Despite the injuries, David Nalbandian’s career had historic peaks worth reviewing. He knew how to be No. 3 in the world, but he also finished in the Top 10 for five seasons. Here is a review of the most relevant milestones:
1 – In Nagoya, Japan, he was U-14 world champion forming a team with Guillermo Coria and Antonio Pastorino in 1996. Already in 1998, he won the US Open Junior, defeating Roger Federer and in 1999 he reached the final of Roland Garros where he lost to Guillermo Coria.
2- On April 14, 2002, his first ATP title came when he beat Finn Jarkko Nieminem 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the Estoril final. In his entire career he raised 11 titles, four of them on brick dust. Already in October of that same season he added his second title by beating the Chilean Fernando González in the Basel final.
3- Of course, between those two conquests, he lived an unforgettable tournament: at Wimbledon from that 2002 he reached the final, falling in the All England against Lleyton Hewitt, number one in the world. It was not until 2013 that another Argentine surpassed the quarters on the pitch: Juan Martín Del Potro.
4- And in September, together with Lucas Arnold, they defeated Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6 and 19-17. They played six hours and 20 minutes in what was, at the time, the longest doubles match in Davis Cup history.
5- Argentine tennis marked another milestone in Hamburg 2003 when a statistic was never repeated: four tennis players from the same country reached the semifinals of a Masters 1000 (at that time Masters Series). David Nalbandian was there. In the 2003 US Open, the Cordovan fell in a dramatic semifinal against the American Andy Roddick 6-7 (4-7), 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-1 and 6-3. The Cordovan reached a match-point third, but could not overcome some controversial failures. In fact, many still swear that with hawk’s eye and the current challenges I would not have lost.
6- Roland Garros 2004 was also historic for Argentine tennis. And David Nalbandian was in another Grand Slam semifinal giving up only with Gastón Gaudio, then champion. That year, he was also a finalist for the Rome Masters 1000 and the Madrid Masters 1000.
7- In 2005, Nalbandian did not plan to travel to the Masters Cup if he had to do it as a substitute: his priority was to fish with friends, rest mentally and prepare for 2006. However, once they confirmed that his entry would be as a starter, crossed the planet to be in Shanghai. His debut against Roger Federer was a good sign. Despite the jet lag, he had good stretches of tennis. And from there he was unbeatable, winning his two group matches and the semifinal without giving up until he was, again, with Federer. And it was 6-7 (4), 6-7 (11), 6-2, 6-1 and 7-6 (3) in four hours and 33 minutes.
8 -In January 2006, he defeated the French Fabrice Santoro to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open, in order to complete his presence in that instance in the four Grand Slam tournaments. And he was very close to more but Marcos Baghdatis beat him 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 and 6-4. Nalbandian continued yielding in the great matches and another sample was Roland Garros of that same year. There he also reached the semifinals but had to give up due to an abdominal injury when he gave up 3-6, 6-4, 5-2 against Roger Federer.
9- The closing of 2007 of David Nalbandian was incredible. He swept the Masters 1000 in Madrid and Paris 2007, keeping both titles and winning against Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Yes, he beat all three in consecutive weeks. Unforgettable.
10- In the last stretch of his career physical problems were a constant but he had his priority: the Davis Cup. An example occurred in Stockholm 2010 when he had been off the court for nine months due to a hip injury and subsequent adductor injury of the right leg at the ATP in Buenos Aires and, despite not being on the original payroll, he ended up reaching Stockholm on Thursday to finish playing (and winning) on Saturday and Sunday. His Davis Cup record was 39-11 with three disputed finals.