Sunday, August 31, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here? - David's Season 2008

After David's titles at Madrid and Paris last year, hopes were high for this season. But by now, it's safe to say that he hasn't lived up to the expectations raised by those victories...

A brief review.
The year started with David having to withdraw from the Kooyong exhibition tournament, due to "back spasms" that occurred during a practice session.
At the Australian Open, he posted two relatively easy wins before losing to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the third round (1-6, 2-6, 3-6). It was the first in what was to become a series of utterly lacklustre perfomances this year. When asked about it afterwards, David replied that it was "no big deal".
After a one-match appearance (and an easy win over a lowly-ranked opponent) for the Argentine Davis Cup team's first round tie against Great Britain, David won his only title of the season at Buenos Aires. On the way to which he survived three extremely close three-set matches, during two of which he came back from one set down and won the second in a tiebreaker. - That was the moment I thought he might regain his Madrid/Paris momentum.
David next played Acapulco and again reached the final, but there he lost to Nicolas Almagro in straight sets (1-6, 6-7). But he still played some very good and convincing matches against clay courters like Horna and Starace. All of that despite saying he was tired and didn't feel well.
Then came Indian Wells, where he won two very tight and emotional matches (against Gulbis and Stepanek), before he took out Ferrero in what was certainly one of his best matches this year. In the quarter final however, he lost to Mardy Fish in a third set tiebreaker. But he was still playing well, I thought. He was still fighting.
About his first round loss to Xavier Malisse at Miami I can't really say anything because I wasn't abe to watch it. But given the fact that Malisse doesn't seem to have won basically any other match this year, it must have been a poor performance, indeed.
After that, David played in the Davis Cup quarter final against Sweden, winning both of his singles matches against Johansson and Söderling. I was fortunate enough to watch the end of the Söderling match, where David came back from a break down in the fifth set (which he eventually won 9-7). I have seen other matches where David came back from two sets down. But this was the only one this year where the odds were truly against him - but still he fought. And won.
The it was time for the clay court swing. At Monte Carlo, he played two fantastic matches before going down to Federer in three sets. After a magnificent first set, David had simply spent all of his energy and couldn't keep up with Federer anymore (score: 7-5, 2-6, 2-6). Back then, I thought he hadn't fully recovered from his Davis Cup duties.
Then Barcelona, where he lost to his nemesis Wawrinka in the second round and in straight sets. I can't tell how much of an effort he put in, because I didn't see it.
At Rome, he lost to Almagro again. This match I did see. Just as in Acapulco, David couldn't seem to handle Almagro's serve. But there were no signs of injuries, fatigue etc.
Roland Garros. What can I say. He had no problems with Berlocq in round 1. No long fight, not too much energy spent, one might suppose. But then came the match against Jeremy Chardy. Where after winning the first two sets fairly easily - David basically stopped playing. I think that was when the talk of his groin injury started. Still, I saw that match. And he didn't call the trainer. Nor did he show any outward signs of frustration, anger or disappointment. He basically just folded. Quietly.
After his usual stint at the Boodles Challenge, David then played Queen's Club for the first time in his career. There, he posted wins over Troicki, Mahut and Gasquet (as always), before he got annihilated by Djokovic in the semi. David held his first serve game, and then didn't win another game for the remainder of the match. Watching this one, I was (again) struck by the complete absence of any signs of emotions from David.
Wimbledon. I can only say that I preferred NOT to watch the match against Dancevic later on demand. I can only quote others saying that once again, he didn't seem to put up a fight.
After that, David took some time off to get treatment because of his injury. Reports on the progress he was making varied. One day, I read he was feeling better. The next, he was considering surgery and taking several months off. - Which didn't happen, in the end.
Beijing Olympics. Two wins and then the first Monfils debacle. This time, there was no talk afterwards of having been in pain or tired, David himself confirmed that there were no physical problems. He just played one bad match. A tactically bad match. And also one where I would've expected more emotions, considering the fact that he has always named an Olympic medal as one of his major goals.
And then finally the US Open...

I guess, what I find really disturbing is not only how poorly he has performed at the Slams this season (AO round 3, RG round 2, Wimby round 1, USO round 3). It's the way he lost many of the matches I've seen him lose this year. I always used to think that anything was possible with him, even when he was one or even two sets down. I always believed in his fighting spirit. And also in his intelligence on court. But there have been far too many matches this season that have put my faith to a serious test.

Speaking of serious tests - next up for David is the Davis Cup semifinal against Russia. Then it's time for the indoor swing. And if I think of the 1000 ranking points he has to defend at Madrid and Paris... I'm scared, frankly.

There's a thread about the same questions and problems on MTF:
What we do think of this year?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bye Bye New York

And David goes down to Gael Monfils 6-3 6-4 6-2 in 139 minutes.

Friday, August 29, 2008

US Open Third Round

David plays Gael Monfils of France in the third round tomorrow, this time in the Armstrong Stadium and probably in the mid-afternoon. Gael defeated David 6-4 6-4 in their last match at Beijing (R16) and is currently ranked #33.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

US Open Second Round Photos

Match Stats...
First Serve: 52%
Aces: 5
Double Faults: 2
Winners: 23
Unforced Errors: 14
Break Point Conversion: 6/9
Net Points Won: 9/11

US Open Second Round

David plays Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan in the second round today, again on Court 11 in the mid-afternoon. Andrey is currently ranked at #161 and has won a Challenger title this year.
And David wins this match comfortably 6-2 6-4 6-2 in 1h58. Well done.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

US Open First Round

David plays Marcos Daniel of Brazil in the first round today, on Court 11 and probably in the mid-afternoon. Marcos is currently ranked at #81 and has won a Challenger title this year.
And David wins this match comfortably 6-1 6-2 6-4 in 99 mins. Nice start.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

US Open Draw

The US Open draw is out and David finds himself opposite Nadal in the top quarter. This is the first grand slam in a long time that doesn't have Federer heading that quarter. This time, Federer would face #3 Djokovic should both reach the semis. Ferrer is placed in the second quarter at #4 rank.

Rising Argentinian star Juan Martin del Potro finds himself in Ferrer's quarter with a first round match against fellow Argentine Guillermo Canas.

Should David proceed to the second round he might face his Australian Open conqueror Juan Carlos Ferrero. On the third round he could face his recent conqueror Gael Monfils. David put lack of match practice - or “lack of steady pace” - down as the reason for that defeat so let's hope that the Olympics experience has at least helped with that and given him some confidence coming into this tournament.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bye bye Beijing...

Gael Monfils has ended David's Olympic dream today, defeating him 6-4, 6-4 in their third round match.

On a rather sparsely attended Centre Court, David dropped his very first service game but managed to break back, levelling the score at 2-2. However, when he served at 3-3, two untimely errors in a row (both with the forehand) meant another break for Monfils. To which David responded by smashing his racquet on the ground... But this time, he couldn't get the break back and Monfils took the first set 6-4.

The second set saw a couple of great rallies. David now came to the net more often, trying to keep points short. There were no breaks until 4-4. Then it was David's turn to serve. At 30-30, he went for a high-risk backhand, which landed wide and gave Monfils a break point. At that moment, David tried to play serve & volley, but Monfils saw it coming... Which earned him another break and the chance to serve out the match. And he did, though he started with 0-30, but then followed it up with a series of great serves, David just couldn't get his hands on...

Overall, David played a good match. His groundstrokes were there - but his serve was not. (See statistics below.) And as the match went on, he grew more and more frustrated because of it.
In the end, just a few poor points cost him the match.
Not that it will make this loss any easier for him...

1st Serves: 44%
Aces: 0
Double Faults: 5
1st Serves Won 72%
2nd Serves Won 49%
Break Point Conversion: 1/4
Winners: 16 (5 forehand, 11 backhand)
Volley Winners: 7
UEs: 39

More photos:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Round 2: David beats Massu 7-6(0), 6-1

Today, David won his second singles match in Beijing (after crashing out in doubles with Guillermo Canas in the first round). By now, he's the only Argentine left in the draw.
David took out Nicolas Massu, who won the Olympic singles title four years ago in Athens.
At 5-4, David served for the first set but got broken to level the score at 5-5. The set eventually went to a tiebreaker which David dominated completely, winning it 7-0.
After that, he was in control of the match, served better, and won the second set easily 6-1.

David's next opponent is Gael Monfils (Wednesday, fourth match on Centre Court).

Photos from the match against Massu:

Monday, August 11, 2008

First Round Photos

It's a start ...

David has comfortably defeated ZENG Shaoxuan of China, 6-2 6-1.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Beijing 2008 - The Draws

The draws for the Olympic Tennis Event are out.

David is in the bottom, i.e. Rafa's half.
Which looks like this:

[7] David Nalbandian (ARG) vs. Shaoxuan Zeng (CHN)*
Nicolas Massu (CHI) vs. Steve Darcis (BEL)
Simone Bolelli (ITA) vs. Victor Hanescu (ROM)
Gael Monfils (FRA) vs. [11] Nicolas Almagro (ESP)

[13] Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) vs. Jiri Vanek (CZE)
Jankko Nieminen (FIN) vs. Thomas Johansson (SWE)
Rainer Schüttler (GER) vs. Kei Nishikori (JPN)
Robby Ginepri (USA) vs. [3] Novak Djokovic (SRB)

[6] Andy Murray (GBR) vs. Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE)
Agustin Calleri (ARG) vs. Ivan Ljubicic (CRO)
Marcos Daniel (BRA) vs. Jürgen Melzer (AUT)
Frank Dancevic (CAN) vs. [9] Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)

[16] Radek Stepanek (CZE) vs. Michael Llodra (FRA)
Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Igor Andreev (RUS)
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) vs. Jonas Björkman (SWE)
Potito Starace (ITA) vs. [2] Rafael Nadal (ESP)

*Zeng is #598 in the world.

Again, David (together with Guillermo Canas) is in the bottom half:

[8] Andreev/Davydenko (RUS) vs. Blake/Querrey (USA)
Nalbandian/Canas (ARG) vs. Darcis/Rochus (BEL)
Murray/Murray (GBR) vs. Nestor/Niemeyer (CAN)
Clement/Llodra (FRA) vs [3] Erlich/Ram (ISR)

[5] Almagro/Ferrer (ESP) vs. Anderson/Coetzee (RSA)
Aspelin/Johansson (SWE) vs. Hanley/Kerr (AUS)
Fyrstenberg/Matkowski (POL) vs. Yu/Zeng (CHN)
Damm/Vizner (CZE) vs. [2] Djokovic/Zimonjic (SRB)

The complete draws can be found here:


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

David arrives at Beijing

Good news - a tired but otherwise still very determined David has safely arrived at Beijing...

(Agustin Calleri, David & Juan Monaco)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

David due to leave for Beijing

From the official site:
Bye Buenos Aires, Hello Beijing
The AAT (Argentine Association of Tennis) will say goodbye, on Thursday, to the tennis players who will represent Argentina in tennis in the next Olympic Games in Beijing 2008. The national delegation and the captains will hold a press conference in the Salon de los Jardines of the Hotel Panamericano, at 12 o’clock. The national team is made up by the tennis players Gisela Dulko and Betina Jozami; and David Nalbandian, Juan Monaco, Guillermo Cañas and Agustin Calleri. Ricardo Rivera (captain of the women’s team and head of the delegation), Alberto Mancini (captain of the men’s team) and Diego Rivas (kinesiologist) will travel together with the players. The tennis Argentine team is scheduled to leave on Monday 4th August, after training on July 31st and August 1st.