Monday, May 26, 2008

The ESPN Interview

So here's the 7-minute preview of what's apparently a 50-minute interview that will be shown on Argentine ESPN+. Perhaps there'll be more clips and I assume there will be more quotes. But there's a part of this video here that's already being quoted everywhere - the one about the Davis Cup, of course.

He'll play the 2013 season and he'll see how it goes. If he feels that he no longer enjoys it, that he has nothing more to give then he'll stop. But there's no day, no fixed date until which he'll play. Right now he enjoys it, he likes what he does and as long as that's the case he'll go on.

Tennis is very cruel that way, he's not the only one who's having these physical problems, it happens to everyone at this level. Tennis a sport that leads to much wear and tear, with all the tournaments and travelling it involves, the kind of wear and tear that doesn't happen in other sports. Some get those problems sooner, some get them later, only very few don't get them at all. But all former players and players end up worn out before they're 30, when they're actually still young.
When the problems with his hip began and then came this whole series of different injuries, one after another, his hip wasn't the reason for that. He thinks it was years and years of training, of wear and tear adding up. In this sport, they all end up physically destroyed.
Today, hip injuries are much more of an issue than they used to be because nowadays you play both forehand and backhand with your legs apart, open stance, and that causes more strain on the hip. But it's also the speed you play at today, the courts getting a bit slower and the rallies growing longer. All of that leads to more wear and tear. And this makes him think that things have changed compared to when he was young. There were times when it was the elbow or the shoulder, nowadays it's the hip. It changes because tennis evolves. Tomorrow it could be having ankle or back problems.
What's also changing is the training methods. It used to be very basic, you ran 8 kilometres and that was your training. This has completely changed, it's strength training now and then lots of tests and technology, with more people involved in the preparations, kinesiology helping with recovery after matches. The developments get tested on the each generation of players, like guinea pigs, and some things are expensive but some things are also helpful for some players.

Davis Cup
Argentina could've won it many times, they always had the teams for it, like Vilas and Clerc in their day. There are different reasons why it didn't happen, differences that might've happened in the different eras. At the end of the day, it should be about trying to achieve the goal of winning the Davis Cup.
(Here at this point, we get to see some footage of Delpo, training ahead of Mar del Plata 2008.)
"It's 4 weeks a year. That's nothing. 4 weeks if you make it to the final. And even that isn't much..."
Unfortunately, there's always some reason you end up not making it, because this or that is missing. It simply happens. The real shame about it is not being able to achieve that goal. How to do it better, that's something the captains have to work on, it's their job, though "in the end, it's all about the commitment of the players to the competition." For Argentine tennis, for the team that's going to play Davis Cup this year it's going to be a very difficult title to win, and what has happened doesn't help them. But it was always going to be difficult. And the Davis Cup is the only trophy that's still missing in Argentina's collection.

Becoming a father
He's very happy, he has been together with Vicky for many, many years. He likes to joke that she's just a friend and then she gets angry (laughs). But all is very well, he was very happy when he got the news, which came as a surprise for them. Right now, he doesn't yet get to feel the impact of it and he's still very relaxed. But that's going to change when the moment of the birth draws near, when all of that happens. Then as a man he'll become more aware of it. For now, it's not completely the same but practically, it's all still the same for him at this point. He'll have to wait and see how it's going to affect him but it's obviously going to be something very positive, something that will make him grow as a person.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Davis Cup 2013 - Another Interview

(Daniel Caceres/Clarin)

Another season for David and that means of course another year of trying to win the Davis Cup - at last. In this second of the two interviews by Hernan Sartori for Clarin (the original also contains an audio clip), David talks about his role on the team, Jaite's way of dealing with the players and his take on the lost semifinal. It starts with the one question that's really no question, at all...
Q: Are you going to play the first tie in 2013 against Germany?

David: I'm at the captain's disposal. I've always been. It's going to be a very tough and difficult tie, also because the team still has to form. I want to be in a good physical state when I return because the Davis Cup is one of my priorities.
About the very tough and difficult first-round tie I'd like to say that Argentina (without Delpo) beat Germany 3-0 after the doubles this year. That was an away tie and it was also before the German team and federation entered a state of turmoil, Patrick Kühnen resigned as captain (after a decade), and Germany's two best players, Kohlschreiber and Haas, established a feud that makes David's and Delpo's differences seem rather harmless in comparison.
Q: Despite your experience in Davis Cup, the presence of Juan Martin Del Potro, if he's going to play, and of Juan Monaco could mean a different role for you on the team. What would your reaction be to that?

David: To sum it up, I play for the country because I want to help Argentina achieve its goal, in whatever way I can and and the captain chooses. What matters is the eventual goal. You always have to play with the best team. We have to win the Davis Cup once and for all.

Q: And if that means you'll play the doubles and not singles?

David: No problem. I play on whatever day I need to.

Q: But if this time it's only the doubles...

David: Yeah, I don't have any problem with that.

Q: Has the communication with the players changed since the appointment of Martin Jaite?

David: I've had many captains with different styles. Martin is someone who has his connections with tennis, he basically knows all of us. And he works together with Zabala (Mariano Zabaleta), who I and some of the others played with. The relationship is different when there's other generations involved. The communication is very good.

Q: Does Jaite have any plans for a meeting with the important players, face to face, so that everyone will be pulling in the same direction in Davis Cup?

David: Each captain has his style and Martin prefers to talk to each player separately in order to find out what we think and want.

Q: Are your sure that Argentina can win the Davis Cup?

David: I think so. Argentina has some very good players in this generation, though the best was when there were four of us inside the Top10.

Q: Is it possible to rely on the singles for winning the Davis Cup or is there no way around having a fixed doubles team?

David: All of the points are key. The doubles sets a trend because it can give you a match point for Sunday. Strategically, as the only match played on Saturday, it's very important. In recent times, Argentina didn't have a doubles team with fixed partners. That can work for as well as against you. Not having a fixed doubles team implies that the singles players can't get any rest on Saturday but if you have a fixed doubles and they can't play the tie then you're totally disarmed. The decision about the doubles is a complicated one.
I think what David is trying to get at here, in a rather roundabout way, is that while he'll of course play the doubles if he has to (and he will have to) he still doesn't want to be exclusively seen as part of Argentina's fixed doubles, i.e. "one of the doubles guys".
Q: In Davis Cup, does experience matter more than ranking?

David: There are no rankings in Davis Cup. You can see it in many ties, where anything can happen.

Q: And you're very confident [in Davis Cup] because of the experience you have.

David: The experience helps with playing decisive and difficult matches.

Q: Was the worst part about your injury not being able to play in September?

David: I was pissed off because I couldn't play the Davis Cup semifinal. That really annoyed me. It wasn't really great to get injured a couple of weeks ahead and not being able to play. You can always return to the tournaments the next year but a Davis Cup semifinal at home is not something to get to play every day.

Q: What was your opinion about that tie?

David: It was tough because the Davis Cup is a goal I've always had and still have. It was a very tough tie but with great matches to play. I tried to be back until the week before the tie but I was in pain and I couldn't do it. It was not an easy decision.

Q: Were you more nervous than if you had played because watching from outside you can't do anything and you have to rely on the team?

David: I had faith in the team. I was relaxed because I knew that my teammates were going to give everything they could but unfortunately they didn't make it.

Q: What were you thoughts about everything surrounding that tie? Especially Juan Martin, who didn't play the fourth rubber and was booed for it...

David: I wasn't with the team the week before the tie and I was at the match as just another spectator. After all, everyone is free to act, say or do what they want or think. I think it was a tough weekend for everybody. We had the chance to play the final at home. It was a shame.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In David's Words Part II

(Irma Montiel/La Nacion)

In this second interview, by José Luis Dominguez for La Nacion, David talks about meeting with Martin Jaite, following the Davis Cup final on TV, the reason his ranking has dropped and certain measures he won't take in order to improve it...
David: The recovery from the tear was slower than expected and most importantly I didn't get to play Davis Cup. After that I had to take my foot off the gas and when I was ready to come back there were no tournaments left to play.

Q: Have you talked to Jaite about what's ahead, and about what happened in the semifinal?

David: Yeah, we met last week, I told him that he can rely on me. We talked about a bit of everything... And he knows my point of view.

Q: On what surface would you like the tie against Germany to be played?

David: On the one that makes it easier for us to win, hehe.

Q: What do you think are the chances of winning the Davis Cup in 2013?

David: I think we have a very tough draw but we have a good team and anything is possible. The Czechs have proved as much.

Q: You were busy playing polo...

David: But I did watch the final, of course. I really liked what the Czechs did there, they played an impressive tie.

Q: Did the result surprise you?

David: A little bit. There were moments when I thought that Spain would get it done. On TV, I couldn't make out whether the court was very fast or not. But apart from that it was plain to see that either of the two teams could've won the tie. The Czech team showed that they were able to pull it off. There aren't many teams that can win with only two players and if they're not fully fit then that makes it difficult for them. But those two (Berdych and Stepanek) had a very good year.

Q: Apropos Stepanek, he was pleased to win the decisive point at almost 34 years of age. Can you imagine something like that for yourself?

David: I don't know. I have to see if I still play tennis at 34, that's still a long way away. It's an idea that's very far away at this point.

Q: Right now, you're ranked #81. Is that going to keep you out of some of the tournaments? Would you return to the Challenger circuit?

David: The ranking is the result of not having been able to play until the end of the season. That's why I lost positions but I'll try to get my ranking back up again at the first tournaments I'm going to play. Now, the truth is that I'm not willing to play Challengers, I don't see myself taking that step. Next year I'm going to play, after that I'll see.

Friday, May 23, 2008

David: I Don't Want To Be A Robot (continued)

(Ignacio Colo/La Naci
Q: You could blame your blood. It's a mixture of Italian and Armenian, isn't it?

David: Yeah, and with that kind of mixture there's no way around being passionate. Pure fire.

Q: And bold. Is it true that you [bungee-] jumped from the tallest tower in Europe? There's also rally-driving, adventures with sharks.

David: Let's see... The part about jumping is true, that was in Austria [Vienna 2004] and I had fun like crazy, throwing myself from the tallest tower [not the tallest in Europe but it was still a 152-metre jump]. And everybody knows that I love cars. Together with a friend I even had a [rally] team. I love it. But the part about the sharks! Let's see if I can make you understand... It gives me the opportunity to say something about it (almost has to laugh). With the sharks, that was inside an aquarium! Come on guys, the risk is zero. I'm embarrassed to talk about it, having to explain these things. What happened was that some people loved to criticise me for it. Then it gets exaggerated and turned into some kind of tall tale.

Q: And what was that criticism about?

David: I was supposedly wasting my time, doing things where I was risking my life. It was not really true but even if it was - what's the problem? It's my life. I've been criticised a lot for getting into a car that was ready to race because people thought that it took away time from my career. And I say, what's wrong with doing what I want to do if I have a couple of days off? If I was crazy about movies then probably no one would say anything about that. But I'm sorry, I like doing all those things that are about adrenaline. I enjoy it and I'm not going to change that, no matter what anybody says. The important thing for me is to enjoy myself. I don't want to be a robot.

Q: It happens sometimes that enjoying yourself isn't compatible with a career that involves many sacrifices. Maybe yours is a very special case.

David: I don't know. I don't analyse these things. I just think that if you're not happy then you can't win anything. Least of all a match. Having fun is the fuel you run on.

Q: What other things do you allow yourself that become this necessary fuel?

David: Simple things. An asado [Argentine barbecue], for example. Obviously, if you can't do it then you can't do it. But if I get the chance to enjoy it then I will, with my heart and soul. Having an asado in Unquillo with family and friends is something sacred. And also, if you can, having some wine. Of course I think that excesses are bad. But all kinds of those. It's bad to overdo it with the training, with the concentration, with resting, with alcohol. And with asados, of course.

Q: They say that you're very good at making asados.

David: No, I only do it sometimes. But those I make turn out well, to be honest. I haven't had any complaints.

Q: Is there a secret to it?

David: I sometimes hear people talk about techniques and over-elaborate stuff with the coal and how to arrange it. But I think that the only secret to it is the butcher. Mine is called Darío Torres.

Q: As we're talking about secrets we might as well move on to intimate topics. We know that you have an eternal girlfriend but we don't know much else.

David: Together for thirteen years. We're getting to know each other!

Q: What needs to happen for you to ask her to marry you?

David: Well, step by step. We already live together.

Q: You're very reserved but that hasn't saved you from getting involved in some media scandals (linking him to models Sofía Zamolo and Victoria Vanucci).

David: The truth? Let them say whatever they want to say. I know what I do. The reality is that I'm happy, in a relationship, and have been for a long time. Of course I'm planning to have a family at some point. But all those nice things I keep to myself. In my village [Unquillo], everyone knows what I'm like. And those media scandals, what can I say? All of those came to nothing simply because they were lies. They were never able to find any proof of it. Anyway, I don't get obsessed with these things or follow them. Everyone focuses on doing their kind of thing. Luckily, I'm very happy with mine.

Q: When did you start to suspect that this kind of fairy tale could happen to you?

David: At age 12, I received approval from Guillermo Vilas, and I travelled around the world. Two years later, we were champions with the Argentine team. From then on I started to realise the dimensions of what was going to happen with me. It was very magical.

Q: How did your family do at that time?

David: Modestly. They all worked together so that I could compete. My brother [Javier] was my coach and prepared me for the world. It was a huge sacrifice for all of them.

Q: Did they make you feel like you were special?

David: They always talked to me about the power of effort and of sacrifice. In tennis, things don't happen because you're special, it's not just about talent. There are many factors. If you're a tough competitor but don't have any other strengths then it won't work. If you have the talent but don't make sacrifices it won't work, either. It's a combination of many different factors. Today, there's a battalion of kids of 14 or 15 years, who hit the ball very well. They all seem to be getting there but then they stop.

Q: What's missing?

David: Winning mentality.

Q: And how you do get that? What exactly does winning mentality mean?

David: I think that it's a quality that you're born with but that you also learn to some extent. You are who you're supposed to be but if you don't have that fire inside of you then it's not going to work. It's rather difficult to explain these things. I find it difficult to put it into words. But I want to stress that point about the inner fire, so powerful that you don't know who sent it to you but it drives you forward.

Q: Then you're talking about magic. Or the stars. Something like that.

David: Something like that.

Q: And what kind of role does fate play?

David: I don't think that there's anything like destiny. Each person makes their own. You are, consciously or unconsciously, the way you want to be.

Q: That might sound daunting to those who haven't had their brush with success.

David: Success is not the same as happiness. If you ask me what's my dream then I'll tell you that it's winning the Davis Cup. But I'm not so foolish as to believe that this is ultimate happiness. It could be, in terms of my profession. A vision that I'd love to play the leading role in.

Q: What other visions are there in your mind?

David: If I look back at the past, I see myself winning the Masters [Cup]. I see my mother and my girlfriend in the stands. Also the Wimbledon final. And a very sad one that has left its mark with me forever was the death of my father.

Q: Do you believe in God?

David: We're a Catholic family but I don't attend mass. I think that things happen as the consequence of other things. I've never believed in coincidence or luck.

Q: No belief in luck...

David: Nothing. You'll never see me wearing the same underpants or the same shirt again because I won a match, wearing them. I also don't believe in bad vibes. I think it's like seeing the glass as being half full or half empty. I don't see it that way, I don't care.

Q: And you also don't care about fear?

David: No, the truth is that I have no fear. I don't even fear death. I try not to think about it. It's because I'm hooked on taking risks, the adrenaline. If I was one for withdrawing to some dark corner then I wouldn't be able to do half the things that I do. I've always been hyperactive. As a boy, I'd drive my mother crazy. I wouldn't sit still for a second.

Q: You're very close to your mom?

David: I lover her with all my heart and soul but we don't always stick together. We send each other text messages, and not all of the time. I used to live with her until two years ago but she's totally independent.

Q: She's not the typical Armenian mother, carrying a tray to your bed.

David: No. She's not Armenian, my grandfather was. But some people think that she is because she's spectacularly good at making Armenian dishes. She learned all the recipes from the family so my brothers and me, we grew up with oriental specialties like Keppe.

Q: Raw?

David: Of course. The real thing. Raw meat, onions and all the spices. Good power, the way I like it.

Finally, there's an additional part that's a bit like a word association game. It starts with the kind of term or concept David doesn't usually have to deal with in interviews - his looks...
Among the good-looking guys in tennis? I don't think I am. I'm not at all metrosexual. I just use sunscreen so I don't get too red.

Aroma. I love the smell of wet earth. And of mate [Argentine tea].

City. Rome and Paris I always find exciting.

Argentineans.  I love my country. I'm of the opinion that the last presidents we've had haven't been that bad or that good. But well. Hopefully, in the future we'll improve in terms of respect. That's what's lacking.

Reading. I like novels. The last one was "El Sillón del Águila" by Carlos Fuentes.

Retirement. Will happen when I start to suffer on court. The day I lose my goals, the desire to compete and to make sacrifices. What will I do then? I'll start a new stage, neither better nor worse. I'll probably stay restless because that's in my DNA.

Friends in tennis. It's definitely a very individualistic sport but I'm friends with basically everyone from Argentina and Spain. Becoming friends with a Czech player, for example, isn't so very likely because it's a matter of culture.

Place in the world. Unquillo forever. Although I come and go that's where I live, in my village. And I'll go back there. There, I'm David, one of them. They're used to seeing me all the time. It's my oasis and my peace.
(Ignacio Colo/La Nacion)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Video Interview

This video interview for ESPN was shot last night (19/07/2012), with David at the Vilas Club in Buenos Aires. In case you're wondering about the Rexona Men logo in the background - the reason David was at the Vilas Club yesterday was the launch of the campaign "Rexona no abandona, David Nalbandian tampoco", i.e. Rexona doesn't let you down, neither does David Nalbandian. So here's what David says in the clip:

Rafa Nadal's withdrawal from the Olympics
You have to bear in mind how difficult the circuit is, it's very demanding. Rafa is a great competitor, a great player, a great fighter and if he withdraws from an event as important as this then it's because there's really something that keeps him from being in top form. Hopefully, he'll recover and return to the circuit soon because he's a great player.

The current state of affairs and the second half of the season
I'm fine, I feel very good, physically. I've basically spent three, four weeks training here in Argentina, getting ready. Directly after the Olympics, with the Tour we go on playing in the US. It's going to be a very tough second half of the season, until the US Open and then afterwards the Davis Cup semifinal in Argentina. That's a long series of events. But I think I'll be fine and as always I hope that I'll be able to represent my country in the best possible way.

The Olympics
About the Olympics, it's always spectacular to represent your country. From my experience, taking part in the Olympic Games is something every athlete dreams of, it's something unforgettable. To try and do it, that's everybody's dream, though I can't speak for each and every other athlete. But it's obviously a goal that you have.

Life after tennis
There are lots of things for me to do. There's still a lot... - If you retire from a sport at 30, 31, 32 you're still very young. You have projects. I have my foundation, I can't spend that much time on now while I'm still an active player. To get that going. I have other personal projects that I want to spend more attention on. Motorsports. Playing the occasional polo match with friends and some other hobbies. That's what I'm going to do for sure.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A New Interview

Prior to his first match at the Copa Claro this year, Clarin caught up with David at the BALTC after one of his training sessions. Here's the interview:
Q: How are you, going into this tournament?

David: I think I'm good. I'll tell you in a week (laughs). It's going to be a tournament with many good players, this year.

Q: Do you think you have a chance [of winning the title] or is it different this time from the other years?

David: Yes, yes. It's very nice and motivating to play here, so it's going to be an interesting tournament.

Q: As the years go by, does playing in Buenos Aires take on a different meaning for you?

David: I don't see it that way. I see it as another year. As I've said, it'll be one with good players and I'm looking forward to playing in Argentina, something I haven't done officially in a long time. I can't wait to play here.

Q: What's your analysis of the last two events, of playing Davis Cup and São Paolo, where you played on clay but indoors?

David: I think I played well in Bamberg. It was strange to play indoors, on a slippery court. That was complicated. In Brazil I won two good matches and in the third I felt the fatigue after travelling, the stress, the Davis Cup. I had my chances against Volandri but I couldn't take them. But I'm adding more matches [to my record] and that's important for having continuity.

Q: How are you handling this part of your career? I'm asking because of your age, your ranking, because of the injuries that have stopped you.

David: What has an influence are the pauses and the injuries I've had. That doesn't help at all, least of all for playing at a high level. To be sidelined for so long and because of surgeries isn't easy. But it's the reality I have to live with and that I have to face. I have to try and deal with these things as best as I can in order to remain at a good level and to try and keep up with the best.
And now comes the part about Indian Wells and Miami. As both events are included with David's official schedule, I was under the impression that he was expecting to get a wildcard. But apparently, that's not necessarily the case:
Q: Not making the main draw at the Masters events of Indian Wells and Miami, would that be frustrating?

David: No, no. I don't see that as frustrating. These things happen and obviously, I like playing those kinds of tournaments because they're important and you have the chance to gain points and I could improve the ranking I have now. I'll play other events and try to get ahead in the rankings as quickly as possible.

Q: The good thing about not playing them is that it would give you more time to train on clay ahead of the tie against Croatia?

David: We'll see. If I make the draw I'll play and if not, we'll see. Because I have to analyse how I'm going to finish this swing which is quite long after Acapulco. I'm going to analyse if I can go on playing or whether I'm going to take a break to get ready for the tie.
For the record, as of today, David is the seventh alternate on the entry list for Indian Wells and the sixth for Miami. So unless seven more players withdraw from Indian Wells (and six from Miami), David won't make the cut. And whether he'll play qualies remains to be seen.
Finally, some more questions about the Davis Cup:
Q: The last few times you said that you need the Tour to play well in Davis Cup. Is it difficult to separate the two, bearing in mind that the team started [the Davis Cup season] with a great triumph and will now play all of its ties at home?

David: That's the good thing for us now. I said before that what would be complicated would be Germany and now things are looking good for us. It's very difficult to play Davis Cup if you don't have continuity on the Tour. It's better to be playing matches, to be competing, in order to gain confidence and then be able to do better in Davis Cup.

Q: Del Potro is rising through the ranks and he's approaching the kind of level he had in 2009. You're aware that it without him it would be impossible to win the Davis Cup?

David: What I'm saying is that Juan Martin is a great player and if he's part of the team then it's better for everyone. We have to try and play with the best players we have so that Argentina has the best chances against whoever we get to play. We were able to win in Germany without him but if he's there, Argentina is a little better, whether playing at home or away.

Q: In Germany you won your 13th Davis Cup doubles and in that category you've now overtaken Guillermo Vilas, the greatest player of our country. Do you still think that statistics are just numbers or does making history interest you?

David: I still think that those things are for the day when I retire. Right now, I care about winning the Davis Cup. The numbers will continue to be numbers.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Davis Cup Interview

This is going be his third final. Will be it different from the previous ones?
He hopes that it will be [having lost the previous two]. This one is going to be really tough, for Spain and also of course for Argentina, playing on clay against the country with the most potential on that surface. Hopefully, they can make it. The Davis Cup is something that Argentina has wanted to win for a long time and it's the one trophy still missing in Argentina's collection. So hopefully they can pull it off this time.

Almost 10 years on the team, 21 ties played - how important is his experience for the team?
Experience can help you of course, the things he has been through, learned and that he knows by now. The various teams he has been part of over the years were all different, different ages, generations, different in terms of all kinds of things. He has always tried to give his best, to win his matches and that's what it's all about. But he has learned a lot over the years, all kinds of things, also from playing with older players. And you always try to learn and that's the only way of trying to achieve a common goal.

Is this their chance to avenge what happened at Mar del Plata?
No, it's a different final, on a different surface. This time it's going to be tougher for them than it was at Mar del Plata because they'll be playing on clay. So they have to be prepared for that and get there in top shape.

How important would winning the Davis Cup be, for Argentina but also for him?
Very important. Throughout his career it has always been his goal. The Davis Cup is a unique kind of competition and the sensations you experience as a player, being part of it, are great.

Will this year's final be his last chance to win it?
No. They're in the final now and of course they'll try their best to win it, just like with any other tie. But he'll still have more chances [!] to win it and they'll have a rather favourable draw next season, except for the tough first-round tie against Germany. After that, in the later rounds, they will have home ties. So if they make it past Germany then they'll have another chance.

How is the atmosphere inside the Argentine locker room¹?
It's very good. They all do what the captains plans for them to do. The atmosphere is very good now, it has improved [Belgrade seems to have been the turning point]. And he's happy about that because the only way they can win is together.
How important is it for the team to have Del Potro back as part of it?
Everybody knows how important he is, with the potential he has. He's very valuable for the team and a great player, able to play on any surface and to beat any opponent. Therefore having him on the team is very important.

What were the best and the worst moments in his Davis Cup career?
There have been many great moments and ties are hardly ever just normal. They are either great or very bad, there's really nothing in-between. Beating Australia in Australia² was an exceptional tie and extremely tough, playing on grass. That one was incredible. Out of the matches he has played at the Parque Roca, the tie against Sweden 2008 was extremely tough³. There have been many special moments. But the worst one was definitely Mar del Plata.

Why this special preference for playing Davis Cup?
It's something different, also the pressure that it means. It's different, compared to all other events.

What makes a player a great Davis Cup player?
Being able to play at the same level or better than you do on the Tour. Everybody has the same fighting spirit and wants to do well, though players have of course different personalities. But if you can manage to play at the same level or better than in normal tournaments then that's a plus.

Is there a player he looked up to as an idol, in terms of tennis but perhaps also Davis Cup?
Boris Becker. Even though he knows that he doesn't play like him, Becker was his idol, growing up.

I might add that Boris Becker led the German team to two Davis Cup titles (in 1988/89) and had a 38-3 match record in singles (54-12 in total). The "right" kind of idol for David, after all...

¹ A not exactly subtle allusion to the mayhem that allegedly went on inside the Argentine locker room at Mar del Plata

² Quarterfinal 2005; Argentina won 4-1, with David contributing 3 points, including the decisive third one in form of a straight-set victory over Lleyton Hewitt (his first one over Hewitt)

³ Quarterfinal 2008; again 4-1 for Argentina and another tie where David won 3 rubbers, clinching it in an epic five-set match against Robin Söderling - and ruining his hip in the process

Monday, May 19, 2008

Davis Cup Intermezzo - The Spanish Interview

Here it is, David's interview for EFE, the Spanish news agency (via ESPN Deportes).

Q: It's still several weeks until the final but what do you think it's going to be like?
David: The Davis Cup final is always great and everybody wants to be there and play it. It doesn't matter where it takes place or on which surface. It's something spectacular because it's a different kind of competition. It's totally different from what you get to experience at tournaments and I like it very much.
In this case it's a very tough final because all of the matches are going to be tough. And though we're aware of Spain's potential on clay we have to keep in mind that we've also played very well on that surface and therefore the matches are going to be very close. We have to win three of the five rubbers and we have to be well-prepared for all of the matches.

Q: Don't you get overwhelmed by the fact that the Spanish team will be supported by 25.000?
David: We're used to playing at huge stadiums, with lots of people and under pressure. This will be another event for us though obviously a final is much better. I don't think that the number of people will have an influence during the match.

Q: Does the presence of Rafael Nadal, who wasn't there at Mar del Plata, mean that Spain are the clear favourites this time?
David: It's still a long time until then and all kinds of things can happen. As a team we have to try and get to Spain in the best possible shape for playing the final. It doesn't matter whether you play Rafa or David [Ferrer], Almagro, Verdasco, Lopez. We have to think about ourselves and be in top form and Spain will be doing the same. It's still some time [until the final] and you have to keep in mind that you can also get injured, or feel better or worse. We have to think about and focus on ourselves and getting there in the best possible form.
If you're wondering why David keeps talking about how important it is to be in top shape or form in time for the final, that's a relic from the last one, from Mar del Plata. And David getting there in what was anything but his best shape, playing against the advice of his doctors.
Q: It's going to be a dramatic change, as the last events of the season are played on hardcourt and indoors while the final will be played on clay and at sea level. How do you see that?
David: It's the same thing, we're used to playing everywhere. Most of the time we play at sea level. Those are the conditions that the home team has chosen and for us, it's perfect. As for playing indoors and on hardcourt, those changes are always very bad. But that's what you have to deal with. It's one of the great battles for us as tennis players on the Tour because you need more time to adapt and to prepare because of injury concerns. But that's the way it is and you have to come to terms with it.
Initially, Madrid was also considered for hosting the final. But that idea was dropped quickly, because of its altitude that makes the ball fly a little bit faster. Something that the Spanish team thought might work in Argentina's favour, so now the final will be played at sea level.
Q: How is the atmosphere on the Argentine team? And how are you after a season with lots of pauses because of injuries?
David: The atmosphere on the Argentine team is very good. As for me, I'm trying to play as many matches as possible to get into the best form. So I'll play the tournaments in Stockholm, St. Petersburg and Valencia. Juan Martin has had a different year compared to mine because I was injured a lot and didn't spend much time on the circuit. During those weeks where I didn't play I got to rest and that's going to help me do well at those events still left and in the final.

Q: When you're not in form or haven't played too many matches, what is it that makes a player want to try and overcome these things?
David: The hope of winning, that motivation makes you want to get something you don't have. And I think we showed it in Serbia, where we were not the favourites but were still able to win a very difficult semifinal against a very good opponent. Argentina has a good team and if Del Potro and I are in good shape, physically and in terms of our tennis, then I think we can beat any team, anywhere.
Another quote in this context: "If anyone can beat Spain then it's Argentina." But it wasn't David, who said that. It was Spain's captain Albert Costa (source).
Q: Nadal is scheduled to play this final. But what would change if he's not on the Spanish team?
David: All of the Spanish players are very good and beating them is always difficult. Also David [Ferrer], Nico [Almagro], Juan Carlos [Ferrero], Fernando [Verdasco] and Marcel [Granollers] have had a very good season and it won't be easy to beat them

Q: Is there a feeling of wanting to take revenge for the defeat against Spain at home in Mar del Plata?
David: We're professionals and especially with the Spanish players we have a great relationship. I do, with all of those, who play on the Tour. I think it was very sad to have lost at home against them. But I was also glad when they won [the Davis Cup] in Sevilla 2004 or in Barcelona 2008 [that was 2009, against the Czech Republic]. It makes you happy because they are colleagues and friends. And it's nice to see them doing well. Whenever we get to meet in the locker room the atmosphere is spectacular.
- And it will be spectacular at Sevilla, also outside of the locker room.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

David: I'm not yet thinking about the End

Before Washington, and with it David's quest to try and defend his title, kicks off, here's a recent interview with David that I just discovered on a Spanish site. Apart from answering the usual questions about the Davis Cup (and about Delpo), David also talks about how he deals with his frequent injury problems, about not yet thinking about ending his career and his expectations for the upcoming hardcourt events. As well as revealing the strangest moment he ever experienced during a match and who he thinks has the best backhand on Tour...
Q: First of all, I'd like to congratulate you on Argentina making the Davis Cup semifinal, it seems that this year you're close to getting your first and long-awaited 'Ensaladera' [= 'salad bowl', Spanish nickname for the Davis Cup trophy].

David: Yes, we're in the Davis Cup semifinal again. Our goal is to win, hopefully.

Q: Serbia is a tough opponent, they're the reigning champions, they're playing at home, with Novak Djokovic - what are your options for trying to beat them? We can say that those options rest on you and Del Potro playing at your best level.

David: I think it's crucial that Juan Martin and I get there in good physical shape to be able to compete against Serbia. It's certainly a tough opponent and they have the world number one, playing at a very high level. But I'm confident that our team can beat the Serbian team. Of course it's going to be very difficult.

Q: Djokovic is the player of the season, he has won almost everything and he's the number one. What do you need to do to beat him? What do you think is his weakness on court?

David: Djokovic is a very complete player, he's in great shape physically and playing at a very high level. I think to be able to beat him you need to stay focused throughout and play a perfect match. There is no other option.

Q: In a hypothetical final, which opponent would you prefer, Spain or France?

David: Both are very difficult opponents because both are very good teams, very complete. To win the Davis Cup you have to beat everyone.

Q: Another important event will be next year's Olympics. Many players are already thinking about that. Are you planning to take part in the mixed doubles? As it looks like that's what Federer or Roddick are going to do. What are your expectations, ahead of the Olympics?

David: The Olympics, just like the Davis Cup, are very important for me because I get to represent the country. Apart from that, they only take place once every four years. I think next year will my last chance to take part in the Olympics and that also makes them so special for me.

Q: The Olympics may be the final point in the career of some great players. In your case, can you see yourself playing for a couple more years or do you think about retirement every day a little more and about spending your time on other things?

David: For now I'll keep on playing, I feel good despite my injuries that I've had in recent years. I'm not yet thinking about the end of my tennis career. The day I do, I'm going to enjoy spending time with my family and friends, and I'll live a quiet life in my village, Unquillo.

Q: Injuries have been a constant factor in your career. I guess you've had to learn to live with them. Had it not been for those physical problems do you think you could've become the number one, could've won a Grand Slam?

David: It's true that I've had a career with many injuries, they've made things difficult for me at some tournaments and they've made me miss others, but that's the way this sport is. I've learned that and I take it as part of the game. Injuries haven't allowed me to be consistent on the Tour and that always affects the ranking.

Q: Are you still able to be successful at a major?

David: I hope so! I will do everything I can because my dream is to win the Davis Cup and a Grand Slam.

Q: 2010 was a difficult year for you because you had to come back after hip surgery. Towards the end of the season you played great tennis and you made your way back inside the Top 30. In 2011, injuries played a nasty trick on you again and they've kept you from continuing your progress. If all goes well what do you expect from the American swing?

David: I look forward to slowly recovering my game and my level of fitness. It's difficult to return after an operation and do it calmly. I hope I'll get as far as possible at every tournament to prepare in the best way for the Davis Cup semifinal in Serbia.

Q: Another major comeback has been the one by your compatriot Juan Martin Del Potro. Do you think he's able to make it back to the top? Including being one of the main contenders for the next US Open.

David: Juan Martin is a great player with a lot of potential and he has everything it takes to continue moving up in the rankings. I think that if he continues to develop the way he has done so far, then could go very far.

Q: At what tournament will you return and what's your schedule for the coming months?

David: I'm going to play the ATP 500 in Washington again, after that the Masters 1000 in Montréal, the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati, the U.S. Open and Davis Cup.

Q: I'd like to hear about the strangest anecdote or thing that ever happened to you on a tennis court.

David: Once in the middle of Davis Cup, I really needed to pass water and I had to do it in a tube of balls, surrounded by a group of people so nobody could see me. It was a difficult moment, haha...

Finally, ten short questions:

1. The match to remember with the most pride:
David: There are several, but perhaps the final of the Masters Cup in Shanghai is the one I'm the most proud of.

2. The worst match you've played:
David: Too many.

3. Tics during the match:
David: I don't have any.

4. How to concentrate before a match:
David: I check the strings, the racquets, the grips.

5. The opponent you wouldn't want to play against:
David: No one.

6. Best forehand on the Tour:
David: Roger Federer.

7. Best backhand:
David: David Nalbandian.

8. Best serve:
David: Roddick.

9. The most complete opponent:
David: There are several. Roger is a very good opponent, he does everything very easily, Rafa has the best physical condition on the Tour, Novak is a very complete player, he hits his forehand as well as his backhand very well.

10. Friends on the Tour:
David: Because of the Spanish language I have good friends among the Spaniards. The Argentine and the Spanish players are great friends on the Tour.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Davis Cup Semifinal 2011- News & Travel Plans

Post updated:

In September, after the US Open, David and the rest of the Argentine team will travel to Serbia for the Davis Cup semifinal, which will take place on September 16 - 18.

As has been confirmed by now, the tie will be held at the Belgrade Arena.

Tickets will go on sale on Monday, August 8 and will be available via

For those of you who are planning or considering a trip to Serbia to see and support David and the team, here you can discuss your travel plans with fellow VamosDaviders.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mythbusters: Gervasio Esteban David Ezequiel Nalbandian

Perhaps you've come across it before, at one of the big forums, on Twitter, on other blogs, or even in some press articles and profiles: Gervasio Esteban David Ezekiel Nalbandian.
Supposedly David's full and complete name. A cool little piece of insider info. - Or is it, really?

It all began in the autumn of 2007. Back then, American tennis writer Peter Bodo covered David's run at the Madrid Masters. And apart from match reports and analyses, he also supplied the readers of his Tennis World blog with an interesting, as well as funny little detail:
By the way, how many people know that David Nalbandian's full name is Gervasio Esteban David Ezequiel Nalbandian? (full post)
Bodo mentioned it a couple of times and due to the popularity of his blog, it quickly spread on the net. (With the 'qu' in "Ezequiel" often getting replaced by the more convenient 'k'.)
But where did Peter Bodo get it from?

The answer is simple - Wikipedia. During Madrid 2007, this is what the first line of David's Wikipedia entry looked like (visually reconstructed by me; click on images to view complete entries which include old revision disclaimers):

Edited to look like that on September 7, 2007. At this point, it could still be a case of someone supplying some extra information. But a closer look at the revision history of the article reveals that on that particular day, the same anonymous user edited David's Wikipedia entry several times. And it also shows that this user tried out different names for David before eventually arriving at his or her four-name "masterpiece".

Here's a look at those earlier versions, all by the same user, made on the same day:

In case there are any doubts left about the motives of said user:

Getting a little closer to the final version:

In the end, the final version, Gervasio Esteban David Ezequiel, remained on Wikipedia for less than two months before another user revised the article again and got rid of the "extra names".
But because it happened to be on the page when David had his run at Madrid and because a well-known American tennis writer used it on his blog without any further fact checking - another myth was born on the internet...

P.S. And for the record - it's David Pablo Nalbandian.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A little Something...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

David interviewed at Santiago

Here's the interview that David gave Olé's German Martina in Santiago (probably yesterday, it doesn't say in the article)...
Before talking to Olé, David signs a couple of autographs, waves at some fellow players at the players lounge (especially at the Italian Fabio Fognini, who responds with a friendly "hola, Rey") and poses for photos. "Okay now, I have time to talk before tennis and gym," he says.

Q: You're going to play three out of the four weeks in February on clay. How is that going to work out with your body?

David: Actually, the best option would've been to play the hardcourt events in the US, where the hip doesn't suffer as much and I feel that I play better. But I'll take every opportunity I get to play at home, I like it very much. And, like at Buenos Aires, I'm preparing here at Santiago, a tournament that's the least of my worries because of the altitude here that makes the ball travel a bit faster through the air. And I finish [the Golden Swing] at Acapulco, which is a big tournament.

Q: How have you recovered from a match as intense as the one that you won against Hewitt at the Australian Open?

David: Fine. Fortunately, there were no physical problems. Against Hewitt, I had the worst possible first-round match of the entire draw and we played an extremely tough match, crazy. I was very nervous, felt a lot of tension and I ended up totally cramping. I wasn't able to recover. I suffered fatigue, worse than after any other match. In the second round, I thought that I would feel better as the match went on but it got worse. And the doctor told me that my body was not ready to suffer another major strain. It was the dizziness that worried me.

Q: Are you concerned that after another battle like this the same thing could happen to you again?

David: No, I think it was because these are the first matches of the year. As the year goes on, I'll get accustomed to strains like this. I won't have problems.

Q: How bad is it for you, not having been able to advance further in Australia?

David: You put up with it... It's a tournament where it gets twice as hard with every round you advance and where you have to give your best to make a difference. I was playing well and felt that I could've gone further.

Q: Anyway, the good thing about it is having beaten Hewitt...

David: Yes, it's always nice to beat Lleyton, because of what it means in tennis. Especially because of how I won the match and at the end, we were both dead on our feet. I felt a great joy at defeating a Hewitt, who almost seemed to play like in his best days. That leaves me with some very nice memories.

Q: Are there any plans to change the strategy against players like this, in order to keep yourself from having to pay the price, physically?

David: You always try... The question is what your opponent will allow you to do. I often try to keep the points short and find a way of winning but the opponent keeps you from doing that.

Q: The tournament in Buenos Aires will take place in two weeks. Maybe it's different this time because of the quality of players that are going to be there...

David: Yes, compared to the other years, this time the players will be much more dangerous. The tournament is going to be very difficult. But everything always depends on my level. If I'm playing well, I've got a chance against anybody. I have to worry only about myself. Hopefully I can win because it's great to win at home.

Q: How difficult is it at this point to keep on travelling and to play tournaments week after week?

David: It gets more and more difficult to take a plane every week. But that's the way it is, that's the life that I have to be ready to accept. And I also want to make the best of those last travels and years of my career that I have left.

Another reason that Nalbandian has chosen to play the clay-court swing is the Davis Cup [first-round tie] that will be played on March 4-6 at the Parque Roca. To prepare for this tie, Modesto 'Tito' Vázquez (team captain) and Ricardo Rivera (vice captain) have begun supervising the work of the Argentine players, with the aim of nominating four players. For his part, "El Rey" is calm and not worrying too much. "It's always better to first play at home. The Romanian team has some dangerous players but they're not quite as dangerous on clay. They play better on hardcourt," says the highest-ranked Argentine player.

P.S. - and this is the photo Olé chose to accompany this interview.
I kid you not...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Interviews about Asia, Scheduling and Lyon...

Here are the other two interviews David gave in Buenos Aires yesterday.
First up, the one with Marcelo Maller for Clarin (from which the photo above has also been taken)...
Q: Why did you pull out of the Asian swing?

David: Because we came back from a very long series of tournaments and we thought that I would recover a little better from the fatigue, and also my muscles. But it didn't happen and under those conditions it was too risky. So we decided to stay here, to train and then play the indoor tournaments. That decision was also influenced by the long trip and the time differences that I would've had to endure, which are two important factors.

Q: What is your assessment of your physical state and your tennis?

David: Like with each tennis year, there are some highs. In the first half [of the season] I ended up not playing for a muscular tear here, and another one there, some discomfort. And I had to pull out of many tournaments, that was worrying us. During the US swing I had very good results and that made me relax because it tells you that you're in good shape. That [US hardcourt] swing made us realise that I can't focus on playing that many tournaments in a row, having such a crowded schedule, and that, thinking about 2011, I'll have to include some pauses between the tournaments so that I don't get so tired. Luckily enough, nothing happened to me, I was tired. But let's not forget that I had hip surgery.

Q: What goal did you set out to achieve by the end of the year?

David: The plan was to finish inside the Top 30 to be seeded in Australia. And during the previous swing before the US Open I already managed to make it there, which was very good and perhaps something that nobody expected. Now with the few tournaments I have left [this year] I still hope to improve in the rankings, in order to make good plans for 2011.

Q: Some time has passed since the tie in Lyon. You left without notifying the captain -

David: (interrupts) I told him, one hundred percent. Thousand percent. Zeballos left that night because he was going to play in Metz and asked if I could leave that night. Tito and Caio Rivera [vice-captain] told me that there was no problem.

Q: I wanted to ask if you've done some self-criticism.

David: What I said was what we talked about before the tie, together with the other players and with Tito and Caio. He came up with that strategy and it was very clear that he didn't want to risk making those changes and that he wouldn't play Schwank in singles and only let him play doubles. It was a decision he made. What I did on Friday was to say what we talked about on Wednesday. I didn't say it with any kind intention. Anyway, I should've beaten Monfils on Friday, Saturday or any day.

Q: Vazquez has a year left of his contract, is that okay for you?

David: It's the Asociación [Argentina de Tenis, AAT] that decides who's captain. I think we had good year in Davis Cup, I've known him since he travelled with me and Coria [in junior days]. When Gattiker was captain I played, also under Luza, Luli (Mancini) and now Tito. If there's another captain tomorrow, I'll continue playing but that decision is not for us to make.

Q: What do you think of the Davis Cup draw for 2011?

David: Obviously there's a better chance to win, playing at home, and Romania isn't quite as strong.

Q: Did you watch Del Potro's comeback?

David: I saw a bit of his match against Rochus but not the one last night [against Lopez at Tokyo], no. I think he didn't play bad, he served very well. Those errors I saw him make are normal at that kind of stage. He didn't play a bad match.

Q: If you're both well, physically - is it possible to dream again?

David: No doubt about that. The better the team we can put together, the better chances we'll have of winning. He's a great player and with him we'll have much better chances.

Q: Will Mancini be your coach in 2011?*

David: I have no changes planned, I'm staying with Luis Lobo.

*There were rumours about David having fallen out with Lobo and getting ex-captain Alberto Mancini as his coach.

And finally, some additional quotes from David's interview for MundoD...
I think the final result is very good. I lost a lot of time because of injuries, but the goal that we set, to be among the Top 30 to get seeded in Australia next year, I achieved that during this [US hardcourt] swing. And I played some very good matches, I beat some very good players and lost to others. That shows me the parameter, that I can still keep fighting up there at the top level.

I'm fine, really fine, but I had surgery and I have to be a little careful with the schedule because of what happened to me now, because I played many consecutive tournaments in the United States and now I can't go to Asia and miss out on playing two big tournaments.

I finished the US swing feeling very tired. We thought that I was going to recover to be ready for the Asian events, but no, I was still tired and from the medical standpoint it would've been risky for me to go because I could've ended up getting injured. So I didn't go [to Asia] in order to play the European indoor tournaments, the last ones at the end of the year.

Those are nice tournaments and I like them. I could've gained many points at Tokyo and Shanghai, but now that's not going to happen. Apart from that the time difference and the strain wouldn't have allowed me to get to Europe in good shape. Faced with this kind of panorama, we decided to focus on the indoor events.

I like playing indoors, hopefully I can return there and play well, with good results. Those are the last tournaments of the year and you should try to end the season on a high note, that's always good.

I had a very complicated first half of the season and then a very long series of tournaments from Washington to the Davis Cup, we didn't really think it would be that way. I wasn't used to playing so many matches and obviously I was feeling exhausted.

I think that with the level I still have, I have to get a little more used to playing regularly, in order to spend more time playing, being healthy.

The next year could be great, because during the entire first half of the season I don't have many points to defend and I'll have many possibilities. I'll have to be careful with the schedule, though, not overdo it and the rest will take care of itself. I feel good. When will I be at 100%? That depends on when I defend the points, on how I am, there are too many factors to say now I'll be fine for this or that tournament.

Davis Cup
Nothing happened! What I said was a comment on something we talked about among the coaches and the players on Wednesday and I had zero intention of creating any problems. I just said what we talked about on the team, and nothing else. What happened then [after those talks] was a decision by the captain, which you have to respect, and it didn't work out.

I didn't do it on purpose. My plan was what I talked about with the other guys, but he (Vázquez) was very clear when he said: 'I understand what they're saying, we're going to analyse it, but we don't want to make that change.' It is a decision by the captain.

I said to him if I could leave on Sunday afternoon and there was no problem. Had he told me to stay because we needed to talk, I would've stayed. They told me 'it's okay, leave, we'll talk in Buenos Aires when we get back.' I didn't leave just like that.

Hopefully we'll do well [next year], because playing at home helps and we have a better first round than we did this year. And Juan Martin is always important. That we play together in Davis Cup will be important for our chances to win it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

David: I'm back

Here are the complete interviews.
First of all the one from Clarin...
Q: What's behind the phenomenal momentum you've had since your return to the circuit? [Meaning - at Washington.] Talent, desire, the head, a miracle?

David: It's a mixture of everything. After this long time without playing, I had a tremendous desire to come back. I had a very good preparation and from Davis Cup on, I also had more continuity. The good results, like winning the title at Washington, followed quickly and without doubt, it helped me that everything was even better than I imagined.

Q: Hand on heart, could you beat Nadal or Federer now?

David: Time will tell... Because I haven't played against either of them since my return to competitive tennis. [He did at Miami but the first half of the season seems forgotten now.] I could give them a real fight. I'm playing well, I feel good, every day I see how I can improve things. I had a week of recovery and training. After the bustle of all those matches, I'm now in an excellent position to adjust more details of my game. This work I did with the carefulness that was necessary for coming to New York in good shape. Returning to the question, I'm also aware that against them you don't win just by playing well, you have to do more than just that.

Q: What's your aim for this US Open?

David: I was lucky to be seeded, something I wouldn't have thought possible, not too long ago. I'm going to take it match by match, as always, although I see myself as having chances of making it to the second week. I want to go as far as possible and if I keep up the level of the last tournaments, there's a lot of players I can beat. My plan is to continue in this vein.

Q: Have you had a look at the draw? You'd be facing Nadal in the quarterfinal...

David: If I get to the quarterfinal, then it's because I'm playing very well... (Smiles.) What's certain is that all matches at a Grand Slam are tough. You can't allow yourself to lose your focus against anyone because that can get you in trouble in those matches where you wouldn't think you could get in trouble. And apart from that there's always some surprise. I hope to take advantage of being seeded. And I repeat: I'm going to continue down the same road I've been travelling on.

Q: Can you concentrate on the US Open with the Davis Cup semifinal (September 17-19 against France at Lyon) so close at hand?

David: The further we get, the other guys and me, the better... That would mean we'd get to Lyon well-prepared and confident. And we'd still have a couple of days to adapt to the surface.

Q: The bigger loss for which team: Argentina without Del Potro or France without Tsonga?

David: Both are important losses for their teams. We have played two ties without Juan Martin and this will be another one. We'll see...

Q: Can France be defeated at home?

David: This tie is going to be a little more tough than the one against Russia. Because they have a very good doubles team and those two singles players who are supposedly going to play (he means Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon) have a similar level as Davydenko and Youzhny. That's why the doubles is of such importance.

Q: If Argentina makes it past France, would that mean getting closer to the term "champions"...?

David: No. Don't forget that we played the final in Mar del Plata (against Spain) and we lost. You don't just deserve to win these matches, you have to earn those victories.

Q: Do you win the Davis Cup with tennis or with unity?

David: Since the days of Guillermo Vilas and José Luis Clerc, the problems with getting along have always worked against Argentina's chances. And we never never learned from those mistakes. Obviously, I wasn't part of what happened back in those days, so I'm not in the position to talk about it. I do think that you win the Davis Cup with a mixture of both. If you don't have quality players you're not going to win just because of the unity of the team.

Q: What do you want more, the Davis Cup or a Grand Slam?

David: Both. They make for only a small part of the season and are the most important. The Davis Cup title is what the country is lacking, that's why it's special.

Q: During your long injury pause, that included surgery, was there a moment when you thought "that's it"? When you thought about quitting tennis?

David: No, never. Because I'm convinced that I still have things to give to tennis. Despite surgery, I always thought positively, even in the most difficult moments. I have two, three, four more years at a good level.

Q: So you don't have a fixed date for your retirement...

David: No, I'll see how it all turns out. The day I no longer feel the adrenaline of competing, I'll make that decision... Until now, I've always felt it... It's intact.

Q: You think that's why you've never lost the respect of your opponents, even when you dropped down in the rankings?

David: They know that I'm Nalbandian, with all that goes with it, and not just what the numbers say.

And the one from Cancha Llena/La Nacion, the title of which I've borrowed for this post. - A title that David suggested himself.
It would be too much to say that this is the best year of my career. In terms of the results, I've had better seasons. But this comeback is a dream, it's excellent. Because of all that has happened, because of the surgery, because of the uncertainty of whether I'd ever be able to play again. What will the future bring? My goal was to be inside the Top 30 by the end of the year, in order to be seeded at the Australian Open. And now I am seeded and I've already exceeded those expectations. From not knowing where my career was going to return to this kind of level. That's huge.

At the beginning of 2010, I had a lot of doubts. I knew that playing on clay would be difficult for me. I had one tear after the other. A lot of bad luck. I asked myself - what's going on? I didn't expect it to be so tough during the first half of the year. And then, with the Davis Cup tie against Russia and what came after that, everything went perfect.

Q: Was there ever a moment where you thought you would no longer be able to play at a high level?

David: No, no. And I never thought of quitting. I was always optimistic, it never crossed my mind. If all those bad things, like the injuries, had kept on happening to me, this year and then also for part of next year, then what would you say? But no. I knew I had to fight.

Q: Do you believe in destiny? Like you've been touched by a magic wand?

David: I don't know if that's what happened. But I've always stood up to adversity. Both with injuries and in life. That has made me stronger. Sometimes I say - I'm going to play. I was playing on one leg against Sweden and I won both matches, the doubles and the singles. For the sake of the tie against Russia I didn't go to Wimbledon in order to train. I got there without any match practice and won. It's the desire to compete, the obsession that is Davis Cup. I can overcome anything [for that].

Q: And not ever sitting still, even during the worst times.

David: I never just sat on the couch, watching TV. Meetings friends, going to the cinema. I couldn't run when I was injured but I did other things. I always do something, maybe that's why I have this willpower. To do something to go further.

Q: Still having the same dreams, a Grand Slam or the Davis Cup?

David: I haven't changed anything, I still want to win a Grand Slam and the Davis Cup. I'm still in the position to do so. I've showed that I still have the level for it. And the desire. I can make my way back among the best. Without more injuries.

[About Rafa]
Well, in that sense Rafa is an animal. He doesn't sleep, and is at 100% all day long. Apart from the problem with his knees, he has supreme energy. Physically, he's tremendous. He's an example because he's at the top and he's used to playing with pain, with discomfort. He has tremendous energy. playing PlayStation, playing "to the death". He's superhuman...
After ending with the words, "I'm calm. I'm confident," David asked if the article was going to be called "I'm back" - like he had suggested before the start of the interview. Ariel Ruya, journalist for La Nacion did go with that title in the end. And what better one could there have been?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Washington Win - in David's Words...

Here are some quotes from David after his victory at Washington. About the final itself, what winning this title means to him and also about the future.

First of all from the latest press release on the official site.
(Photo: Reuters)
I'm very glad to have won a tournament as important as this one and I'm happy to have played at a very high level throughout the week.

I played a great first set and felt the effects of the heat in the second, just when Marcos started to play very well.

On the other hand, a lot of time had passed since I last had this experience of playing a final, the last match like that was when I won the tournament in Sydney, in January 2009.

I came here, hoping to gain match practice and then ended up finding myself playing very well, making it through round after round with moments of playing at the highest level.

[about his team]
I thank all the guys for their dedication and their professionalism, helping me to return to the circuit in this kind of form.

Now, I'm heading to Toronto for the Canadian Masters 1000 next week, where I hope to perform as well as I did here, this week.

From La Nacion...
Those have been difficult times, this last year and a half, because of the injuries and hip surgery. Now is the time to enjoy this moment. I'm very happy to be back.

It's very important (to me) because I worked very hard for my comeback. It makes me feel that I'm in great shape again, not only in terms of the ranking but also in terms of my game, of everything. I think this has been a great victory.

I've been training a lot and I did very well, playing Davis Cup [against Russia]. But the truth is that I didn't expect to win the first tournament after coming back.

[about the US Open]
I'll try to do my best. Right now, I feel fine, I finished the tournament without having any problems but it's still three weeks to go. If I can continue like this, I know that I'm going to have my chances.

I was very good in the first set. In the second, I started to feel the effects of the heat and Baghdatis also played better. At that moment, it was important to stay close in terms of the score to still have a chance and play well in the important moments. In the tiebreak, I always felt that I had everything under control.

From Clarin...
I'm very happy. I hadn't played a final for a year and a half, hadn't experienced this kind of adrenaline and that's an important factor, as well. I played well in the first set and in the second, I really felt the heat, as on court, it was around 40°C. Marcos began to play well, too but I managed not to let him get too far ahead on the scoreboard. I played the important points well and also the tiebreak, during which I felt the whole time that I was going to win. In fact, I almost managed to go up 6-0 but then he played a good passing shot and I had to fight a little more.

I felt the heat but I didn't feel tired. I feel very well, physically and without any pain.

I'm infinitely grateful to my all of my team, Luis Lobo, Claudio Galasso and Diego Rodriguez. Without them, I could not have achieved this.

The main objective, coming to Washington was to gain match practice. During the week, I tried to play aggressively, to take a lot of risk. I felt that my body responded well. I played a perfect match against Cilic in the semifinal and against Simon, I took a lot of risk because I watched him play this week and he seemed to be doing very well.

From Cancha Llena...
If you spend a lot of time away from the courts, you lose touch with tennis. You lose the adrenaline that's generated every time you walk onto the court. I try to enjoy myself every time.

I think I have three or four more years of playing at the highest level.

It's tough to come back and to do so, playing well.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Two Interview Clips...

Filmed after the draw ceremony today.

Whether he's the #1 or #2 singles player doesn't make any difference. But it has been clear from the start that this first match will be tough, long and complicated. He knows that he lacks match practice but with a match like this one, you never know. Maybe he'll be able to play well and it won't matter so much.
The question for David himself is whether he'll be able to keep up with the other players and their high level. But he's not too worried about it, hoping that he'll manage. Even though he hasn't played any matches in nearly four months [three]. It would've been better to come here with a couple of matches under his belt. Now that's not the case but he was able to train more and have the best preparation. But it's difficult to assess the situation.
The surface is like nothing he has ever seen before, also different from what it was like in 2006. It's fast but the ball bounces very high. He thinks that on this surface, you have to play aggressively, take the initiative. Defend of course if you have to but playing passively wouldn't be a good idea.

At the beginning, when one of the journalists compliments David on how well he has been doing in training and how quickly he has adapted to the surface, David interrupts, joking that tomorrow the press might write the exact opposite...
He feels good and thinks he's playing well. And tomorrow he'll go out there and try to win the first point. But it's difficult to say at which kind of level he is at the moment. Maybe seven out of ten is his guess.
Which rubbers he plays will depend on the team captain. He doesn't feel ready to play on all three days. But in the end, that decision will be made spontaneously.
Asked if it's a good thing that he's going to open the tie for Argentina, with all the Davis Cup experience he has, David's reply is that if he wins - yes. But if he loses, it will mean more pressure for Leo.
Still, playing away ties always means nerves. If he manages to win the first point, all will be easier and much more relaxed. But playing away ties means playing with nerves, for Leo and also for him.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Wimbledon Backflash - The "Tanked Match"

(La Nacion archive)

Allow me to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Back to a certain match David played at Wimbledon, almost exactly four years ago. Some of you will remember it. But others may not know the story behind that particular match...

It's one of the classic anecdotes about David. You can find it on forums and sometimes also in articles from the English-speaking press: David once tanked a match at Wimbledon because he wanted to watch football.

June 30, 2006. On the day of David's Wimbledon third-round encounter with Fernando Verdasco, another important match takes place. At 4pm London time, Argentina face Germany in the quarterfinal of the World Cup. David's match starts at noon. He has asked the organisers for this early start because of the football and his wish has been granted.
2 hours and 47 minutes later, Verdasco defeats David 7-6(9), 7-6(9), 6-2.
And perhaps mainly because of that 6-2 in the final set, the myth of the "tanked match" is born.

The reasons? In June 2006, David was ranked #3 and came to SW19 straight from having made the semifinal at Roland Garros. Perhaps, a lot of people thought that this time, he might be able to repeat his dream run to the Wimbledon final of 2002. And there's also David's reputation as a fighter, able to come back from two sets down.

What usually doesn't get mentioned in connection with this match is that going into it, David was still struggling with the abdominal strain that forced him to retire during the Roland Garros semi and which kept him from playing the preparatory grass-court tournaments. Of course, abdominal strains affect the ability to serve. And the longer a match goes on, the more likely players are to be in pain...
But David did fight in this match, he created a lot of opportunities - he just couldn't take them (he had 19 break points but only managed to convert one). So maybe it's not surprising that he already started to lose his temper in the first set and smashed his racquet. It simply was one of those days where nothing really seemed to work for David. At the same time, Verdasco played a good match, serving well and hitting lots of winners. And perhaps, on that particular day, losing in two very tight and one not so tight sets was really all that David could manage. World Cup, or no.

Between his match and the football, David gave one of his famously minimalist press conferences (which probably added to the impression that he was in a hurry)...
Q: You had a racquet warning. You appeared to lose your temper a bit in the first set. What was going through your mind at that point?
David: Nothing.

Q: I don't know if this has been asked. You wanted to watch the football this afternoon?
David: Yeah.

Q: Obviously, now you're out, you can watch it. Was that a decision, do you think, to change around the way you were going to play?
David: What? What do you mean? I didn't understand.

Q: Is that right, that you had the match moved so you could watch the football this afternoon?
David: Yeah, and?

Q: No, I just thought if that hampered your preparations at all.
David: Oh, no.

Q: Are you a big football fan?
David: Yeah, normal.

Q: You watch a lot of football?
David: Normal.

Q: Which is what? What is 'normal,' I mean?
David: Not every single matches, but some matches I watch it.

Q: Do you think Argentina can win the World Cup?
David: I think so, yeah. Yeah. (ASAP Sports)

Germany beat Argentina on penalties that day.
This year, they will meet again - once more in the quarterfinal.
The World Cup final will take place on July 11 - on Davis Cup Sunday. But in Moscow it'll already be near midnight when it's time for the kick-off.
Plenty of time for David. And for all sorts of Davis Cup drama before watching the football.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"I'm tired of rehabilitation, I want to travel" - more Interviews with David

(Daniel Feldman/Clarin; from 2009)

After not giving any interviews for many long weeks, David has apparently decided to do a whole round of them before leaving for Britain.
So here are two more, both of them from Clarin (thanks, Anna). In the first one, David talks about his preparation on grass, making his comeback on that particular surface, injuries in general and Wimbledon...
Q: Are you back at 100% physically the way you should be for your return?

David: 100% - that's difficult to say. I'm fine and we're never really free from having something. I would've liked to have been in better shape, as in having played more matches before playing a Grand Slam. But if you ask me if I'm feeling good, I'm going to tell you yes, I'm feeling good.

Q: No more pain now?

David: Only the usual ones and I'm a bit tired after a week of tough practicing. It's not like I'm all fresh and brandnew again, as if there have been no interruptions.

Q: How do you get some practice on grass?

David: Well, to be honest, there are no good grass courts in Argentina. Luckily enough, we know someone who has one at home and all in all, that one was pretty good. You have to keep in mind that it's winter here, not ideal for playing on grass.

Q: Is it maybe ideal for you to return on this surface, or would you prefer to return, playing on hardcourt?

David: What a question... I don't know. I don't know which one is better for me, physically. On grass, you don't get so tired but you end up feeling pain in your back or gluteus. I don't know if it's ideal. But I like playing on grass, I enjoy it. I hope I'll do well.

Q: How are you going to get out of that vicious cycle of injury, matches and then another injury again?

David: The doctors told me that it's "normal" as long as I'm not used to playing competitive tennis and that it's going to take until the middle of the year. More or less the time of the year we're at now. Until Roland Garros and Wimbledon it was going to be difficult for me. I hope that the second half of the year will be more normal. If there's only one more injury until the end of the year I would be content. If there are none I would be happy.

Q: It seems that your ranking has dropped and therefore, you could meet Nadal, Federer or Djokovic in the first round.

David: Yes. There's the issue of losing ground in terms of the ranking. I'll have to keep it up.

Q: What was going on in your head during those months of recovery? It was the first time that something like that happened to you.

David: It's a different process. Athletes are prepared to compete, not to be injured. Those are difficult and tricky moments. Fortunately, I have a team that supports me and I'm very active. If you give me two hours off, I'll go and make up my own program, I don't just sit around at home. And that helped me during those times, to have a good time without tennis, something I hadn't done before. It wasn't too hard for me.

Q: Before that series of injuries, didn't you take care to train well?

David: Yes, because what I had was a problem with a worn-out hip joint. Something that never happened to me in fifteen years [of professional tennis]. It's something that can come with the years.

Q: Del Potro and Monaco are injured. You've been injured. What's happening with the circuit?

David: I've said it before, the circuit is a meat grinder. And it's not just the problem of us three, we all suffer. Maybe the only one who's not affected by it is Federer.

Q: What's it like to return to Wimbledon?

David: Very nice, so I'm happy to play there again. That's where I got my first big kick, playing at this kind of tournament. So I'm looking forward to it.

Q: What do remember about 2002? And why were you not able to make the final again after that?

David: After that I had a good year, I lost in the quarterfinal. And the year after that, I reached that stage again. To tell you the truth, I don't know why I couldn't do it but at other tournaments I couldn't, either. I still remember how crazy that week was and how the first time I got to play on Centre Court was in the final.

In the second interview David talks about his favourite subject again - the Davis Cup...
Q: What do you think of the situation, now that Monaco has pulled out?

David: Pico is a great player though indoors he hasn't been quite as successful. He's a valuable player for the team but more important for us is the absence of Juan Martin.

Q: Is it possible to win the Davis Cup without Del Potro?

David: Obviously, it would be much easier to win it with him. There's no doubt about that because that's the way it is. You don't get to have a quality player like Juan Martin on your team every day. I wish he could come back soon and be on the team with the rest of us. And I'd love it if we could win [the Davis Cup]. But so far we haven't managed to achieve that.

Q: With this tie, it doesn't seem too likely because of Davydenko and Youzhny. Is there still a chance to dream of winning?

David: Every country has its players and there are times when anything can happen. Back in 2006 we played against Croatia with Ljubicic and Ancic. Ancic got injured a couple of days before the tie. With him, the tie would've been much tougher. Who's the favourite depends on the home advantage and the quality of the players. But we have our team and we're going to give our best in order to win.

Q: How many rubbers will you play? Two like against Sweden? Three?

David: I'd like to play two singles matches, that's what I've always said. But I'll have to see what kind of form I'm in. That would be ideal and having a fixed doubles that also has a bit of experience, I could rest on Saturday. But in the end, always something strange happens and then I end up playing three rubbers. But we'll see, together with the captain.

Q: Those two matches you played in Russia, you played very well but the team lost. What kind of memories do you have of that tie?

David: Good ones but it was another final that we lost. I won my two matches but we didn't manage to win a third point. Too bad.

Q: And the match in 2002, your debut in the doubles and the match that lasted for 6 hours and 20 minutes? The one you played with Arnold against Safin and Kafelnikov?

David: That was a historical doubles match. It was a great victory but after all those hours we really ended up dead on our feet.