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Nalbandian tames Nadal again in Paris Masters final
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10:38, November 06, 2007

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PARIS: Argentine David Nalbandian extended his perfect record against Rafael Nadal by crushing the world No 2 6-4, 6-0 in the final of the Paris Masters Series tournament on Sunday.

The unseeded Nalbandian, who had destroyed the Spaniard 6-1, 6-2 in their first meeting in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Masters two weeks ago, highlighted his brilliant form with a spectacular display.

Nalbandian, who beat Roger Federer for the Madrid crown before knocking out the world No 1 en route to the final here, claimed his second title in the showcase series and will be rewarded with a return to the top 10 at No 9.

Nadal, who had never lost a match in the French capital and was appearing at the $2.45 million indoor event for the first time, failed to emulate American Andre Agassi, the only player to have won both the French Open and the Paris Masters.

The first set was extremely tight with no break opportunity for either player until Nalbandian got two in the ninth game and converted the first with a return winner.

The Argentine then won his service game to love to take the set in 41 minutes.

"After I broke him, I felt I was playing better than him and started hitting winners almost from everywhere, which gave me confidence," Nalbandian said.

The 21-year-old Mallorcan looked helpless at times and showed signs of nerves, notably when he dropped serve with a double fault in the third game of the last set.

One-sided contest

Asked if he had experienced a problem, Nadal said: "Yes, Nalbandian. He was just playing with unbelievable confidence."

Nalbandian served for the match and swiftly earned three match points. He needed only one, a forehand winner which bounced on the net cord ending the three-time French Open champion's suffering.

A former top three player, Nalbandian served efficiently, returned superbly and dictated play with aggressive groundstrokes and occasional sharp volleys in a one-sided contest that lasted 68 minutes.

The 2002 Wimbledon runner-up narrowly missed out on a spot at the season-ending Masters Cup featuring the world's top eight in Shanghai, where Federer, Nadal and company will battle it out from November 11, but might still go to China as an alternate.

Nalbandian, one the world's most formidable players when on song, famously defeated Federer in the 2005 Masters Cup final.

Asked if the awe-inspiring tennis he has played over the past few weeks could take him all the way to No 1, he remained cautious.

"To be the No 1 I would have to play like this the whole season," he said. "It's not easy to play that well on clay, hardcourts, grass and indoors. I think the only player who can do that at the moment is Roger (Federer)."

Nadal, who has been dreaming of that top spot for years, agreed with Nalbandian that the Argentine still has some way to go.

"He's one of the best players in the world but not the best," the Spaniard said.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

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