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