Evergreen Nalbandian turns back the clock on grass


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The Independent Online

Ten years after he was runner-up at Wimbledon, David Nalbandian will appear in the second grass-court final of his career when he meets Marin Cilic in the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club in west London this afternoon.

Nalbandian, who lost to Lleyton Hewitt in his only Grand Slam final, has won 11 titles in his career, but that is a meagre return for a player of his talent. The former world No 3 is arguably the best current player other than Andy Murray never to have won a Grand Slam title and he showed his talent with a masterful display in difficult conditions in yesterday's semi-finals, beating the talented Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-4. While Nalbandian played conservatively, his young opponent was often too ambitious.

Weather delays had forced the 30-year-old Nalbandian to play his third-round match and quarter-final – which both went to three sets – the previous day. The world No 39 might have been expected to tire but he won in impressive fashion. The finish was typical. After Dimitrov had retrieved an early break, Nalbandian broke at 4-4 thanks to a beautifully judged drop shot and then surprised the world No 72 by twice playing serve-and-volley in the final game.

"Today was very tough," Nalbandian said. "It was so windy there were a lot of mistakes. It's been a tough week – a lot of rain, late matches, a lot of waiting."

Cilic reached his first grass-court final by beating the American Sam Querrey, the 2010 champion, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Nalbandian has beaten Cilic four times out of five, but the Croatian won their most recent meeting, over five sets on clay in Buenos Aires in the Davis Cup.

Roger Federer will attempt to win the Halle Open in Germany for the sixth time when he faces Tommy Haas in this afternoon's final. Federer, 30, beat Mikhail Youzhny 6-1, 6-4 in yesterday's semi-finals while Haas, 34, beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6, 7-5. It will be the first final on the main men's tour between two players over the age of 30 since Carlos Moya beat Andrei Pavel at Umag in Croatia five years ago.