BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC Sport
 You are in: Tennis: Wimbledon  
Sport Front Page
-------------------
Football
Cricket
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Tennis
Statistics
Australian Open
French Open
Wimbledon
US Open
Golf
Motorsport
Boxing
Athletics
Other Sports
-------------------
Special Events
-------------------
Sports Talk
-------------------
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
-------------------
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
-------------------
Around The UK: 
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS

  Saturday, 6 July, 2002, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
Nalbandian makes history
David Nalbandian stretches for a forehand against Xavier Malisse
Nalbandian is the most successful debutant since 1951

Chris Lewis, MaliVai Washington, Cedric Pioline - all players who have forced even seasoned Wimbledon followers to ask 'Who?' on their appearance in the men's singles final.

But none more so perhaps than David Nalbandian, the 20-year-old Argentine who faces world number one Lleyton Hewitt in Sunday's final.

Nalbandian, after all, is competing in his first-ever senior tournament on grass.

And in his three previous Grand Slam events, he has never progressed beyond the third round.

Nalbandian factfile
Born in Cordoba, Argentina, 1 Jan 1962
Two brothers who work as tennis coaches
Won junior Wimbledon doubles title in 1999
Won Estoril Open on clay in April - his first tour title
Seeded 28 at Wimbledon, ranked 32 in the world
First Argentine to reach men's singles final

But suddenly, from nowhere it seems, a player ranked 32nd in the men's game has gatecrashed the biggest event in tennis.

Nalbandian was already the first Argentine to reach the quarter-finals in SW19 since Guillermo Vilas in 1979.

But having surpassed his compatriot at Wimbledon, he now has a chance to match Vilas' Grand Slam achievement of winning the Australian Open in 1979.

Should he do so, Nalbandian would become only the second South American to triumph at Wimbledon.

And the omens are good.

Peru's Alex Olmodo also had to beat an Australian when he overcame the great Rod Laver in the 1959 final.

Nalbandian is already the first man in the Open era to reach the Wimbledon final at the first attempt.

David Nalbandian shakes hands with Xavier Malisse after his semi-final victory
Nalbandian maintained a 100% record in five-set matches against Malisee

Not since a precocious 18-year-old by the name of John McEnroe reached the semi-finals in 1977 has a debutant done so well.

But Nalbandian does have some form on the lawns of south-west London.

He reached the quarter-finals of junior Wimbledon in 1999, and won the junior doubles title the same year with countryman Guillermo Coria.

The 17-year-old might even have gone further in the singles, but was defaulted for turning up late to his semi-final.

But his breakthrough year came last season, when he rose over 200 places to improve his world ranking from 248 to 47.

He followed that up with his first tour title in April, beating former champions Juan Carlos Ferroro and Carlos Moya en route to winning the Estoril Open, the season's first clay-court event.

Greater glory

He may have been seeded 28 for Wimbledon, but his reputation as a baseliner ensured there was no expectation of success on the grass.

Not since Andre Agassi ten years ago has a baseliner won the title.

Should Nalbandian prevail against Hewitt, the 525,000 winners cheque would dwarf his entire career earnings to date of 315,000.

The boost to his bank balance aside though, the greater glory of becoming a Wimbledon champion at the first attempt beckons.

He has already assured the name Nalbandian will be remembered at The Championships for years to come.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
David Nalbandian
"It's a big dream for me"
News, reports and features from our Wimbledon site

Men's singles

Women's singles

Review the action

More coverage

Draws/seeds

Wimbledon fun

Internet link
See also:

14 Apr 02 | Tennis
Links to more Wimbledon stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Wimbledon stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales