Madrid Flashback: Marat Safin beats David Nalbandian to lift trophy

The third edition of the Madrid Masters 1000 event took place in October 2004, gathering a strong field led by Tim Henman, Andre Agassi, David Nalbandian and Marat Safin. The Briton lost before the quarter-final to Ivan Ljubicic, who joined the other favorites in the semis. Nalbandian took down the Croat 6-4, 6-4 with one break in each set to march into the final, facing Marat Safin after the Russian defeated Andre Agassi in a match with a single break. It was the sixth meeting between the Russian and the Argentine, and Marat scored a dominant 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 triumph to beat David for the fifth time and claim the fourth Masters 1000 crown, the third with a roof above his head. Safin sealed the deal in an hour and 52 minutes, blasting 15 aces and controlling the scoreboard after losing serve twice.

The Russian grabbed half of the return points to forge the difference, securing six breaks from 13 opportunities and celebrating the 13th ATP title. Marat had 29 winners and 26 unforced errors, leaving David on almost 40 unforced mistakes and destroying the opponent in the shortest and mid-range exchanges to seal the deal in straight sets. Finding the zone right from the start, Safin forced Nalbandian’s error to secure a break at 15 in game two, only to lose serve in the next one after a wild forehand. Unable to impose his strokes behind the initial shot, David suffered another break in game four to fall behind and allowed Marat to open a 4-1 gap.

Marat Safin defeated David Nalbandian in straight sets in Madrid 2004.

The Russian secured the opening set with a forehand down the line winner in game eight in under half an hour, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter. In the second set’s third game, the Argentine landed a backhand down the line to grab a break and fended off two break chances a few minutes later for a 3-1 advantage. Safin pulled it back in game six and held at love to move in front, gathering momentum and closing the ninth game with a backhand crosscourt winner. Serving to stay in the set, David sprayed a forehand error at 4-5 to suffer a break and hand the set to Safin, who was now miles in front. Marat moved ahead in the third set’s game two following David’s loose forehand and held at love with a backhand crosscourt winner to put one hand on the trophy. Nalbandian saved a match point on serve in game eight to prolong the encounter before Safin held at love with a service winner to seal the deal and lift the trophy. 

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