Nalbandian Paris Win Reinforces Federer, Nadal Slide

Posted on November 4, 2007

Little has seemingly changed in the overall scheme of tennis as the Masters Cup and the end of 2007 nears. Roger Federer will again finish the year No. 1. Long-suffering Spaniard Rafael Nadal will again finish the year No. 2. But a deeper look shows that Federer and Nadal are far from dominating the competition as they once did.

On Sunday at the Masters Series-Paris, resurgent Argentine David Nalbandian pounded Nadal 6-4, 6-0 in the final, capping a three-week period where Nalbandian has beaten both Federer and Nadal, each twice. Nalbandian came out of nowhere two weeks ago to win the Masters Series-Madrid. The 25-year-old entered Madrid without reaching a semifinal all year, or getting to the quarterfinals at any of the four Slams.

"I never thought that I can win Madrid and Paris like the way I did," Nalbandian said. "But I feel that I play very good from the last Sunday, not just today. All week I was playing great, and I don't know why the result was so easy."

World No. 3 Novak Djokovic is another player to break the Federer-Nadal stranglehold in 2007, posting victories over both.

Nalbandian became the first player to defeat the world No. 1 Federer and the world No. 2 Nadal in the same tournament twice, and the first man to beat them both in a final. He is also the first player since Marat Safin in 2004 to win the Paris and Madrid Masters Series titles back-to-back.

"Rafa started playing better than [he played] in the end," Nalbandian said. "He served very good in the beginning, too. Played more deep and with a lot of intensity, too. So for me it was a little tougher. But after I break him, I feel that I was playing better than him. I played more relaxed, started hitting winners almost from everywhere. That gave me confidence. Then everything was just going until the end."

Nadal said Nalbandian's confidence trumped his when his play plummeted in the second set, getting fed his first bagel set since losing the final set of the Hamburg final 6-0 to Federer.

"It was a very good first set," the Spaniard said. "The second set I played bad, very bad. But he started playing very good. I have my chances a little bit in the first set. Not much, because he's playing with unbelievable confidence...He's one of the best players of the world. You just have to congratulate him...I never saw him play like this."

In the doubles final the No. 1-ranked pair of Bob and Mike Bryan won their 11th title of 2007 with a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over second seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic.

The Bryans have now won 44 titles, tying them for all-time in fourth place with Sergio Casal/Emilio Sanchez on the list of Open Era doubles titles leaders. The only teams to have won more titles are Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde (61), Peter Fleming and John McEnroe (57), and Bob Hewitt and Frew McMillan (57).

"It's been an incredible year," Bob Bryan said. "We would have never dreamed we would have won 11 titles at this point in the season. The crowd was also incredible and made for some great tennis against a tough team, a new team, who have a bright future together. Sometimes the Masters Series can even be harder to win than a Grand Slam. All the best teams are bunched together and you really have to go through a tough field."