2005-2007 Nalbandian was a sight to behold. In 2005, he famously pushed prime Federer to 5 sets, and eventually beat him at the World Tour Finals that were held in Shanghai. In Madrid in 2007, Nalbandian also defeated Nadal, Djokovic and Federer back-to-back-to back, a feat which has never been completed by any player since. Not Wawrinka, next gen, not Dominic Thiem.
Back then, Roger Federer was a chubby-cheeked 24 year old phenom. Fleet footed, laser focused and with unbelievable footwork, this version of Federer would have ankle-broken the Roger Federer of the late 2010s, who so effortlessly dominated in his second coming.
Nalbandian had the skill, the touch and the footwork. He also had that Agassi-like ability to weather any offence and turn it into defence. There is a reason why that Tennis Masters Cup match from 2005 is in the annals of tennis history. That level of tennis has rarely been produced by any of the next gen. However, over the past 12 months we have seen glimpses of it. Alexander Zverev, for instance, was unplayable in that French Open semi. Anyone not named Nadal would have been blown off the court.
Nalbandian had a stellar career, winning the 2005 World Tour Finals, and also making the semi finals or better at all 4 slams. He snatched 2 masters tournaments away from Nadal and Federer in 2007, who won the majority of all Masters 1000 events that year. In 2004, he lost 2 other Masters 1000 finals , as well as single losses in 2003 and 2008.
But the question still remains: if prime Nalbandian was on tour at the moment, would his level be too much for 35 year old Nadal and Djokovic, who have won all the majors this year? Having beaten prime Federer, who was just 25 years old, surely it can be deduced that 35 year old Djokovic, and 36 year old Nadal, would be mercilessly dispatched?