Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Review of the First Training


(Emiliano Lasalvia/La Nacion)

In the wake of David's first tennis practice on Wednesday, 13 weeks to the day after his surgery on May 13th (could it be that someone's being a little superstitious, here?) La Nacion have published an article that includes quotes from David and his team about their impressions after those first twenty minutes of training. A couple of days have past since and I wish I could've posted this earlier. But it's still an interesting read, I think.
I'll chiefly focus on the quotes from this one...

Nalbandian is radiant [after practice] and showing some of the signs of this new phase, like the short hair and the willingness to face the press he has displayed this year. Therefore he starts with joke, coming from the court, sweating as if he had just played five sets. "And? You think you can beat me?" Sure, the difference is so big that the answer the real [= fit] Nalbandian gave to a fan might be the same he could give to the Nalbandian in recovery: "I'll beat you with one hand and without moving from the middle of the court..."

David:
"It's important to return to the tennis court, because that's where you get to see how you are. But my goals still are winning a Grand Slam and the Davis Cup, and not playing for 20 minutes."

"I'm fine. I've been waiting for this day. I wasn't nervous but the guys from my team, they were a little nervous. On court you get to see how the development has been [so far]. Everything went very well. It's only been 20 minutes and it feels good to be sweating again. I want to thank my family and my whole team, who've always been by my side. It's in these difficult times where you struggle because being injured you need to be careful the whole time and they've always been there for me."

[Anxiety?] "Yes, a little bit. But I also knew that it was only 20 minutes and everything was going well. It didn't stop me from wanting to go on court. When I start to move and see how I'm doing other things, it will get more complicated. In two or three weeks when I start to move more on court, there'll be a little fear and I'll really get to see how well I am. For now, everything is fine and that's good, but it's not really anything to go by."

Claudio Galasso:
"Did you see how well he was doing? It's very important to start moving and get an idea of how you feel. He looks good and he's doing well."

Diego Rodriguez:
"He's feeling good, eager, wanting to play, having some doubts but gaining more confidence every day. The tests I just showed him contain objective data about the progress he has been making. He is feeling better, above all he's feeling better than he did before surgery. In everyday life it's ten points. During the next month we will try our best to make him gain confidence on court and go back to training normally again."

Luis Lobo:
"There's still a lot of work to be done."

"Theory is one thing and practice is another. So what we've seen during the rallies was good. He's eager to return, that is very clear. But he's handling the problem of anxiety well because he knows that he won't officially return until January. If he feels good, maybe he'll play an exhibition in December [i.e. Copa Argentina]."

Nalbandian is in permanent contact with his Spanish doctor, Angel Ruiz-Cotorro. In addition, Rodriguez sends him weekly reports. Around the 20th of next month, Nalbandian will travel to Barcelona for a week of practice there under the supervision of the physician, the man behind the recovery plan that, beginning directly after the operation, looks like this : 1st month - maximum care and protection, 2nd month - mobility, 3rd month - strengthening, 4th month - dynamics and transition to tennis, 5th and 6th month - increasing training intensity. Nalbandian will have physical workouts at 90 percent and tennis training sessions at 100 percent. Because of the surgery, he will have to be careful with his hip from now on until his retirement.

Update
More photos...






(Emiliano Lasalvia/La Nacion)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

David's First Tennis Practice

Today, David took to the tennis court for the first time since Estoril. He spent about 20 minutes hitting groundstrokes (no serves, no volleys). Very leisurely at first, then with a little more intensity towards the end. And definitely not completely static as he suggested in his interviews...

The Fue Buena blog organized a live stream of David's training session. And not only that, there's also a recording of it for those who couldn't watch it live:




After the finishing his training, a happy and relaxed David answered the questions of the assembled press. Though it's virtually impossible to understand anything he says because of the poor quality of the clip:



Looks like there will soon be more interviews. (I won't have much time until the weekend... We'll see.)


Update
The first quotes from David's post-practice interview are in (from Telam).
He was training with Luis Lobo at the Vilas Racquet Club.
Everything went well and he didn't feel any discomfort.
The "idea is to come back at the Australian Open". But if he can, he'd like to play earlier than that, for example at the Copa Argentina. Though he can't really say now if that will be possible.
He's aware that he'll need to be in really good shape for the Australian Open because of the heat and the best-of-five format.
As long as he doesn't feel any pain, he'll spend ten minutes more on court every week. And if all goes well, he expects to be "moving on court" in three weeks, and doing full training in six.

Comeback in Australia - but where?


(EFE)

Yesterday, David appeared at a press conference in Buenos Aires for the launch of "El partido más importante", the latest project of his foundation. (More photos from that event to follow, courtesy of Tamar.) At that press conference, he not only talked about the work of his foundation but also about his plans for his comeback. Or rather, the current state of those:
"Australia will be where the official comeback will take place because we believe that I won't be able to play anything this year. I don't think I'll be able to return at the Copa Argentina, that will be very difficult, but everything will depend on how I am by then. It would be a wonderful opportunity to get a first test at that tournament." (source: La Nacion)

As far as I know, this is the first time he has mentioned the Copa Argentina as possible opportunity, even if only a very vague one. Though here on Vamos David we have speculated about it before as an ideal testing ground. Of course, and as David says, it will have to depend on how fit he is in December. But personally, I think it's a good sign that he's now mentioning the Copa Argentina and that he's not dismissing that idea altogether.

But it will definitely be Australia where he'll make his comeback on the Tour. And the big question is - at the Australian Open or at Sydney? Those seem to be the two options. But apparently, David hasn't made that decision yet. At least, that's what this article on his official site suggests. Which would explain why there have been mixed messages about this in his last few interviews. With that article on the official site quoting him as saying that he "may play Sydney", while in the recent Telam interview (also quoted on the official site) he said the plan is to return at the Australian Open. Since then, and also at this latest press conference, his reply to the comeback question has simply been "Australia". Which could of course mean either Sydney or Melbourne. Or in other words, he obviously doesn't really know, himself. Not yet.

For my part, I hope that he will play Sydney and, if possible, also the Copa Argentina. Because I think that returning after what will by then almost exactly be a nine-month pause, and then playing your first match at a Slam in the best-of-five format (and in possibly difficult conditions) would be rather adventurous, to the say the least.

The article from La Nacion (thanks Krystle) I got the quote from ends, mentioning a "demanding test" David was scheduled to undergo yesterday at the Vilas Racquet Club "as a part of the rehabilitation plan". Could this be the final test before taking up his tennis training? In any case, it should start any day now. Let's hope all goes well and that he enjoys it. Even if he can only hit some balls, standing...


Update
A video clip with a short interview (yesterday, probably after the press conference) can be found here on clarin.com.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Radio Interview - Final Part


(La Nacion; close-up version of a pic posted earlier)

I still owe you the rest of the Radio interview from earlier this month (06/08/09). Once again, Tamar (thanks!) made a transcript for me, covering almost the rest of the interview.
We go on right from where we stopped at the end of the last part, the topic still being the Davis Cup and last year's final...
Q: Still, with your analysis of the Davis Cup and those things that went on behind the scenes, you reduce all of that to 'having to walk onto the court and win' because you walked onto the court and you won. But in order to form a Davis Cup team, obviously when you take to the court, everyone has to win, and that goes beyond just walking onto the court and winning. It means talking, getting along with each other, spending time together, until you can push the other [player] on to win a very difficult match because there's a certain understanding within the team, which is also a part [of Davis Cup]. Obviously, when you play the game you have to win.

D: Yeah, I completely agree with you, it's true.

Q1: It's not just walking onto the court and winning, there's more to it than that.

Q2: Do you think you'll fit in with this team that Tito Vázquez has put together -

D: (interrupts) Let's see. I completely agree with you. We always got along well during all the Davis Cup ties - or during almost all the Davis Cup ties. But when things aren't going well, then you have to go out there and give it everything you've got and make sacrifices and be... totally focused on it. Afterwards, you can fix the problem or whatever it is. It's not like we argued for the last five years in a row. It was that one tie, not the whole year. We all spend the entire year together on the circuit, we travel together, train together, we share coaches, physical trainers, hotels... We spend the whole year together and in Davis Cup, during the majority of ties, everything is perfect, everything is fine. And then there are those ties where, for whatever reason, some have differences with others, all kinds of differences. About who wants to play, who wants to play singles, who wants to play doubles. I'm talking about discussions in a good sense, here. [There are] different issues and problems with every Davis Cup tie. When you have four players on a team and one of them is injured, one is in some pain, one is in good shape, one is in bad shape and there's a lot at stake, then there are lots of things to talk about. Things that maybe people don't know about. And the experiences and the way you get along during a Davis Cup tie are different for each and every tie.

Q1: - Says David Nalbandian, analysing last year's Davis Cup final. (...)

Q2: We'd say it's a matter of pride...

D: Absolutely. It's about goals, triumphs, achievements, the personal fulfillment of each player's goals. It is a team but every tennis player wants to win the Davis Cup.

Q: Absolutely. Until which age do you see yourself playing, David? You're 27, Roger's age, right? You were juniors during the same period, and you're not passionate [about tennis] but you're a highly competitive athlete, fair and square. Will we see you play until age 30?

D: Yes, yes. Minimum, minimum. That will be the minimum in case I come back and I feel really good after surgery, if I can play at a good level again, if I can manage that. If I continue to have problems, then that will make things complicated for me, but I think I still easily have another two or three years of playing left.

Q1: Or just look at Schumacher! Right, David?

D: (laughs) We sat down to watch Schumi last weekend and learn a little (laughs).

Q2: We still have to see if he [Schumacher] gets the okay from the doctors... [Note: he didn't.]

Q: As long as you're still recovering, are there things you're not allowed to do? For example taking part in a rally, get into a [rally] car? Do you have to ask yourself - when will they let me do those things again that I enjoy?

D: No, no. Those are thing I could do. What I can't do, obviously, is playing tennis, playing football. I can't run, I can't do any of those sports. But I can get into a car and drive, and take part in a race or whatever. I could do that. I don't do it because believe it or not, I don't have much time. I spend the mornings and the afternoons doing rehabilitation and a little training. So I can't. But theoretically, I'm able to do these things.

Q: But you can have a barbecue?

D: (laughs) If we light the fire slowly, one hour before [starting the barbecue] and then use a small flame, do it all slowly... (laughs)

Q: When Tito Vázquez was appointed [Davis Cup] captain, everybody was surprised, the journalists, the public and also the players. Has that surprise now changed into something else? Among the guys who played the last tie it was said that there was an atmosphere they were excited about, that he (Vázquez) knows a lot, that he went for a new approach with the team. What about you and the captain? What happened before and what's happening now?

D: I still have the same opinion. I've known Tito for ten years. No, a little longer than that, twelve years. Since he once accompanied Coria and myself for some juniors tournaments and after that we lost track of him a little bit. He then went to England, he worked abroad for a while, we didn't get to see anything of him in Argentina. And then the appointment came and it surprised us because we didn't know he had any intentions of returning, that he was here. But well, everything is fine.

Q: You are still with Diego Rodriguez. So what will your team look like? Will you have a coach, what do you think?

D: It [the team] will stay the same. Fitness coaches Claudio Galasso and Claudio Fernando Cao, Diego Rodriguez as my kinesiologist and Lobito [Luis Lobo] as my coach. Everything [stays] the same.

Q: Is Lobito with you at this stage you or did he tell you - when you return, then we'll talk?

D: No, I see him from time to time, as he is with Pico (Monaco), traveling, coming and going, so well, whenever he's here in Argentina... The other day he came to Cordoba, now I'm in Buenos Aires and we see each other whenever he's here. And when I'll start playing tennis again, he'll spend a little more time with me, to be there on the court.

Q: If you had to pick one tournament to play next year...

D: Davis Cup.
- What else...
In the remaining two or three minutes of the interview, amongst lots of laughter, jokes and general chaos, David insists that he has only one girlfriend, that one is all he needs and that it's difficult enough to have a relationship, leading the life of a tennis player. Finally, he explains that he still lives in Unquillo, still in the same house where he used to have to share a room with his brothers Javier and Dario. But now that they have moved out and have their own families, he does have a room for himself... Lucky David. ;)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

David: Differences with Delpo settled, Comeback at the Australian Open


(Photo by Telam; taken from Óle, click to view full size)

Yesterday, the Argentine national news agency Telam published this new article, which was immediately quoted on a variety of Argentine newspaper sites (for example La Nacion, Óle, Clarin and infobae.com). The original article on the Telam website includes a video clip. It's not possible to embed it here but I can only recommend following this link and having a look at the video. In which David - somewhat miraculously - looks much lighter again than he did in recent clips.
Here's the Telam article:
"In ten days I'll play again," Nalbandian told Telam in an exclusive interview that was conducted at the tennis academy of the former player Ines Gorrochategui in the town of Villa Allende, Cordoba.
The tennis player was born in Unquillo 27 years ago and won ten titles on the professional tour, including the 2005 Masters Cup, where he defeated the current world No.1, Roger Federer from Switzerland. Nalbandian said that the recovery is going "very well and even better we thought".
"My recovery is developing according to plan. Even better than that so far I think, and that's great news. I've already spent three months of rehabilitation, doing some physical training and now these things are starting to pay off."
Nalbandian had hip surgery on May 13th because of a labrum tear, a cartilage which is there to reduce the impact of movement of the femur. If damaged, it leads to a wearing-out of the joint and numbness, followed by intense pain in that area.
"It was a very difficult decision to have surgery because I was trying to go on for as long as possible. But I suffered when I played and I couldn't go on like that, so I was left with no other choice," said the tennis player, who reached the No.3 position in the world rankings in March 2006.
Two former No.1 players found themselves at a similar crossroads a few years ago, Gustavo Kuerten and Lleyton Hewitt. Both had surgery but with different results: the Brazilian failed to recover from the surgical intervention and ended up retiring from the circuit, while the Australian returned to competition without any major problems.
Nalbandian talks to Telam and gesticulates, he seems relaxed and self-confident, with the confidence of a tennis player, who, in little over a week, will get his hands on a racquet again.
"At first, I'll have to take small steps. It'll be 20 minutes per day on court and doing very moderate exercises. I'll have to start slowly, only doing tennis movements [hitting only, no running]."
In terms of what will happen in the coming months, Nalbandian reveals that he doesn't want to rush his return to the circuit.
"I don't aspire to compete again in the short term. I don't want to rush anything. The plan is to do things according to schedule and when the time comes, I'll start [playing]. The idea is to start at the Australia Open in January next year."
To recover from surgery, Nalbandian chose the quietness of his hometown in Cordoba. "The truth that right now, my life is very relaxed. I'm back in my province, I am with my friends, in my hometown and no travelling. Hardly a weekend goes by without taking a short break and going fishing."
Asked about his absence from the circuit, his eyes start to shine, a naughty smile appears on his face and he assures us that he "misses the important moments, the decisive matches or final stages of a tournament, those you like to play. "
But he quickly clarifies that "right now, I'm still far from being on court, so I don't really miss it that much. When I'm well enough to play again, I'll be much more eager to return."
Although it's still about five months until he'll officially walk onto a tennis court again, Nalbandian has clear objectives for the comeback. "The goal is to get back inside the Top Ten, maintain that position and try to win a Grand Slam tournament. And obviously, the Davis Cup is a dream, too."
The same Davis Cup that gave Nalbandian a bitter pill to swallow last year when Argentina lost the final against Spain, playing at home, in a tie that revealed some differences with Juan Martin Del Potro, now ranked No.6 in the world.
However, Nalbandian told Telam that "those differences have been settled. Juan Martin and I got together and talked about the things we had to talk about. And now it's all fine. "
To give point to his words, he adds, "with Juan Martin, we have a great team and hopefully we can both find a way to play at our best level to win the Davis Cup for Argentina for the first time in history."


Update
Here's another photo (thanks, tennisace). Looks like this one was taken at the Vilas Racquet Club, where he did those interviews for Clarin and La Nacion.


(Nestor Garcia/Clarin Archive)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Radio Interview - Part II

Here's the second part of David's radio interview with FM Metro 95.1 (06/08/09). Again I can only thank Tamar for not only recording the interview but also providing me with this transcript. The third and final part, however, I'll have to do on my own. I'll post that in form of a summary.
I've taken the liberty of leaving out those bits where the moderators interviewing David talk among themselves and it's not about asking David questions or his replies. There are also some parts where everybody is talking at the same time and it's impossible to make out what's being said. Bits like that are indicated by a "(...)". The different moderators are only indicated where necessary.
So, here's the second part:

Q: Did you stop watching tournaments and forgot about tennis, or did you have a look? Did you follow the Davis Cup tie?

D: No, I do follow tennis. Let's see... Davis Cup, yes. I sit down to watch that and plan my day so I can watch it. But with the other tournaments, I just have a look at those while I'm having lunch, when I'm home or somewhere else and I can watch it. And then the matches of the boys [the other Argentine players], I watch those. And then... the semifinals and finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, those I watched as well, obviously.

Q: How do you see the resurrection of Roger Federer?

D: I think that - and I said that for a couple of years - for me, Roger is the greatest of all time, because of what he achieved, regardless of not having managed to win Roland Garros and not having overtaken Sampras at that time, right? And now, this year, after having won Roland Garros and having overtaken Sampras, I think that there can be no doubt that he is the best in the history [of the sport]. I remember when Sampras was No.1, he was practically unbeatable at the Grand Slams. But at the other tournaments, he lost a lot of matches. At Roland Garros, he'd lose to players who were ranked 50 or 100 in the world. And I don't think Federer ever did something like that. During his best years, Federer lost two or three matches per season and that's really very, very difficult, something that not even Rafa can do. And for me, that put Federer in a place where sooner or later he would overtake Sampras, he would win Roland Garros. And, well, achieve everything that he has now achieved.

Q: Do you talk to Nadal? You get along well with him.

D: Yes, yes. I have a good relationship with him.

Q: The two injured ones, sidelined...

D: Yeah, the two injured ones. But fortunately, he now plays tennis again while I have to keep watching on TV...

Q: But Federer is very lucky because of this, because the only two guys who have defeated him many times are you and him [Nadal], and those are the two injured ones.

D: You mean we're doing him a favour? (laughs)

Q: You've always been special for Federer, eh... Whenever he gets asked what's a difficult match for him he says, 'for example, Nalbandian', doesn't he?

D: Well, but that's because of the history we've had since juniors, throughout our careers. The truth is that I take pride in the fact that a player like him, of his caliber, respects me as an opponent. Because he's a player who knows that walking on court, ready to play, he wins against almost everyone... Against just about everyone there is. And to get that kind of respect [from him] is nice. Another thing is to be, in terms of belonging to the same generation, part of the same group of players like Federer. I think that's good because he's a tennis player of the kind you're not likely to ever see again.

Q: But I had asked you about Rafa... (...)

D: I think Rafa is going through a difficult phase in his private life with his family and because of that it [his injury] affects him a little more. The situation with his knees is precarious, very complicated with the lingering injury. He will continue to have those problems because of his style of play. But right now, I think because of what's happening with his family situation, it must be hard to look ahead, and also that's he's a bit down, emotionally.
(...)

Q: Sometimes, I think that tennis players are like Formula 1 racing cars. Something you get to see when you guys have to go for a pit stop - and by "pit stop" I mean repairing things, having surgery and all that - how everything gets analysed and often enough, decisions are made against your health, the decision to have surgery and to step out of the race.

D: Mhmm... Look, for my part, I had surgery at the worst moment because I'll miss most of the year. I miss three Grand Slams, three Davis Cup ties, I miss a lot of tournaments. I would've liked to have surgery after Wimbledon at the earliest. But I couldn't make it. It was really very bad, it was a time when injury was dragging on more and more, it was troubling me very much and it made me unable to go on. And the truth is that this is why things went wrong on the court. Because the idea is, at least it is for me, that when you go out there to compete, and even though there's the rivalry with your opponent and you want to win every match and every tournament, you do it because you like it, because you enjoy it, because it feels good. And I was going through a time where I couldn't enjoy any of the matches I played, not a single rally, because I was suffering too much. And to face two Grand Slams, with best-of-five matches - that was impossible.

Q: David, will Argentina win the Davis Cup? I know you're not a magician, but...

D: I'm sure of that, yes. I'm sure of that. That's an issue of historical dimensions in Argentina because with the other tournaments always, or almost always there's been some [Argentine] tennis player who won it and the Davis Cup is the one thing we haven't been able to achieve in tennis. There were many years where we came close [to winning it], lots of semifinals, two finals in three years, and we were always very close, always had a good team. And we still have. I don't doubt that we'll make it.

Q: And with you and Juan Martin Del Potro [playing] at a good level, there seems to be a good chance. So, what was said, or talked about, if you'll let us know, during that conversation with Del Potro and Tito Vázquez? Did this meeting happen, or not?

D: No, no. That meeting never happened... I can't say anything about that because it never happened.

Q: But you really stirred up a debate, because when you fired that - I don't remember what the rebuff was, but you fired that statement at Tito Vázquez, "who should stop the crap" or "make the meeting happen once and for all", I don't remember exactly... So when you view that reaction now, from a distance? I'm asking you because those statements generated a lot of noise. After that comes all the criticism, and you're in the middle of a situation that's rather uncomfortable, I guess.

D: Look, do you know what's going on? I'm going to tell you the truth. I don't have to hide anything from anybody, or make things up. So, if they want the meeting to happen, or if they want to get together, talk and if they want us to train together, and they want to do... - whatever. That those things don't just remain to be words but that those plans are put into action, that you do something about it. In order to keep those things from going in circles and nothing more. That's why I said that if there's so much talk about how we should get together then let's get together and that's it. (...) I didn't have any bad intentions, saying that and my point of view really is that if they want to do it, we can do it any day, any time. It depends on the captain and nothing else.

Q: (...) In your eyes, what went wrong against the Czech Republic? It was a difficult tie. But what do you think went wrong?

D: We already knew that the Czech Republic would be a difficult and complicated opponent, that the five matches would be tough. I think the tactic of the boys was that Juan Martin would win his two singles and for Pico to try and win another point, or try winning the doubles. And well... It didn't work. Pico came close to winning on Friday and after that there was not much of a chance. Well, it was a very respectable opponent because of the surface and because of the quality of players they had.

Q1: But David, it's true that there's always some kind of mess among Argentine tennis players, especially in Davis Cup, that's undeniable. One can only look in envy at the Spaniards, how well Nadal gets along with Ferrer...

Q2: Doesn't matter, the triumphs cover up everything...

Q1: Yeah, okay, but Spain doesn't always win the Davis Cup and the United States don't always win the Davis Cup and they have Roddick and the Bryans.

Q2: What you mean is that Argentina would've won if, say, Feliciano [Lopez] hadn't been talking to Verdasco?

Q1: No, well, I don't know, but I look at what happened in the past: Vilas and Clerc didn't talk to each other, Mago [Guillermo] Coria and David got along very well but didn't win... The Davis Cup final last year was a dodgy affair, to speak the truth. We won't try and find a culprit, but it was a mess.

Q2: There was a lot going on behind the scenes, (...) the focus mostly was on where to play, more than on other things, including the sports aspect.

D: And what is your conclusion?

Q1: That you need to get together one day in all seriousness and say "let's stop pretending and all those discussions, we're not friends, that's it, the problem will be solved in terms of cash..."

D: But what do you think happened at Mar Del Plata?

Q1: I watched it from the outside because you know I don't have friends among the tennis players. And I wasn't friends with Luli Mancini, but for me - from the outside - I saw it as the famous cabaret of... - or simply a mess. I saw that there was no connection between you [players], that you didn't show up at the press conference after the doubles, which Calleri had to do by himself, that Del Potro going China wasn't very well received...

Q2: There was a lot going on behind the scenes...

Q1: Yes, it was a mess. But the mess began when Argentina beat Russia. Cordoba, the Bank of Cordoba, no, Mar del Plata, someone says one thing, Del Potro's father says another thing...

Q2: Do you think this is more or less what happened, David? Or do you take a different view?

D: I agree about some things, about others I disagree. It was a mess. It was a mess at the level of the players, of the association [AAT], at the political level, at the level of the country. But where I have to disagree a little is that regardless of any differences you may have with a teammate, in the morning you have to go to work. You [guys] have to be there on the radio, and we have to walk on court and we must win. So you can have thousands of differences with anyone but when it comes to defending the colours of the country, you have to put on the jersey, play and win, because that's what it's all about. (...)
And then afterwards, we can sit, eat, talk, keep on discussing things, sort things out, or not. But you have to go on court and win, and even more so in Argentina, playing a Davis Cup final. For me it is very simple, I see it that way because of the passion I feel for playing for Argentina.

Q: And because you won your rubbers...

D: I make my schedule based on the Davis Cup.

Q2: And you've played Davis Cup, being severely injured.

Q1: Nobody would dispute that...

D: Excuse me, I didn't get that - what?

Q: That you have played severely injured once in a Davis Cup match against Söderling, against Sweden, which [in the end] you paid for by having to have surgery. Nobody disputes that. But what's causing trouble is that you're the point of reference, you're the leader of the pack, regardless of the ranking and Del Potro doesn't matter... What happened at Mar del Plata, watching it from the outside, I couldn't believe it.

D: Me neither.

Q: David, do you think you've done some damage to your relationship with the people? The idolatry will continue, because of winning tournaments, the people like you, you're a [tennis] player and those things you already know. But do you feel that there's some damage, do you sense that there was some mistrust, somewhere between the applause of approval after that [Davis Cup] final, or is your relationship with the people still the same?

D: No, quite the opposite. I think that the people understood how things were, at least from what you heard in the street. I'm not talking about friends of mine here, but people I don't know and all the rest. I think there was a bit more support than before but I always felt the support of the people, the sympathy, the affection, which is truly incredible because, let's face it, people are very focused on success and have great expectations, like everywhere else. But when it comes to showing affection we really are very affectionate in that sense. You have the pros and cons of Argentine society, but apart from that I think that the people were great, especially the way they treated me. I always felt the support. They know what playing for my country means to me, they know what I give for that and for tennis.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

David to Pick up his Racquet again, soon

On Thursday, Argentine radio station "FM Metro 95.1" aired a 30-minute live interview with David (who was on the phone). Tamar recorded the interview and she has transcribed the first few minutes (thank you), which contain some interesting information about David's recovery. You'll find my translation of this part below. More to come from this interview in the next couple of days, either in the form of further transcripts/translations, or a summary.
Here's the first part...
Q: At which stage of the recovery process are you? Must be tedious and bugging you too, right?

D: Well, the truth is that I'm doing very well, following the stages we planned, without rushing anything, taking it easy... Getting a bit eager to start playing tennis. In 20 days I will begin. Obviously with very light [training], step by step. Everything is going very well and easy for now.

Q: And from now on, this is the final stage? In 20 days you'll slowly start hitting the ball, as you've said. And what will you do then? Will you go to some special place, or will the whole recovery take place here [in Buenos Aires]?

D: No, everything here. The only thing I'll do is go to Spain in mid-September for the final examination. At that point I will already be playing again... Bah, training a little harder, with more intensity on the court. So there [in Spain] I will have another important test with the doctor. But basically, it's not very much: the first week I'll play tennis for 20 minutes each day, standing, without moving much, without making any abrupt movements. The second week a little more, playing half an hour, or 40 minutes. The third week about an hour, and so on. Above all, it's about not making movements in the beginning that could be counterproductive for me at this still delicate stage.

Q. And when do you think you'll play an ATP tournament?

D: Next year... Yes, next year. Earlier than that would mean rushing the process and jeopardizing the recovery, the rehabilitation and that's not worth it... Not worth it. I will try to arrive in Australia in good shape, which is the objective, and start the next year in full strength.

Q: - With a Grand Slam. You're completely aware that you'll drop in the ranking. Anyway, that's okay, because it's natural... But do you think about in which [ranking] position roughly you'll find yourself when you return to start playing again? Do you make such calculations? Or does it not bother you, at all?

D: No... Look, when it comes to these things, I'm unlike most of the others on the Tour. There are guys who sleep with their ranking under their pillow but I don't pay any attention to it. Therefore I know that I'll drop [in the ranking], I don't know whether to 40, 60 or 80, but for me that doesn't make that much of a difference because I'll get the protected ranking for eight tournaments, plus wild cards, which will allow me to play some more tournaments. I have the whole year covered and playing all year at a good level, I'll regain a normal ranking by mid-season or by the end of the year, if all goes well and I'm able to do well. So, it is just a question of numbers, nothing more. And that those tournaments I want to play I can finish playing [and not having to retire].

So David will finally start playing tennis again! On August 26th, according to this. And even if he'll start playing without moving - that's great news. :)

Note: some excerpts from this interview have appeared in a recent article on clarin.com. There, they chose to quote from the section of the interview where David talks about the Davis Cup - again. The article also features a poll about whether or not Argentina needs David to be able to win the Davis Cup. 82,6% of those who voted said yes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

David: "As long as I'm healthy, I'll keep playing."

Here's another brief interview with David, this time from El Cronista (thanks, Tamar). Apart from the usual Davis Cup questions, David talks about his future, also after retiring, Federer, his favourite sports and matches that continue to haunt him...
Q: Taking into account that the recovery will take a while, how long will you be playing tennis?

David: My plan always was to compete at least till I'm 30, although sometimes that's something that doesn't just depend on the decisions I make. Now that I'm 27, I still think the same: as long as I'm healthy, I'll keep playing. After my retirement, my plan is to stay connected to tennis.

Q: What was the most frustrating moment of your career?

David: Without a doubt, losing the Davis Cup final at Mar del Plata was the most painful moment. It was an excellent opportunity and we let it slip through our fingers.

Q: In terms of the future, what will be your priority, winning a Grand Slam or the Davis Cup?

David: My priority always was the Davis Cup and remains to be just that. Therefore I plan my schedule in a way that will allow me to represent Argentina in that competition.

Q: Don't you think that the public would recognize you even more if you won a Grand Slam?

David: People value what I have achieved, regardless of whether or not I won a Grand Slam. Over the past seven years I managed to stay inside the Top Ten and that shows that I was able maintain my level for a long time. However, winning a Grand Slam is something I still have to do.

Detailing the order of his preferences, Nalbandian said that "after tennis, my favourite sport is golf, even ahead football and motorsport." He added that Roger Federer "is the best tennis player in history", that he feels "proud" to be the Swiss player's contemporary and to have defeated him eight times.

Q: Which match would you like to play again in order to avenge what happened?

David: The Wimbledon final I lost against Lleyton Hewitt. And also the hypothetical fifth rubber I would've played against Feliciano Lopez in the Davis Cup final. For me, those are things that are difficult to shake off.

Update - new video clip

Tamar has sent me a link to a new video clip from "Todas Noticias". I tried embedding it here but that won't work (this is just an image I've captured from the video). So in order to view it, you have to follow this link. If the clip doesn't appear straight away, scroll down the list of videos on the right hand side of the page until you get to "Nalbandian se recupera". That's the one.

In the clip, David says he's feeling relaxed, he's looking forward to taking up his tennis training and that he hasn't lost too much muscle mass on his legs. He talks about his non-tennis exercise program in the pool and at the gym, he says there's a lot at stake for him so it's important that he sticks to schedule with its different steps. He thinks he'll have at least three more years of playing at the highest level and competing in Davis Cup. He says he did well, playing with the pain for two years and "on one leg" at some of the tournaments he played during that period. Still, he's sure he'll be able to play better without the pain and this is why he's feeling relaxed.

- Nothing really new in terms of the interview.
So we can discuss what he looks like in that clip... ;)