Rafael Nadal and David Nalbandian treated tennis fans to a fantastic third round match at the Sony Ericsson Open on Sunday. David, who’s been out for months recovering from hip surgery and a host of other injuries, played close to his best tennis for about a set and a half. Rafa, who won the match 6-7(8) 6-2 6-2, got just the kind of confidence building battle that he relishes against an opponent who has bageled him in the past. We fans enjoyed every minute of it. Win-win-win! If we were all bowling, a turkey would be flashing on the electronic scoreboard.
Sometimes I like to fantasize about an alternate tennis universe, one where players like David Nalbandian and Carla Suarez Navarro reign supreme (yeah, I know it’s weird.) Watching Nadal and Nalbandian brawl in the first set, I envisioned a tennis world where these two could face each other on any given Sunday. It wouldn’t have the artistic contrasts of Federer vs. Nadal or the respectful affection that makes that rivalry so sweet. But it would be a hell of a lot of fun. If Fedal is heavyweight boxing, Nadalbandian is UFC.
Hey, it’s not just me, Rafa fantasizes about David, too:
“He is talent, no? He can play very easy. He can make very difficult things very easy. So, you know, when he’s playing at his best level he makes you feel like you are nothing in the middle of the court, no? So I think it’s strange that one player like David don’t have a Grand Slam victory, because he has everything to win.”
Nalbandian apparently has a fan club in the ATP locker room. Here’s Andy Roddick talking about the Argentine after beating Stakhovsky on Sunday:
Q. Rafa almost went down today. That would really open up that side, I guess.
ANDY RODDICK: Yeah, I don’t know if I could have told you who was in the semis or wherever it was. You know, but Nalbandian is tough. That was never gonna be an easy match. That seems to be a good matchup for David or I guess all the top 10 players are a good matchup for David it seems like.
Nadal plays David Ferrer (d. Karlovic) and Roddick plays Bejamin Becker (d. Robredo) in the Round of 16. Ferrero (d. Isner), Tsonga (d. Kohlschreiber), Bellucci (d. Rochus) and Almagro (d. Chardy) are also through.
Kim Clijsters lost only one game against Shahar Peer on Sunday and only three games total on her way to the fourth round. She’s been so stingy that some people think she’s being rude:
Q. Your first two matches, you’re treating your opponents rather rudely. I don’t think you’ve lost serve or even come close to it. You must be feeling in a nice groove as you move along here?
KIM CLIJSTERS: Yeah. . .I have a feeling out there where you feel like you can – where your brain and your arm is kind of connecting, you know. . .It’s a nice feeling to have. But, you know, I know from the past and I’ve learned from the past that it can change very quickly, as well.
Clijsters plays defending champ, Victoria Azarenka, next. Vika beat Lucie Safarova in straight sets.
Caroline Wozniacki proved once again to be a fighter on the court, beating Maria Kirilenko 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday, despite suffering from dizziness and having her blood pressure taken on court. She said afterwards that she is suffering from a “viral illness” but is preparing to fight another day: “No dancing tonight for sure.” Wozniacki assured the press. “Room service, a lot of fluids, and just relaxing on my program. Maybe a good movie.”
Caroline plays Pavlyuchenkova next. In other women’s results, Justine Henin beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-4. Next up for JuJu is Vera Zvonareva. Jelena Jankovic is also through to the round of 16, where she’ll play Stosur.
Click here for all of Sunday’s results from the Sony Ericsson Open.
Player comments via SonyEricssonOpen.com