Murray to face fighter Nalbandian

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The Independent Online

It took Andy Murray five years to get the better of David Nalbandian but today the Scot has the chance to beat the Argentine for the second time in three months. Murray, who had a first-round bye, meets Nalbandian here in the second round of the Paris Masters.

Nalbandian was Murray's opponent in his first match on Centre Court at the All England Club in 2005. The 2002 Wimbledon runner-up came back from two sets down to win and beat Murray again when they met here two years ago. The current world No 4 finally got his man at this summer's Toronto Masters.

The two men would be regarded by many as the best two current players not to have won a Grand Slam title, although the 28-year-old Argentine is not the force he was after missing nine months following a hip operation. "After surgery you can never be 100 per cent like you were before," he said after beating Spain's Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-1 yesterday.

Murray has always had the highest respect for Nalbandian's game, while the former world No 3 described the Scot as "a very complete player". He recalled what an impression the Scot had made in their first meeting. "He was beating me two sets to love," he said. "I turned it around, but it was the kind of match that you can easily lose. He was very young, but he showed to everybody that he could be a very good player."

Nalbandian had dropped to No 161 in the world rankings earlier this year. He missed six Grand Slam tournaments in succession through injury before playing at this year's US Open, where he reached the third round, though he has climbed back to No 25 in the rankings. While he never looks the fittest of players, he has a reputation as a fighter who never knows when he is beaten.

Mikhail Youzhny's retirement against Ernests Gulbis left five players in the running to fill the remaining three places in the elite eight-man field for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London starting in 11 days' time. Murray, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling have already qualified. David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Andy Roddick currently occupy the last three places.