Monday, June 22, 2009

The TV Interview - Last Part

So here it is, the third and final part. This time, only one sentence is missing (to be added later). Once again, I'd like to thank Tamar. Not only for letting me use her transcript but also for lending a hand with the translation. Thank you. :)

In this final part, David talks about a variety of things. And it's all not quite as serious as it was in the second part...

Q: Do you find it boring, does it maybe feel strange to move from one locker room to the next and always, all the time you get to see the same faces?
David: ...We're a travelling circus. (laughs) We change circuses but the clowns stay the same. (laughs) It's a question of getting used to it, but it's tough because we see these faces all year round, everywhere in the world and it's unbelievable. At the same time it's good because in every city you start to have your restaurant, your hotel that you like... It's really amazing how each player adapts to the city where he's staying.
The place where we stayed in Paris was super-small, where the people from IMG stayed, where Rafa stayed, and Moya, and where I stayed... We were all there. In a hotel that's totally super-modest, tiny, well-located, close to the Champs Elysées. But it's unbelievable how you adjust to the different cities and how you get used to it.

Q: Would you change anything about the game, about the rules? For example, having your coach on court, would that be helpful for you?
David: With me in particular it wouldn't help much. (laughs) It's different for everyone. There are players who know exactly what they're doing well and what they're doing badly in that situation. Others know it and need confirmation. And there are some who don't realize it, not even if someone from outside tells them... This is something very personal. On the one hand I think it's a good idea because at the end of a set you can talk to your coach for a minute, he can help you change the course of match, help you turn it around. Whenever it's raining, you go back to the locker room and you spend 5, 10, 15 minutes or two hours talking [to your coach], depending on how long it rains. And then you get back on court and it doesn't always help you... You can't always implement the tactics you've planned. But on the other hand, in the history of tennis, there has never been something like that. Although with this thing about the coach [being on court], I see more positive than negative aspects. Instead, changes should be made to the calendar, because it's a total massacre. It cannot be that right now, everybody is injured and that by the time you retire from tennis your body is completely destroyed. Sport is about health, one hundred percent. But if competitive sport is total destruction, then in that sense it raises a lot of issues. But behind it there's a business. The ATP, television, the tournament directors, a very, very well-armed circle so it's impossible to cut it down.

Q: Do you agree with the amounts of prize money, with men and women receiving the same amount at some tournaments, for example at the Grand Slams?
David: If you deserve it, I don't see any problem. The problem is that we have to play five sets and end up dead on our feet. I don't watch a lot of women's tennis, because there's a big difference between men's and women's tennis. For example, I used to like to watching Hingis, Justine Henin and I like watching Schiavone, an Italian player. I don't like watching the Williams sisters, for example, because they play very physical tennis, with power. I like players who play well, tactically, who hit a shot in order to set up their next shot. I don't remember the era of Sabatini or Arantxa Sanchez. But even with the men, when you see a guy who just bashes the ball, and bashes, and keeps bashing it for two hours, that's not fun to watch, either because it makes you want to say - go for something else, try something different in the rally...

Q: Nor do they win many tournaments...
David: But it's very difficult. It happens to me, too. I'm a player who takes risks but I don't hit the ball very hard. You have a good day, a bad day, three good days, one bad day. It's very tough to play taking risks all the time, all week, all year.

Q: How many times during a normal match do you put the ball where you really want it? For example, when you hit a shot down the line.
David: You always direct your shots at a sector. When you're hitting down the line, if you're lucky you make one of those shots out of ten. We're talking about a margin for error of 2cm, 5cm, here. Our usual margin for error is one metre, half a metre. Within that half metre, eighty percent of the balls will land. You're always trying to hit a certain zone. For example, with the service box you have a zone of one meter and eighty percent of the balls go there. (...)

Q: In sports, they don't forgive you for the smallest of errors. Artists and musicians for example use substances but for athletes it's completely impossible.
David: I'm very much against the current anti-doping system, to me it's a violation [of privacy]. There are people who say that if you're not available [for testing] for three days, you can "clean up" things you've been taking. The truth, like I've recently said, is that I'm not aware that you can clean up doping in three days.

Q: Has it ever happened to you that you couldn't believe the physical stamina any of your opponents had?
David: No, no. For example, Rafa, who was initially much talked and rumoured about in this context, if you know him you realize that this guy has breakfast at 6 in the morning with the same intensity he has at 2.30 in the night, playing Playstation games, and then he sleeps for three hours. He just lives at a high speed. And I'd say to you... (grabs his head) That's incredible. It's more than that. I'd give him a sedative instead of something to make him run even more. (laughs) With Rafa, you have someone who never sleeps. He's great, a good guy, we've always had a fantastic relationship. I've shared many things with him because when he started playing, my manager was his manager and we share the same physician, as well... We've become well acquainted.

Q: Is it hard for you to leave that relationship outside the court, when you're playing against Rafa, for example?
David: To be the No.1 at this level, you have to get the friendship out of your head and say, tomorrow I want to be here again [playing the next round] and so I want to win, whether I play well or play badly, whether it's against a friend or an enemy, whoever it is I'm going to face. You have to win in order to survive, because tennis is for winners. Although it's also a sport for losers because everybody loses and only one player wins in the end. The only one you remember afterwards is the one who won.

Q:: David, are you afraid you might not be able to play tennis as well again as before surgery?
David: No. No, because I played that way [with the injury] for one and a half years, almost two years, including Davis Cup. It's not going to be worse than the way it was. But playing on one leg I was still pretty good. (laughs) It happens to us [players] when we go on a holiday for 20 days. During the first week of training, you can't get a ball inside the whole club. And after that you hit the ball normally.

Q: If you could choose, who would you like to be in another life: Manu Ginobili [Argentine basketball idol], Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, or Sébastien Loeb [French rallye driver, multiple world champion]?
David: (laughs) They're all stars. That depends on the point of view. I think that Federer's whole life is much more dedicated [to his sport] than Loeb's although it's much less dangerous. The training is different, your way of spending the weeks of the year is different. I always say that different sports are impossible to compare because one is in the water, one is in the air, one [person] plays tennis and another one plays football. It's impossible to compare them. I like Loeb... So, I might like being Tiger. Federer because it's the sport I play myself, for the titles he has, for the records he's breaking and will continue to break. And because for me, he's the best in the history of tennis, without any doubt.

Q: Do you have three or four people you would like to thank for your career?
David: My family. The family is always important and it's even more important for a sporting career that starts when you're still young. It's always important I think, beyond winning or losing, when you need advice and to say, 'yes, do it that way'. Don't forget that at only twelve years of age, you're travelling around the world by yourself. And don't forget that when you return, regardless of whether you've won or lost, whether you've done well or poorly, there's always your family. And there are many decisions that your parents have to make for you. If you have your parents, or there's a family that misses him [the young player] a little, it conditions the boy for the years to come, there's no doubt about it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The TV Interview - Part II

This part wasn't easy to translate. Most of all because my Spanish expert/proofreader I usually rely on is currently on a holiday. But I didn't want to keep you waiting any longer. So I've decided to leave out four sentences I had my problems with. They're indicated by a "(...)" and I hope to insert them, later.
[Note: three out of four added by now and some small corrections made.]

So, here's the second part. It kicks off with David talking about last year's Davis Cup final...

I will tell you the same, whether today or in two years... There are no words for it, that's clear... To play home ties all year, to have the chance. It's unlikely that we'll get another year like that, particularly playing four ties at home. From the start we knew that playing Spain at home was the worst that could happen to us, because our strength lay in playing on clay. So the tie was moved away from where we would've normally played it and where it would've been held traditionally [Parque Roca]. It would've been nice if Rafa could have come, I would've liked that. You're bound to be nervous and feel anxiety, being in the Davis Cup final, no matter whether you play against the No.1, No.2, No.7, or No.10 [of the world]. But that's my opinion... Juan Martín wasn't there either, he arrived much later. About the court, during the first days we couldn't find the speed we really wanted because there was still construction work going on inside the stadium, and the court was covered in dust and so [because of the dust] the surface was faster than it really was. Apart from all that, the tie was lost during the weekend. I did well to win my point and Juan Martin was up a set... It wasn't one single point, it wasn't that volley [I missed] in the doubles. I think that a lot of things have been analysed badly because if we're up 2-0, we're not going to loose the doubles. If we're at 1-1 and I miss that volley, still we wouldn't have won the tie.
There are many things that happened during that match. They break me at 5-5 in the first or in the third set, helped by our own errors and we lose the set. We went down 4-0 in the third, we then go on to lead 6-2 in the tiebreak [5-1, actually; then lost the next six points]. And it was all very strange because with Juan Martin having lost on Friday, we still have our chance of winning the doubles. I mean, the doubles match was even, it was even. That's why I say that it wasn't just that one volley... If we had won the first set, if I had held my serve at 5-5, they have to hold serve at 5-6 and then we play a tiebreak, where you can win or lose. It's not just one point. There were several critical moments during that tie. Juan Martin was up a set and those two tiebreaks he lost where he was leading, 4-2 in one of them and the other I don't remember. Had he won that tiebreak and led by two sets, it would've been a different story.

Winning the Davis Cup tomorrow would not make up for the 2008 final. Those would be two very parallel but still separate things. That would be the second... not the first.

Q: Do you understand today why the final wasn't held in Cordoba?
David: I know why. I know that today and I knew it when the final went to Mar del Plata. But those are things that happen and you can't do anything to change it. You're outside of politics, so you can't do anything.

Q: I'm asking you this because I think that [Argentine] tennis grows because of you players and not because of the structures behind it [i.e. AAT], that kind of thing...
David: It's complicated. If you look at the statements that Rafa made three weeks earlier, he was cursing [about the altitude] all week in Madrid. If you take Cordoba, it's like Madrid. Maybe 75 metres more, 75 metres less altitude but it's about the same. Then the idea also was that I feel comfortable here because I was born here, because I like playing indoors, because I play well and I've shown it indoors. When I asked Juan Martin about it, he asked me what it's like, playing here. And I told him, it's very similar to Madrid, it's about the same altitude, it's very much like Madrid. And he said, ah good, okay then. I mean, it wouldn't have been too high because I wouldn't have liked that, either. At 1000 meters altitude, you have no control [of the ball], it's madness. It's just that when you take a bit of control away from Rafa then it's better for us. So that was the idea of why to play here, because in terms of the sport, we thought the idea was one hundred percent convincing.

Q: What place do you think you'll have in history when time passes and when you no longer play tennis? Some say that you're a player without the ranking to match, being No.15 or No.20 of the world. That you play at the same level with the best.
David: That... is very difficult to know. But I would like to be remembered as the great point of reference of Argentine tennis for a period of time. I think do, I've done and I will continue to do a lot for the flag, the colours and I've been doing it ever since I was 20... Since I was a junior, since I was twelve. I think feeling this way, you're either born for it or you're not, it's very difficult to pratice. And particularly when it comes to Davis Cup. Because playing a tournament or something, you can win or lose but to be... When you're representing the colours, that's where you really see the player. You really get to see it when the chips are down. And playing a semifinal at Roland Garros is not the same as playing a Davis Cup semifinal in front of a full stadium... It's something different. In Davis Cup you drop your pants [i.e. are naked] and that doesn't happen to you anywhere else. That's really where you get to see what kind of players you have or don't have on the team. And I think that because of my record and my history in Davis Cup, I have an important place in the history of Argentine tennis.

Q: Do you feel that last year was when you got more into politics, had your brush with it? Do you feel that this was when politics grew more important for you? And do you like that, or not?
David: Right now, I'm at a different stage, I don't think about politics. I'm worried about the coutry like every other citizen, living here. I want things to be done the best possible way so that people can live well, live without worries, live with their passions. Travelling, one gets to see where Argentina stands in the world. We're really far behind compared to what happens in other countries. That's why many people go and live abroad, because there's a different support there when it comes to the different things governments offer. I think we're very far behind in this. Anywhere in Europe you see the difference, there it is normal... (...) So maybe it makes you say, what a shame that we can't be more like that.

Q: So, you win a tournament and it could be the solution for all the problems a friend of you has. Do you help out friends who ask you for it?
David: You get asked by friends and by people who are not friends. All kinds of things happen. (laughs). All kinds of things happen. I kind of think that just saying 'take it' to someone is not going to be the solution for anybody's life. For me, it's much more important to provide the opportunity for someone to try their best and give them the chance to have things, rather than say 'take a certain amount of money'. Also for the other person... That is to say, if somebody gives me the opportunity I have to deserve it so it's not like it was a gift As far as I can, I help my family, my friends, my loved ones, I help them as much as I can. But I kind of think that you shouldn't hand out amounts of money to just anybody.

Q: Is it correct to say that the moment of La Legión has already passed?
David: It could be different [from now on]. It is different because during that period we were four inside the Top Ten, almost five... Those are numbers that will be extremely difficult to repeat, very difficult. It doesn't happen in other countries. I think it'll be very difficult to repeat this but who tells you we won't win the Davis Cup, I win a Grand Slam and Juan Martin wins another. Of course, it's difficult to compare. With Juan Martin the only one inside the Top Ten and me being No.5, 10, 15, 20 of the world and the next player ranked No.60, some will say that it was better to have four Top Ten players during that period. Those are two different moments in time, new generations, like Juan Martin's. That generation was also a mixture because there was Gastón [Gaudio], Puerta, Cañas, Calleri, Chela and then Coria and myself, we were the ones from that litter that remained. Then, as the rest of this larger group of players went away, with Guillermo more or less retired, it seems that the sole survivor of that war was me (laughs), though I'm not that well (shows crutches), I'm still out of order. Juan Martin is from the new litter and it would be nice if he wasn't the only one.

Q: I've noticed that Del Potro doesn't lose those matches he shouldn't lose.
David: Juan Martin is not a rookie in this, he has been playing [at this level] for two or three years. Although he's young, he's experienced on the tour, known to the other players and not the other way around... That happens to everybody, unless you're a star like Federer or Nadal, from a different galaxy. But it's also easier, making the first push forward than maintaining that level because when you've done that for three or four more years, everybody knows your strengths and weaknesses, how to play against you, your skills, everything. And then a new phase starts for you. But I think that Juan Martin is experienced enough on the tour to not lose to a guy he shouldn't be losing to and besides, it's good, it's very good.

Q: Do you think Guillermo Coria will play again?
David: It was weird because he wanted to try and come back, he wanted to train. I was always one of those who said that he should return, because he was a quality player. But the more time passed, the more obvious it became that it was going to be increasingly difficult for him. Because the more time you spend away from the court, the more difficult it gets to come back. But I always believed that he could return, maybe not to be the No.3 in the world again, but to be inside the Top 50, because of the quality player that he was. The truth is that I don't know whether he's currently training or not, whether he's finished with tennis or not... But as he couldn't return within three years' time, as he was trying to, it'll be much more complicated to make a comeback, later than that.

Q: Are there times when you feel that you're playing for the money? Or don't you ever feel that way?
David: No, no... Fortunately, I've had a career that has provided well for me and I never have to think that if I don't win this tournament, I won't have enough money to travel the next week. Which is also a reality. It happens to the majority of players. At age 20, I reached the Wimbledon final. My junior career was a very good one but you don't win a cent, you're nothing. You know that you have your plan [becoming a pro] but sooner or later you make a living out of it, you live a life that's one hundred percent work. And then later you do it for the glory and for the history you can make at tournaments.

Q: David, what do you think you're not going to miss when you say goodbye to tennis? For example, in eight years.
David: Travelling. Travelling itself and not being able to enjoy two days off each week. I think it wears you out. Also the planes, the airports, security... Every time you have to take a plane, it's a mess. And having to do that every week of the year, taking planes, it's not at all easy.

Q: Can you imagine being a coach? Conveying to somebody else what tennis was for you?
David: Not right now. It's clear that I don't see myself like that now but what will be in the future, you can never know. Maybe, it could be nice, giving advice to somebody or explain what I've seen, to explain those things to someone. However, I think that travelling would be the bigger problem. Because that's what all ex-players find difficult. All those ex-players who offer coaching - I'm not talking about Argentineans here but about ex-players from all over the world - they'll tell you, 'I'd like to be your coach but I'd rather send you an email and we can exchange emails'. That [travelling] is the most difficult part. But in the future, to spend two hours on a tennis court with somebody, teaching them what I learned, it seems to me that some day I might like that.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Vamos David - one year on

It's exactly one year ago that I launched Vamos David as a fan blog and invited Julia to join me in this endeavour. Since then she has become the principal contributor and driving force behind the blog while I encourage her and provide backup technical support (as well as covering matches when she couldn't).

Congratulations to Julia on a fine job here both writing and translating. As a native German speaker her English is impeccable and I gather that her Spanish translation skills are pretty formidable as well. Well done!

Her photo archives are now helping fans to while away the time until David can play professional tennis again. My own favourite photo is #84 in the Miscellaneous folder. I think David's expression is so like the one in Michelangelo's David. What do you think?

Friday, June 12, 2009

The TV Interview - Part I

On Monday, Argentine sports channel TyC Sports aired a one-hour interview with David, conducted in Villa Allende (Cordoba), where David is doing his rehabilitation. He was interviewed by Gonzalo Bonadeo from TyC Sports, an acclaimed Argentine sports journalist specializing in tennis.
Tamar from the Argentine David fansite "David Nalbandian es un ídolo total" has not only transcribed the entire interview, she has also allowed me to translate her transcript for Vamos David. (Thank you so much!) The interview is very long, so I've decided to post it in several parts. In this first, shorter one, David talks about his operation and rehabilitation...

I felt reassured by all that was done in preparation for the the surgery and by the doctors.

I deal with it. I go and come back but I'm on crutches.

I asked to be asleep during surgery, I didn't feel anything. That's how it is with arthroscopies, you don't feel anything. I told them, make me go to sleep and then wake me up again when I'm back in my room. I don't want to know the rest.

Before this operation, I went to the operating room once, two years ago, because of a blockage in my back. But that had nothing to do with surgery. That was just a pinprick.

When the orderlies come to get you, you think - I'm done. I remember when on the day of the operation we were inside the lift, going down, I asked the orderly, 'there's still a chance that I'll walk out of here, right?' and he told me 'I've seen more people walk out of here than end up in the operating room'. (laughs)

When I woke up again, I wanted to watch the [FC] Barcelona match, they were playing the final of the Copa del Rey [Spanish football cup]. I told everyone to wake me at 9.30pm. I watched that match, still totally sleepy. Because I had surgery from about six to nine in the evening. So I watched pieces of that match. At 9.30pm I was back in my room. I only remember that night from six in the morning onwards, because I was very sleepy, very sedated. So I watched that match feeling very sleepy. I saw the goals... I listened to the goals being scored and it was terribly difficult to open my eyes. My girlfriend was with me during the nights I spent at the hospital. The next day I got up early for breakfast and already felt very much awake again. Angel [Ruiz-Cotorro] came and said to me, 'in the afternoon, we'll start with the bicycle' and they brought the bike to my room. Less than 24 hours after surgery we began with the rehabilitation. None of us expected that I would be able to do a little work so soon. At first, it was a strange feeling because my leg was a little stuck in the beginning. But it only took 30 seconds or a minute until I had accustomed myself to it and after another 20 minutes it was normal. In 20 days, I'm going to have another MRI scan to see if everything is okay. Because there's a one percent chance that the body rejects what has been done to it with the surgery.

Q: You've always liked to go swimming?
As a child I liked to swim. And I used the swimming pool for training purposes. I like it sometimes, when I don't have to spend four hours swimming because that's boring. I do swim a little but I exercise more in the water than I actually swim. Apart from that, if you see my style, swimming without moving a leg, it's very funny. I look like a hapless frog. (laughs) The first day I went into the water, before getting started with the crutches and everything, I felt the hip, it was still inflamed from surgery. Because I went into the water already on the third or fourth day [after surgery]. The first time I came out of it again, it was as if I had taken painkillers, incredible. It was fantastic. As you start walking in the water without crutches, start doing side steps, when you're doing stuff - silly little things, ultimately - you're removing the fear to walk, to get going. Always with the water at breast height so that there's not much pressure [on the hip]. I spend more time walking and doing side steps in the water than actually swimming.

This is only the third week since I've had surgery. It's nothing compared to a process that will take three, four or five months. A week ago I arrived home and I'm really relaxed. It takes between two and a half and three hours to do all the exercises and after that, I'm free. The work can be divided into two parts, or I can do all of it in the morning or in the afternoon, and I can get there by car. For now, everything is fine. Friends, home, family, everything is fine. The problem will be the second or third month when you're not travelling, and you can't train, you can't do anything. I don't think I'll miss taking planes and airports but I'll probably miss playing tournaments. Today, watching Roland Garros makes you say, 'what a pity'. But soon, I'll be watching Wimbledon and it'll make me want to play again. Right now, the truth is that I'm very far from being able to play. I don't want to be on court. And when they tell me that in two and a half months, I'll be on court again, I say, impossible, I can't even walk. If today you say to me 'let's go and play', I'll tell you 'no, I'm going to fall down, I cannot move, I don't want to'. But maybe when I'm feeling a little better and I can get rid of the crutches, then maybe I'll want to but I won't have the okay from my doctors.

More to come...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Photo Archives

We're happy to announce that the Vamos David Photo Archives are now online.
You can access them, using the newly added button in the sidebar.

Navigating the different galleries is easy and pretty much self-explanatory, I think. But should there be any problems, please let us know. The same goes for any questions or suggestions.

Maybe I should add that with the season galleries (for 2008 & 2009), the filenames will indicate at which tournaments the photos were taken.

There's probably more to say but I can't think of anything else right now.
Except... enjoy! :)

And I'd like to thank Arizona again for the intro page and for hosting the files.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Official Site Update

In the last two days, two new articles have appeared on David's official site and both are, surprisingly enough, already available in English. For those who haven't seen them, the first one, released yesterday, announces that David has by now entered the second phase or stage of the rehabilitation process, which will see him doing two shifts of exercises per day "on a bike and in a pool", amongst other things. Apart from that he's now able to drive his own car again, despite having some problems getting in and out of it. And while once more calling the whole process "slow" and his current state "better than expected", David promises not to rush things.

The second article, released today, contains a closer description of the different stages of the rehabilitation process, as described by Diego Rodriguez. According to this system, David has now entered the second stage of the process. He walks with only one crutch now and does intensified work to gradually regain full mobility. Basically laying the foundation for eventually taking up proper training again at some point. Rodriguez too states that the progress David is making is currently exceeding their expectations. But he also stresses the importance of not rushing anything.

- Very good news.
And a little surprising to see the official site so active and up-to-date...