Gervasio Esteban David Ezequiel Nalbandian (born January 1, 1982, Unquillo, Córdoba, Argentina) is a professional tennis player from Argentina. As of July 2007 he is the World's No. 24 male tennis player.
Nalbandian is of Armenian descent; his last name means "one who makes horse shoes" (a farrier) in Persian.
Nalbandian began playing tennis at age five. As a junior player, he won the 1998 Junior US Open singles against Roger Federer and the 1999 Junior Wimbledon doubles titles.
He turned professional in 2000. In 2001, he finished in the ATP top 50 for the first time. He finished 2002 as no. 1 Argentine and South American for the first time in his career, winning 2 ATP titles and reaching the Wimbledon final, where he set a record and stunned the tennis world by becoming the first man to reach the final on his senior debut, in 2002. Furthermore, his run to the 2002 Wimbledon final is even more remarkable, considering that it was his first ever pro tournament on grass.
Since then he has continued to climb his way up the ranks of professional tennis, and has finished each of the last two years ranked inside the year end top ten. In 2003 Nalbandian reached the semifinals of the US Open, where he lost to Andy Roddick, after holding a match point in the third set, after a few controversial calls. In 2004, Nalbandian reached the French Open semifinals losing to eventual champion Gastón Gaudio.
In 2005, Nalbandian won the Tennis Masters Cup, becoming only the second Argentine tennis player in history (after Guillermo Vilas in 1974) to win the end of year tournament. Having replaced American Andy Roddick, Nalbandian won two of his three group matches (l. to Roger Federer, d. Ivan Ljubi?i? and Guillermo Coria). In the semi-finals he defeated Russian Nikolay Davydenko and in the final, he beat World No. 1 Roger Federer in the fifth-set tiebreak. David also becomes the first player to win the cup without previously attaining a Grand Slam or Masters Series title.
In January of 2006, Nalbandian defeated Fabrice Santoro of France 7-5 6-0 6-0 in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, becoming only the third active player (along with Andre Agassi and Roger Federer) to have reached the semi-finals of each Grand Slam tournament. He would lose the semifinals to Marcos Baghdatis in a hard fought five set match, despite holding a two-set-to-love advantage and then 4 games to 2 in the final set. In May, Nalbandian won the Estoril Open Tournament in Portugal for the second time, being one of three only men to achieve this accomplishment (Carlos Costa - 1992 and 1994, and Thomas Muster - 1995 and 1996). One month later, Nalbandian reached his second French Open semi-final. It was the first time in his career that he reached two Grand Slam semi-finals in one calendar year. He played Roger Federer and started very well, taking the first set 6-3 and going 3-0 up in the second set. At 5-2 down in the third set, Nalbandian decided to retire from the match, since he was suffering from abdominal injuries. At Wimbledon, Nalbandian was beaten in the third round - it was the first time he didn't reach the last 16. At the US Open, Nalbandian was beaten in the second round against former Grand Slam champion Marat Safin.
Nalbandian then competed in the Davis Cup Semi Final against Australia. David easily defeated Mark Philippoussis 6-4 6-3 6-3 to give Argentina a 1-0 lead. Nalbandian felt as if the crowd didn't get totally fired up because he was cruising through the match. When the draw for the Davis Cup semifinal was being made with Argentina vs. Australia, Nalbandian shook hands with Australian Mark Philippoussis and asked him to join the party on Saturday night, implying that Argentina would beat Australia 3-0 on Saturday. Nalbandian was indeed correct, and Argentina went on to thrash Australia 5-0. Nalbandian said the only thing he was disappointed that he didn't have the opportunity to beat Lleyton Hewitt, whom he thrashed in the Davis Cup quarterfinal in 2005 6-2 6-4 6-4 in Australia (Nalbandian's record against Hewitt is 1-3). Prior to the Davis Cup semifinal, Nalbandian said, "We beat them in Australia, and we're going to beat them again." Argentina went on to humiliate Australia, thrashing them 5-0. Nalbandian also fired up the clash with Australia by saying that Hewitt has no friends on the ATP Tour.
2007 saw Nalbandian drop out of the world's top twenty for the first time since 2003 after losing in the fourth round of the 2007 French Open to Nikolay Davydenko. Nalbandian suffered various abdominal injuries, a back injury and a leg injury during the year which is the reason for his form lapse.
He fell to No. 26 in the world until his season changed when after winning the 2007 Madrid Masters. He won the tournament by defeating Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer in consecutive rounds, becoming the third player after Boris Becker and Djokovic to defeat the world's top three players in a single tournament. He defeated Nadal, 6–1, 6–2, in the quarterfinals. His good form carried him to his second top three win of the tournament, defeating Djokovic in the semifinals. He then stunned Federer in the final, winning 1–6, 6–3, 6–3.
He also reached the doubles semifinals with Guillermo Canas in the tournament before losing to top-seeded Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in the semifinals. After the tournament, his singles ranking moved up from No. 25 on the tour to No. 18, losing in the first round of his next tournament.
Nalbandian played at the 2007 Paris Masters and again defeated Federer in the third round 6–4, 7–6 (7–3). He then beat David Ferrer in the quarterfinals in a closely fought match, winning 7–6 (7–3), 6–7 (3–7), 6–2. After beating Richard Gasquet 6–2, 6–4 in the semifinals, Nalbandian won his second straight ATP Masters Series title over Nadal, 6–4 6–0, thus, becoming the first player to win Madrid and Paris Masters back-to-back since former World No. 1 Safin in 2004. This win allowed Nalbandian to move back into the top ten at No. 9.
Nalbandian began 2008 back in the top ten, however for the seventh straight time he failed to make the Quarterfinals of a slam, suffering a 6–1, 6–2, 6–3, 3rd round loss to the No. 22 seed Juan Carlos Ferrero. On February 24, 2008 Nalbandian was able to win the Copa Telmex on his own home soil in Buenos Aires. He beat fellow compatriot Jose Acasuso 3–6 7–6(7–5) 6–4. With that win he was able to move to the number 8 ATP rank.
The following week, Nalbandian arrived at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco, Mexico. Nalbandian defeated Boris Pasanski, Santiago Ventura, Potito Starace, and Luis Horna all in straight sets, but then lost in the final to Nicolás Almagro, 6–1, 7–6 (1).
Nalbandian entered the 2008 Pacific Life Open, and received a "bye" in the first round because of his seventh seeding. In the second round, he defeated Ernests Gulbis 6–4, 4–6, 7–6 (4), and then came back to beat Radek Stepanek, 7–6 (1), 0–6, 7–6 (6). In the fourth round, he avenged Juan Carlos Ferrero for his Australian Open loss 6–2 6–2. He lost in the quarterfinals against Mardy Fish, 3–6, 7–6 (5), 6–7 (4), in a very tough match. He teamed up with Guillermo Cañas in doubles, but lost a close match in the second round. He then lost at the 2008 Monte Carlo Masters to eventual finalist Roger Federer 5-7, 6-2, 6-2. In Barcelona, he was the third seed, but was eliminated by Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round. At the 2008 Rome Masters, he fell in his debut to Nicolás Almagro 6-4, 7-5.
At the French Open, Nalbandian suffered a shock loss in the second round to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy. After being two sets up and seemingly in control, he lost the next three to hand Chardy the win; 3-6 4-6 6-2 6-1 6-2. After the French Open Nalbandian made his debut at the grass courts of Queen's Club Championships in order to prepare for Wimbledon. He reached the Semi Finals where he lost heavily to world number three Novak Djokovic 6-1 6-0.
At Wimbledon, Nalbandian suffered an early exit for the second straight Grand Slam tournament, going down to wild card Frank Dancevic in straight sets.
In the US Open, Nalbandian lost in the third round in straight sets against Frenchman Gaël Monfils.
Defending his title at Madrid Masters, he was defeated by compatriot Juan Martín del Potro in the second round. David Nalbandian defeated Robin Söderling 6-2,5-7,6-3 in Stockholm Open 2008 final.
In the Paris Masters, he defeated Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 6-1 5-7 6-4 to reach his second straight final where he lost against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 3 tight sets; 3-6, 6-4, 4-6.
Nalbandian employs a very aggressive baseline game, although he is capable of playing an all-court style. His main strengths lie in his groundstrokes and return game, and are complemented by his deft accuracy and incredible foot speed. His groundstrokes are technically sound and solid from both wings, and because of their depth, pace, and consistency, opponents often have difficulty breaking down one particular side. Nalbandian's trademark shot is his two-handed backhand down the line, which he often uses to set up point, by either hitting a clean winner, or forcing a weak return from the opponent. Nalbandian is also a sound volleyer, and if a situation calls for more aggressive play, he is often willing to finish points at the net.
Nalbandian's largest weakness is his serve, which is among the weakest of the top 50 players on the tour. Accordingly, he is broken often for a player of his ranking. Yet another weakness is the inconsistency in his mental game. While Nalbandian has proven his mental fortitude in countless matches (most recently during the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup final, when he beat Roger Federer in five tough sets, despite the latter leading two sets to love), he continues to have a tendency to relax at times when he is leading in a match, sometimes even to the point of losing. During the 2006 Australian Open semi-finals, Nalbandian suffered such a fate against Marcos Baghdatis; Nalbandian dropped the final three sets of the match, after holding a two sets-to-none lead against the young Cypriot.