Federer Dismantles Nalbandian
They refer to him as The Maestro for a reason. Thursday night, world number one Roger Federer showed why making 11th seeded Argentine David Nalbandian look very pedestrian in an easy straight sets win 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 to advance to a semifinal showdown with Lleyton Hewitt.
In front of a disappointed Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd, Federer made short work of a very good opponent who just two years earlier knocked him out of Flushing Meadows in the Round of 16.
Though he got an early wakeup call when Nalbandian broke to start the match, Federer quickly responded by breaking back. It didn't take long for Federer to put some distance between Nalbandian, dropping just one other game in a 27-minute uncompetitive first set.
When Nalbandian beat Federer two years ago, he also dropped the first set. Stepping up his game early in the second, after fighting off break points in the fourth game, Nalbandian stuck a forehand volley to break Federer for a 3-2 lead. But a determined Federer imposed his will, moving Nalbandian all over the court, producing some of his 31 winners from every conceivable angle. Breaking back right away, he killed any momentum Nalbandian had enroute to four straight games claiming the set when Nalbandian netted a volley. A frustrated Nalbandian slammed his racket.
It only got worse. On a remarkable run where he couldn't miss, Federer won the first five games of the third set (nine straight dating back to second set) to erase any hopes of a comeback. So tough was it for Nalbandian that he struggled to avoid a bagel, even hearing some boos when Federer reached match point. But Nalbandian fought it off and eventually got some solace. At least he wasn't bageled like Hewitt twice in last year's Open final.
With the match all but over, USA Network tennis analyst John McEnroe muttered, "This is painful."
To his credit, Nalbandian fought off two more match points but Federer finally cashed in on the fourth when Nalbandian netted a backhand volley to end the misery.
"When he plays like this, it's really tough to beat him,'' Nalbandian said afterwards.
After the hour 40-minute match ended, Federer entertained the crowd with some candid remarks about the All-American semifinal between Andre Agassi and Robby Ginepri. "It will be a very interesting [match] because they play similar games," said Federer.
The witty Swiss number one also made fans gasp with his next remark. "This doesn't happen every day so you better enjoy this moment."
Even when he dominates, Federer gives people something to talk about.
He's trying to become the first Open champ to repeat since Patrick Rafter ('97-98). Federer has made at least the semis in all four majors this year. He lost to eventual champ Marat Safin at the Australian Open and lost to French Open champ Rafael Nadal, both in semis on their birthdays. Federer defeated Andy Roddick to win his third straight Wimbledon in July. Now, he'll try to beat Hewitt for the ninth straight time on Super Saturday in an attempt to play in Sunday's final and win his sixth slam title.
Can anyone stop him?