Paris:David Nalbandian beat Roger Federer on Thursday for the second time in less than two weeks, earning a 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory in the third round of the Paris Masters.
The result evened the all-time series between the two 8-8 and ended Federer's streak of reaching the final in eight straight tournaments dating back to May.
"It's not easy being aggressive against him when you're three meters (10 feet) behind the baseline," said Federer, who lost to the Argentine in the final of the Madrid Masters on October 21.
"He's got a phenomenal backhand and can dictate play from both sides," said Federer, who lost for the eighth time this season.
Guillermo Canas and Rafael Nadal also have beaten Federer twice each while Novak Djokovic and Filippo Volandri also have beaten the Swiss.
"I wish conditions were a bit faster because indoors is supposed to be fast," Federer said. "Not here, I guess."
Nalbandian didn't complain.
"Well, it's different," Nalbandian said. "Over there (in Madrid) it's a little faster."
He next plays fifth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain, who advanced after beating 12th-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2.
After beating Federer in Madrid, Nalbandian was eliminated in the first round of last week's event in Basel, Switzerland. The week before Madrid, he was eliminated in the second round in Vienna.
"Federer's the No 1 in the world," Nalbandian said. "You always have to be at 100 per cent. I was, just like in Madrid."
Nalbandian wasted five set points by shanking balls long or into the net.
"I absolutely thought he was getting nervous," Federer said. "He has a tendency to, you know, sometimes give a second chance when you think you're down and out."
Meanwhile, Nikolay Davydenko again was accused of not putting forth his best effort, with the chair umpire criticizing the Russian's serving during a 6-2, 6-2 third-round loss to Marcos Baghdatis.
The defending champion, who was jeered during the match, finished with 10 double-faults, 36 unforced errors and had his serve broken five times.
Chair umpire Cedric Mourier spoke to Davydenko during a changeover, asking him what was wrong with his serve. Davydenko responded by asking what else he could do.
"Serve like me," Mourier was heard telling Davydenko on the television broadcast. "If you serve like me, you put it in the box. That's it."
Davydenko had said Wednesday he was hampered by a sore elbow, but he didn't give a direct answer when Baghdatis asked him what was wrong as they shook hands at the end of the match.
Last week at the St. Petersburg Open, Davydenko was fined US$2,000 (euro1,400) by the ATP for "lack of best effort" during a 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 loss to Marin Cilic.
"I cannot serve," Davydenko said of Thursday's match. "That was happening in St. Petersburg. I don't have pain really. I have no pain in my elbow. I need to find what's the reason I cannot really serve."
ATP spokesperson Nicola Arzani said no action will be taken against the fourth-seeded Davydenko.
Meanwhile, second-seeded Rafael Nadal, eighth-seeded Tommy Robredo, Ferrer and 10th-seeded Richard Gasquet of France all advanced in straight sets.
Scheduled to play
Nadal beat Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-4, 6-3, and next meets either ninth-seeded Tommy Haas or Mikhail Youzhny, who were scheduled to play later.
"I played a very good match today," Nadal said. "Stan was playing very aggressive, (some) unbelievable tennis, but I feel very comfortable. I'm very happy with my level today."
Robredo topped 11th-seeded Guillermo Canas of Argentina 7-5, 7-5 to set up a match against Baghdatis. Both stayed in contention for the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai, featuring the top eight players in the ATP Race.
Gasquet remained in contention by beating sixth-seeded James Blake of the United States 6-4, 6-4, but Ferrer ended Berdych's hopes.
Nalbandian already has been eliminated from reaching Shanghai, along with Blake and Canas.
Federer, Nadal, Davydenko, Ferrer, Djokovic and Andy Roddick are qualified. The last two spots will be decided in Paris.
Gasquet next meets 15th-seeded Andy Murray, who beat Fabrice Santoro 6-4, 6-2 to retain his chances for Shanghai.
Davydenko's warning is the latest in a series of incidents that have drawn attention to the fourth-ranked Russian.
After a match in Poland in August, online betting exchange Betfair voided bets after Davydenko withdrew against 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello in the third set because of a foot injury. The ATP is investigating the match.