MADRID: Former No 3 David Nalbandian turned the tables on Roger Federer to stun the Swiss 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 and win his first title in nearly 18 months with victory on Sunday at the Madrid Masters.
The Argentine who stands 25th after going it alone a year before taking on Hernan Gumy as his coach over the summer, becomes only the third man in 14 years to beat the Nos 1, 2 and 3 at the same event.
Boris Becker was the first in Stockholm, 1994, while Serb Novak Djokivic, Nalbandian's Madrid semi-final victim, did it on the way to the title last August in Madrid.
Nalbandian achieved his piece of history with Madrid wins over Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.
"I'm extremely contented to beat the world No 1," said an overjoyed Nalbandian, who climbed into the stands to greet his box in victory and later sprayed champagne during the trophy ceremony.
"Roger and I have a long history and I think that influenced the match."
After dominating in their early days Nalbandian rose up again in 1hr 48mins to prove that he can be the the Swiss player's worst nightmare.
The South American, who will improve from his current 25th ranking, won their first five ATP encounters before Federer swept eight of their most recent nine. The one the Swiss lost: the 2005 Masters Cup final in Shanghai.
"He served well, I was quite surprised with how well he served," said Federer, whose last loss indoors came against the Argentine in Shanghai. "He came back strong and played well in the end.
"He was a better player all in all. I was struggling after the first set to play aggressive for some reason. He played tough and didn't miss any more.
"I couldn't play the way I wanted to. It was a pity, he played a great tournament."
Federer remains in slim 8-6 command of the series, beating Nalbandian in the Madrid semis a year ago.
Nalbandian last won a title in May, 2006, on clay in Estoril. He lost the Madrid final in 2004 to Marat Safin.
Federer had been bidding for his 15th career Masters Cup shield.
Even an unusual second-set interruption caused by the rogue leak of a watering system hose used for courtside flowers couldn't derail the Nalbandian concentration on court.
Federer and his opponent had to stop in the fourth game with the Swiss leading 30-0 while the problem was fixed for five minutes.
Federer will play next week at home in Basel as he defends that title.
Federer swept up the first set in 29 minutes but then began to fade in the face of the Nalbandian attack.
"It was an extremely hard set," said Nalbandian of the opener. "But I tightened the teeth and I began to play more strongly."
Source: China Daily/Agencies