Defending champion Rafael Nadal of Spain had a smooth sailing in the first two rounds of the 2011 US Open, but his first big challenge comes in the third-round in the form of veteran contender of Argentina David Nalbandian, who has troubled the Spaniard in their past encounters. Nadal will have to produce fine tennis to get past the Argentine, who is one of the dark horses of the tournament.
Second-seed Rafael Nadal will be facing World No. 76 David Nalbandian of Argentina is a third-round encounter of the 2011 US Open. Nadal won his first two matches convincingly in straight sets here at Flushing Meadows, but now he faces Nalbandian, who has all the experience and shots in his artillery to test the defending champion.
Though, Nadal has a stellar 55-10 win-loss record this year, the Spaniard has only 3 titles to his name with Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and French Open – all these came on his favourite hunting surface ‘Clay.’ Undoubtedly, Nadal has proved his prominence on hard-court as well over the years, but this year he has been badly tormented by cruising Serbian Novak Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in the final of the US Open last year. Interestingly, Djokovic has beaten Nadal in five finals this year comprising of four ATP Masters event and Wimbledon title match. Nadal has already lost his No. 1 Ranking to Djokovic and amidst present state-of-affairs it becomes more important for the Spaniard to defend his title at Flushing Meadows or it would further become difficult for him to catch up the No. 1 Serbian, who has been enjoying a form of his life.
Nadal’s opponent David Nalbandian is gifted with a devastating backhand, which has been remained a sort of mystery for many tennis giants over the years. Though Nalbandian is currently ranked as No. 76 in the world, he is always a force to be reckoned with. The Argentine has gone through a few ups and down in the last couple of years due to recurring injuries and surgeries. Nalbandian has to miss-out in a few key tournaments this year too, due to injuries. The Argentine has a good 16-9 win-loss record this year, but he is certainly short in match practise. The former World No. 3 David Nalbandian missed almost the entire clay-court season this year and then lost in a third-round of the Wimbledon to Roger Federer. He did not look good in the US Open Series also.
In head-to-head, both contenders are even at 2-2 against each other. Back in 2007, when David Nalbandian was enjoying a tremendous form, he outplayed Rafael Nadal in their first two matches on the speedy indoor hard-courts of Madrid and Paris. The Spaniard earned his maiden victory against Nalbandian in 2009 in Barcelona, followed up by another victory in 2010 in Miami Masters, where the Argentine was making a comeback after another injury hiatus.
Nadal is well aware about Nalbandian’s prominence, as the Spaniard quoted, "For me, he's a very dangerous opponent. I have had very tough matches against him. He's a very good player. We know each other really good. We practice a lot together. He's a good friend. This will be a very good test for me."