Nalbandian destroys Nadal's perfect Paris record

By Jerome Pugmire, AP Writer

Rafael Nadal again found no answer to David Nalbandian's big backhand and booming return of serve.

Nalbandian beat Nadal 6-4, 6-0 in the final of the Paris Masters on yesterday — two weeks after ousting the Spaniard in straight sets on his way to winning the Madrid Masters.

The second-ranked Nadal played with both knees taped in his first final since July, but said that was not the reason he lost.

"I had a big problem: Nalbandian," Nadal said. "Today I played against the one who is playing better than me and than the rest of the players, too."

The Argentine player broke Nadal in the ninth game of a tight first set and three times in the second. He clinched the match with a forehand that bounced off the net and landed inside the line.

"All week I was playing great, and I don't know why the result was so easy," Nalbandian said. "After I broke him, I felt that I was playing better than him. I play more relaxed, start hitting winners almost from everywhere. That gave me confidence."

Nadal said his overall performance this week was better in Madrid. Still, being blanked in a set for the first time since May 20 hurt his pride.

"I am happy with my tournament. I am not happy about the loss today," Nadal said. "I'm not happy about my second set because I played very badly."

Nalbandian, who will improve to ninth in the ATP rankings, also eliminated top-seeded Roger Federer in the third round, but said he still has some way to go before he can challenge the Swiss star for the No. 1-spot.

"You have to play like this all season," he said. "It's not easy playing like this in clay, in hard, in grass or indoors. I think the only guy who can do that at the moment is Roger. He's done that for four years."

Nadal lost the second set in 27 minutes as his serve fell apart. The three-time French Open champion won only 17 percent of his second-serve points and had five winners to Nalbandian's 25.

"He's the best returner in the world," Nadal said. "With the second serve, it's very difficult."

It was Nadal's first final since beating Stanislas Wawrinka to win the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany, on July 22.

It was Nadal's first defeat in 26 matches in Paris, as he has never lost at the French Open, where he is 21-0. He had also not lost a set 6-0 since losing the decider to Federer in the Hamburg Masters final on May 20.

Nalbandian is the first player since Marat Safin of Russia in 2004 to win Madrid and Paris back to back.

Before Madrid, Nalbandian had reached only one quarterfinal in 15 tournaments this season and said he was hampered by knee and back injuries for nearly six months.

"I was injured the first part of the year," Nalbandian said. "So it wasn't very easy for me to come back and play good tennis."

The win means Nalbandian is first alternate for the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai, which features the top eight players in the ATP race. Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Roddick, David Ferrer, Fernando Gonzalez and Richard Gasquet will play in the Masters Cup, which starts Nov. 11.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before