MADRID, Oct 20 (Reuters) Unseeded Argentine David Nalbandian outclassed world number three Novak Djokovic with a 6-4 7-6 victory at the Madrid Masters today to claim his place in his first final of the year.
The 25-year-old, who has dropped out of the top 10 to 25th in the world rankings this season, will meet either defending champion and world number one Roger Federer or unseeded German Nicolas Kiefer in tomorrow's final.
''This is a very important win for me as I haven't had a good year,'' Nalbandian told reporters. ''I had some physical problems this year but I've been working hard, regained confidence and today I got the reward on the court.'' Nalbaldian crushed home favourite Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals yesterday and he picked up where he had finished off against a jaded-looking Djokovic.
The Argentine put the 20-year-old Serb under heavy pressure from the off as he returned deep and hit the lines with his groundstrokes.
He failed to convert two break point opportunities in the opening game, but cracked the Djokovic serve in the third on his way to a 3-1 lead and retained his advantage to take the set 6-4.
ON THE RACK Nalbandian kept Djokovic on the rack in the second, working his opponent across the court with his heavy whipped forehands.
He pounced again in the tie-break, gaining the crucial mini-break with a great forehand pass before taking the decider 7-4.
It is the first time Nalbandian has made a final since winning in Estoril in April 2006, his previous best performance this season coming when he got to the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open in April.
Nalbandian has reached the final of three previous Masters Series events, including Madrid in 2004 when he lost to Marat Safin.
''He deserves to be in the final that's for sure,'' said Djokovic, who admitted he was exhausted after winning his fifth tournament of the year in Vienna last weekend.
''Sometimes you play bad and he was on a roll. He won against Rafa (Nadal) and a lot of good players this week so obviously he had a lot of confidence on the court and you could see that.'' Reuters BJR RN2015