Nalbandian Defeats Baghdatis to Win Legg Mason Tennis Classic

by John on August 9, 2010

It was 19 months since he last tasted victory. With shouts of “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole!” raining down from the upper grandstands at the Fitzgerald Tennis Center in Washington, D.C., yesterday afternoon, a jubilant David Nalbandian raised his arms skyward in triumph. The former world No. 3 Argentine defeated No. 8 seed Marcos Baghdatis 6-2, 7-6 (4) in the final of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic to capture his first championship since Sydney in January of 2009. It was the No. 117-ranked Nalbandian’s first ATP tournament since April and just his fifth of an injury-plagued season since returning to the tour in February following hip surgery a year ago May. The title was the 11th of Nalbandian’s career and his first ever in the U.S. With the 500 ATP ranking points he earned for the win, Nalbandian jumped 72 positions to No. 45 in today’s new rankings. The 28-year-old Argentine, displaying his usual punishing and precise ground game and service return brilliance, dropped just one set in six matches during the week. “I didn’t expect to win my first tournament,” Nalbandian said. “In the beginning, if I had to bet, I (wouldn’t have) bet on myself, of course.” Nalbandian broke at love in the first game of the match and again in the seventh game to take the first set easily in just 32 minutes. The second set was a different matter. Nalbandian double faulted twice in the second game to drop serve and go down 2-0. The Argentine broke back and then survived nine deuces, three double faults and six break points to hold for 2-2. After squandering so many chances, Baghdatis immediately lost his serve, but broke back to even things at 3-3. From there, service prevailed to the tiebreaker. Nalbandian raced to a 5-0 lead, and despite double faulting at 6-3, won it with a booming serve that forced a Baghdatis error. The match was in the books in just under two hours. “I think I played very good throughout the week here,” Nalbandian said. “I had a few moments in some matches where I did not play too good, In the rest, I had great moments, great matches. And then the win and I’m so happy for it.” Baghdatis was impressed. “If he plays like that, he can beat a lot of guys in the top 10,” the Cypriot said. Nalbandian is scheduled for Masters Series events in Toronto and Cincinnati the next two weeks leading up to the U.S. Open.

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