STOCKHOLM: David Nalbandian will carry the winning habit to this week's Madrid Masters title defense after claiming the Stockholm Open trophy 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 over Robin Soderling on Sunday.
The Argentine No 7, playing for the first time at the event, held off a fightback from Robin Soderling, who had been seeking to give home fans their first local champion since Thomas Johansson in 2004.
Nalbandian has started his autumn indoor season on the best possible note, which he believes bodes well for Madrid after the confidence-boosting victory.
A year ago, Nalbandian dominated the autumn European campaign, winning Madrid and Paris Bercy back-to-back with two victories each over Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
"I'm going with confidence, I've won my first indoor event of the season, so it's a great start for me," said the Argentine whose only other trophy in 2008 came on clay in Buenos Aires in February.
"I hope to defend my trophy. Madrid has some altitude, maybe 5-600 meters.
"But I'll have a few days to get used to it. There is no extra pressure on me, I'll just try and play my game 100 percent when I'm on the court."
Nalbandian fired 13 aces and broke five times in the Swedish final while Soderling put in 18 untouchable serves.
Nalbandian is thick in the race for the season-ending, eight-man Masters Cup in Shanghai in less than a month. But the 26-year-old is unlikely to make the trip to China, with his focus on the key Davis Cup final against Spain at Mar del Plata in his homeland.
Source: China Daily/Agencies