Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Question of Ranking



In some of his latest interviews, David declared that he doesn't care about his ranking. I don't usually care all that much about his ranking, either. After all, it has constantly been high enough for years to always grant him both entrance and a good seeding at all the tournaments he played. And it even remained surprisingly high after David played what was to be his last match this year at Estoril.
But now it has begun, David's slide down the rankings. Very slowly, so far. Still, the question is - how far down will it go and what will the consequences be for David when he returns next year. I'm no real expert when it comes to the intricacies of the ranking system. But here's an attempt at giving you some sort of idea what the next months will bring for David and for us, his fans.

As of this week, David is still ranked #20. Miraculously only one place lower than during the week of Estoril (and having climbed back as high as #14 without playing in the meantime). From the 1715 points he currently has, those for the two last events he played last season will come off before the end of this year. First 350 for reaching the final at Basel, 2008. Those will drop next Monday, which will leave him with 1365 points and see him lose another six to eight places.
The big fall, however, will come the week after that. Because that's when David's 700 points for making the final at last year's Masters in Paris will come off, leaving him with 665. And although this will still be enough to keep him safely inside the Top 100 (probably somewhere around 80-90, I think), it means that he'll start the new season with a ranking so low that he won't really have much of a choice but to rely on getting wildcards or using his protected ranking for making it into the main draw without having to qualify.
- And it might get a lot worse than that. It's impossible to foresee how well David will be able to play at his first tournament in Auckland. But what's clear is that directly after Auckland, the 250 points for David's victory at Sydney this year will come off (415). And that means he could then very easily find himself outside of the Top 100, unless he goes really far at Auckland... The "good news" is that at the Australian Open, David only has 45 points to defend.

David said in his interviews that he'll rely on a combination of wildcards and protected ranking in order to be able to play the tournaments he wants to play and that he has the first half of the season covered that way. But while this at least means that he won't have to qualify for the main draw, it doesn't mean that he'll get seeded. The protected ranking (#15 or #16), which he'll be able to use for eight tournaments next season, merely means that he'll be allowed into the main draw as if he was ranked #15/#16. So: no seeding, no protection from meeting the top players in the early rounds...
I guess we can only hope that he'll get lucky with the draws, especially at the first couple of tournaments. And that, provided his hip is okay, he'll be able to find his form again. Soon.


Announcement:
Vamos David will take a break next week as I'll be in Vienna for the "Bank Austria Tennis Trophy". - A trip I booked when David initially committed to playing that event... But well, I'm still looking forward to it. :)
Krystle will be keeping an eye on the blog while I'm away.

Before I'll leave, here's another video of David's very first training session. A bit outdated by now, I know. But I only just discovered it. And in this clip, you can at least actually see something. I.e. more than in the previous ones.
You can watch it here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

David's Tour Comeback to take place in Auckland

As reported by the news agency AP, for example via Yahoo (thanks Krystle) and stated by tournament director Richard Palmer on the Heineken Open's website, David has received a wildcard for Auckland and will play his first ATP tournament since Estoril this year in New Zealand. (So I heard it correctly in the Fox interview.)
It's not his first appearance at this event, though it's been a while since he chose to play it (back in 2002 and 2003), having preferred the Kooyong exhibition or Sydney to prepare for the Australian Open in recent years.
Now, the tournament director is happy to have him back. “Nalbandian is a quality player who has something special in his game as witnessed by his Grand Slam record of having reached a final and several semifinals,” says Heineken Open tournament director, Richard Palmer. “He’s the sort of player who has the ability to really challenge for the Heineken Open title and get back into the top 10.” (From the tournament website.)

This year, Auckland apparently featured its own live webcast but in the past, a stream has also been available via the betting sites. Let's hope that this will be the case again, next January.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A slightly different Interview with David...

So much for David being too busy for interviews at the moment. But this time, it wasn't one of the sportswriters for Olé or La Nacion he was talking to. This time, David was interviewed for the "mujer", i.e. "woman" section of Clarin. So instead of discussing the usual set of topics, from recovery and ranking to Davis Cup, David had to face some questions about his private life...
And that's why this interview is definitely - different.
(I'd like to thank tennisace for finding this one. As I certainly wouldn't have discovered it myself. Not in the "woman" section...)

David Nalbandian
by Carola Birgin

David swam three thousand metres today. He also trained on court for a couple of hours. He rigorously carried out his workout routine. He's tired. He keeps repeating that almost like a mantra. It's a state (of body and soul) he knows by heart. It came into his life early on, to stay until today. Pushing his physical limits has been a part of his daily life ever since he was 8 years old. "You learn to live with this feeling that you can't give any more. It can be okay for a couple of days but then, well, the fatigue starts mounting up and it turns into a constant state," Nalbandian says without complaining. At the same time, he's currently sidelined. In May he had surgery for a hip injury that wouldn't allow him to go on playing. With the same discipline which saw him climb to #14 in the ranking [apparently, he was ranked 14 at the time of the interview], he now approaches his rehabilitation: meticulous, without skipping any steps or rushing the process. And now there is a date for his return, in December, in San Juan. An exhibition event where he'll play alongside Gaston Gaudio, Guillermo Cañas and Nicolas Massu. He says that he's relaxed, waiting for it. "When I feel one hundred percent recovered, I'll start being nervous but not right now."
At the moment, his life is very different from what it's usually like. He doesn't travel. He doesn't play matches. He only trains (very hard as usual, of course), sees his doctors and dedicates himself a little more to his private life. If there's something like a scarce commodity among the incalculable fortune of David Nalbandian, then it's time.

Q: What has changed the most for you in these months of rehabilitation?

David: Having time.

Q: Time for what?

David: To do things without being in a rush. To visit my cousins, uncles or friends more often and not have to do it, being in a hurry. And to spend more time on my foundation (www.fundacionnalbandian.org.ar), taking a closer look at our projects, which are primarily about the integration of disabled persons in sports. Apart from that, having time has helped me seeing what's the reality in this country a little more. In the maelstrom [of the Tour] you lose your sense of dimension.

Q: Are you interested in politics?

David: I care because it's about the good of the people. But not much beyond that. I try to stay informed, I read. It's the country we live in and it's the country I represent it when I play abroad.

Q: While you're "on stand-by", have you tried not doing anything?

David: No, I try to make good use of the time I have. I'm not one for doing nothing. Sometimes, I go to the local bar with some friends for a drink. That's as much entertainment as I get.

Q: You've got your headquarter in Unquillo, right?

David: Exactly.

Q: And you still live with your mom?

David: Exactly.

Q: Why haven't you moved out yet?

David: I have no reason to leave, living with her is perfect for me. We always eat together, she's an incredibly good cook. My father died in 2004 and I didn't get to spend much time with him. I'll spend time with my mom for as long as I have the chance.

Q: Do your brothers live with her as well?

David: No. They were nudged into moving out.

Q: Do you think you're safe from being nudged by Victoria (Bosch, his partner)?

David: We've been together for eleven years and so far it's going well.

David: She accepts that without any complaints?

David: Yes, Vicky is a phenomenon. We have a very good relationship and we've had it for ages. Imagine that we started being together when I was 16 and she 19. I've told her before, not until you learn to cook as well as my mom - she doesn't want to learn!

Q: You're 27, don't you feel tempted to at least go and live alone?

David: Not at all, because I spend so much time alone. When I travel, I'm alone. When I'm home, I want to be around my family.

Q: Do you do something for your looks?

David: No, I'm a mess, it's a challenge.

Q: Who challenges you and why?

David: My girlfriend challenges me. Because my face is always red, my skin is always dry. I never use skin cream.

Q: Does she tell you what she thinks about your career?

David: No, luckily, she doesn't care. And I wouldn't let her. She is a pharmacist and doesn't know anything about tennis. And I don't tell her what I think about what she does.

Q: What do you do together?

David: We go out for something to eat, to the movies. Well, sometimes I fall asleep during the movie. A little mishap. I'm always tired.

Q: It sounds very interesting to have a boyfriend like that who's always tired.

David: You wouldn't believe it... We do lots of things. We go out all the time.

Q: Do you like buying things?

David: Sometimes. But I don't have the time to use all the things that I buy - it's a disaster! And I think it's boring to walk around for two hundred hours without buying anything, the way women do it. What I really like are watches.

Q: Time!

David: Yes, you see, I buy several and I use them. I also love cars, I have a couple of fun ones.

Q: Do you share them?

David: My mom uses them.

Q: What about your girlfriend?

David. No, she doesn't.

Q: Why is there a difference?

David: My mom is of the same blood as I am. No, I'm not joking. I'll offer it, but my girlfriend doesn't dare to accept.

Q: Do you believe in marriage?

David: Why? We are in the 21st century.

Q: Can you imagine starting a family?

David: Yeah, sure, but not yet. I don't want to be missing my children while I'm away playing tournaments or for that to distract me from my career. Some [players] do it and it works for them. I don't want that.

Q: Tennis players are famous for being metrosexuals [I guess what she means is sex symbols], how do you deal with being besieged by groupies?

David: I deal with that very quietly. I'm in my village, far away from the rest of the world.

Q: Does having female fans flatter you?

David: On the street, there are ladies and even guys, who'll see me and say nice things to me and that is satisfying for me. They make you see that you have achieved more than just winning matches.

Q: Come on! I wasn't talking about those ladies or the kids who admire you as a tennis player but the girls who like you as a man. You're far away from the rest of the world in your town but does that mean it's irrelevant whether you're an attractive guy or not?

David: Well, everyone likes that, it's a nice feeling. Human beings want to be liked by others.

Q: Do you display the same ambition you show on court in other areas of your life?

David: On court, I'm more ambitious than anywhere else. That is what I devote myself to and it's what I like.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Javier Nalbandian talks about his little Brother - more on the Copa San Juan Minero


(La Nacion)

We've had quite a number of interviews with David in the past weeks and months. But now that David is training again he's apparently too busy to give interviews all the time. Which is, of course, a good thing. So here's something a little different, an interview with his eldest brother and first coach Javier. About David. From Diario de Cuyo. (Thanks, Tamar for pointing out both of these articles to me.)

Q: How is David, how's the recovery going?

Javier: Very good. He doesn't have any pain, he's three kilos away from his ideal weight. He never stopped working, as far as the typical limitations after such an operation would allow him.

Q: And the recovery is going ahead as planned?

Javier: Yes, the truth is that this break he has had to take, this time outside of the circuit, has made him more mature regarding those things that are not related to tennis. I can see that he's well, happy, eager, reconsidering his goals for the return.

Q: In what ways is he more mature and what objectives is he reconsidering?

Javier: More than anything else his way of approaching things. Being more mature and having been through all this, which isn't easy, means approaching things with a different philosophy. He's more relaxed now and this will help him with his return.

Q: So you can confirm that he'll return in San Juan?

Javier: Yes, he'll return here [in San Juan], in December.

Q: Tito Vázquez told Diario de Cuyo that your brother didn't become the No.1 because for him, tennis is a part of his life, it's not everything.

Javier: I know the way David is, I know him. And being #1 or #10 doesn't depend on seeing tennis one way or another. First, everyone has their goals, then you do an analysis with your coach and also with your conscience. But at the end of the day, it's the player who's on the court.

Q: But David has always been criticized for not spending much time training and in fact, there has also been a statement from you, criticizing your brother's environment.

Javier: Let's see... What got published on Infobae, my answers were misquoted and altered. And above all they criticized the way of training... It's all the same. As a matter of fact, those who say these things [about David training] are those who don't get to see it. If you're playing well it can hardly mean that you're not training. If these people had seen him work these last 18 years, the sacrifices he has had to make, the things he couldn't do, then they wouldn't say he doesn't like to work.

Q: Back to Vazquez, in the same interview he said that the atmosphere on the Argentine team was good [during the ties] against the Czech Republic and The Netherlands, exactly those ties where David wasn't there. What generates that view?

Javier: No, I will not engage in polemics. I'll just say that whenever it came to representing the country he gave it his everything. And he is the only one, or one of the few who can carry an entire team.

Q: They say that David and Del Potro don't get along, how do you see that relationship?

Javier: I only saw David and Juan together once, when they were playing Davis Cup, and they were fine. Both are good players, each wants the best for himself and for the team and maybe in the course of this struggle to defend the flag, other issues came up. But both have very clear goals and I don't see why they shouldn't be able to get along.

Q: Outside of training, what does David do in his spare time?

Javier: Ehh, I can only talk about things we did 18 years ago, because of the travelling we didn't get to spend much time together. We go fishing, spend time together, have barbecues, hang out with our friends. We have a good time.

Q: What will be David's focus in 2010?

Javier: His prime goal is to play again.

Q: Are you afraid he might not be able to recover his level?

Javier: I don't think so.

Q: So you're having some doubts?

Javier: That's a question he should answer. Until he starts playing again we won't know whether he'll get back to 100%.


Diario de Cuyo also has this new article about the Copa San Juan Minero and the man behind this tournament, David's former coach Martin Jaite, seen here with David during a training session.



"For me, it's a dream come true, being able to organize a tournament with these players. The people of San Juan will witness a unique spectacle," said Martin Jaite, former player and now businessman, who officially confirmed yesterday what he had announced exclusively on Diario de Cuyo on September 16: the realization of a tournament in San Juan with David Nalbandian, Gaston Gaudio, Guillermo Cañas and Nicolas Massu. It will take place on December 12 and 13 at the stadium Aldo Cantoni, a tennis event like there has never been one in San Juan before because of the level of the participating players. Apart from that, the tournament will see the return of David Nalbandian after his hip surgery, which will definitely be an extra attraction.

Jaite, a former Top 10 player and current director of the Buenos Aires ATP tournament (Copa Telmex), arrived yesterday in San Juan for the official announcement of the tournament together with the governor José Luis Gioja at a press conference. The event is called Copa San Juan Minero and will feature three matches. On Saturday, December 12, the four players will meet in the semifinals (the match-ups will be announced later). The final will be played on Sunday, December 13.

Although the schedule has not yet been confirmed, the idea is that on Saturday, play will begin at 6pm and that on Sunday, the final will start at 8 or 9pm.

The losers of the semifinal matches will offer a clinic for boys on Sunday morning at the St. John's Lawn Tennis Club.

Jaite has organized events like this for four players at Punta del Este [Uruguay] since 2005 , but this year marks the first time it will be played in Argentina. Prior to San Juan, there will be a presentation in Buenos Aires, though with different players (Cañas, Gaudio, Monaco, Acasuso).

"This is not just another tournament, it's a challenge for us because it's not easy to convince the players. But what made me really happy is that David (Nalbandian) chose the Copa San Juan Minero for his return to the court. It will be something very important and therefore, there will be a lot of attention from the national and international press. I believe the fact that San Juan is not too far away from Cordoba (where Nalbandian lives) has had a major impact on his decision. If it was farther away I'm convinced that David wouldn't come," Jaite said. Nalbandian, who visited San Juan in 2006 to see a rally race, is recovering from hip surgery he had to undergo in May.

Jaite also said that "David is a very popular figure but Gaudio has a special feeling with the people. At the same time, we cannot rule out that we may get to see the last few games of Cañas before his retirement. And Massu is a great tennis player, so I'm sure that these are four excellent players that will play this event."

That's the article. But on that page, there's also a bit of additional information in the sidebar. Crucial information and even more important than the article itself, as far as I'm concerned:

The Copa San Juan Minero matches will be televised live on TyC Sports.

Yay! :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fox Sports Interview - Summary

Update
I've found another clip of the interview...

<a href="http://msn.foxsports.com/fsla/video?vid=c3b2171e-34f9-40f2-8781-6bbd2066b061&from=IV2_es-mx_foxsports_videocentral" target="_new" title="A solas con David Nalbandian">Video: A solas con David Nalbandian</a>





After having watched the interview one and a half times (and that one, complete time on a very bad stream), this is as much as could gather. All in all, it was the usual blend of questions about the usual blend of topics...

- Recovery. He's doing well, he's feeling good. The trip to Barcelona, where he spent a week training under the supervision of Dr. Ruiz-Cotorro, was very "positive". Just like the results of the tests. His recovery is going well and according to plan. He still has to be careful with certain movements, though. And it's still a long way till his official comeback next year. But at the moment he's feeling good, having started to train again about a month ago. Before that, rehabilitation and doing all those exercises was difficult and lengthy (and very boring, I guess), those four hours a day.
At the moment, he's training on clay but he'll slowly change to training on hardcourt, knowing that he has to be careful about making that transition.

- Comeback. If all goes well, he'll play the exho(s) in December. (He only talked about the Copa Argentina in the interview so it was apparently filmed before he committed to playing San Juan.) But he wants to play again in December, he's looking forward to it. And those exho(s) will be important to judge how well he's really doing.
Then he talked about his official comeback in January. Saying that it's difficult to foresee how well he'll be able to play then as won't have any kind of rhythm. And I'm pretty sure he also said something about playing an event like Sydney or Auckland. Which was complete news to me. Can someone who watched the interview, Tamar for example, confirm this? That he said Sydney or Auckland?

- Ranking and important tournaments. Once more, David declared that doesn't care about his ranking. It's only important to get into certain events and be seeded at the Slams but he'll have his protected ranking and those eight chances to use it. Still, he hopes to recover his ranking as quickly as possible. He'll have to see how it goes after two or three months. And he'll need at least one month to get any kind of rhythm. He can only wait and see when he'll be back at 100%, maybe in time for Roland Garros, or Wimbledon or Rome (don't know why he mentioned that one). Masters events are difficult because you play every day and get to face very good opponents every match. Slams are different, you play every other day, there are more players but also more surprises.
Asked about his past Grand Slam experiences, David said that he had his chances but that it didn't work out for one reason or the other.

- Delpo and the US Open. Thought he would reach the quarterfinal or semifinal. Delpo played a great match already against Rafa and even more so against Federer and he recovered really well after the third set. Asked about Federer's outburst, David thought it was no big thing.

- Davis Cup. Sweden will be a tough opponent in the first round. (He specifically mentioned Söderling, which is not surprising...) It will be a tough tie and there's no guarantee that Argentina will win it. In the end, it'll come down to winning three of the four singles rubbers. About the doubles, we'll see...
He has often had to play on all three days in the past, which is very tough. And it's not so much that it's physically demanding but the pressure and just how much attention there is, how important each match is, that has had him finish those ties dead on his feet. Especially since former captain Alberto "Luli" Mancini relied on him, winning the ties, making him play doubles, which made it very tough to play on Sundays as well.
Next year, Argentina won't get to play a series of home ties but with the team they have now that's no longer as important, they can play everywhere as if they were playing in Argentina.

- Rafael Nadal. David spoke to him when he was in Barcelona and Rafa told him he was having an abdominal injury. His knees are better now but David thinks this kind of problem is typical for tennis players. And that it's also another sign of how brutal the calendar is, that Rafa is having such serious problems at age 23.

- Guillermo Coria. It's a strange situation. Coria has always been a player of great quality and David kept asking himself, as well as asking Coria, whether he'll come back...

- How long David will continue to play. His approach has always been - for as long as he wants to play, as long as he's still motivated. Right now, he still thinks the same. And he believes that he still easily has another two or three years of playing. That is if he can continue to play well and if his hip is okay. After all, tennis is the sport he has played all his life. And it's the sport he likes.

Friday, October 9, 2009

David on Fox Sports - continued...

The interview will be aired again on Fox Sports tomorrow, i.e. Saturday at
1am & 7:30am Argentina, 12pm & 6:30am EST, 6am & 12:30am CET

Here's a link for a justin.tv channel that's streaming Fox Sports. - At the moment, while I'm posting this (can't embed this one).*
I can't promise you that it'll still be showing Fox Sports by the time the interview will be on. Chances are that it won't. But that's all I can do right now. I definitely won't be awake for the first repeat but I'll check again for streams in time for the second one.

*Update (Saturday)
There was a bit of chaos with the second repeat, as it was on later than scheduled.
I hope that some of you still got to watch it...
A summary (or maybe a transcript) of the interview will be available soon.


Update II
There's a very short clip of it on YouTube (thanks, tennisace):





Earlier tonight, while I was looking for a Fox Sports stream, I came across a repeat of the interview by chance. (A link was available here for as long as it was on.) I missed the first half of it but was at least able to make a couple of screencaps:





Wednesday, October 7, 2009

David on Fox Sports - 9pm Argentina, 8pm EST, 2am CET

...

Here was a stream for the special program about David on Fox Sports.
Thanks again Tamar (and Diego566) for pointing this one out to me.


Update
The program, a 30-minute interview with David that was filmed in Cordoba, will be repeated on Fox Sports.

Monday, October 5, 2009

David to return in San Juan


(Gentileza Clarin/mundod.lavoz.com.ar)

It is official now and all over the Argentine news sites, David will play his first match after the injury pause in San Juan. There, the Copa San Juan Minero (as it's now going to be called) will take place on December 12/13 at the Aldo Cantoni stadium. David will be joined by Gaston Gaudio, Guillermo Cañas and Nicolas Massu. This was announced today by Martin Jaite, José Luis Gioja (governor of the San Juan province) and Damián Escobar (president of the San Juan Lawn Tenis Club).
(Source: DyN news agency via Mundo D, ESPN, Yahoo...)

So David will play his first match on December 12. Now we can only hope that it will indeed be shown on TyC Sports and that there will be a stream for it. Fingers crossed...


Update
Some quotes from Martin Jaite.
"This event will mark the return of David Nalbandian, so there will be huge expectations, watching him play again," Jaite said and explained that his term as Nalbandian's coach ended "in November 2008, but we still have a good relationship."

"It will be a very important occasion because it will be the first time that San Juan will host a tennis event of this magnitude."

The quotes are from this article. Which also contains the following, slightly mysterious sentence:
The exhibition starts on Saturday, December 12 with the semifinals and the winners will face off in the final on the following day, while the losers will offer a tennis clinic, which will be televised live by TyC Sport.
- Does that mean they're gong to televise the clinic but not the matches? I don't know... I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

YouTube Best Of-3... Copa Argentina

No news from David at the moment.
No confirmation of the San Juan exhibition yet.
Time to have a look at the event David will play, the Copa Argentina. Or Copa Peugeot Argentina de Tenis, as it's officially called. Held at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club (BALTC), also home of the Copa Telmex, and played on hardcourt. The event was first established in 2003 and since then, David has played it every single year, winning it twice (2005 against Calleri and 2007 against Monaco). Last year though, an injured and frustrated David lost his opening match against Chela (view report).

Here are a few impressions from the Copa Argentina 2007. (I couldn't find any clips of David's brief visit to the BALTC last year.) With David, fresh from his victories at Madrid and Paris... Just to get an idea of the place and the event. Enjoy.



David prepares for his semifinal match against Chela (he won 6-1, 6-3). Note the comfy chair and the huge bottle of what looks like red wine next to it...



Match point against Monaco. (David won the final 6-4, 7-5.) And classic David stuff. There's a bit of a struggle with his serve but then his backhand wins him the point - and the title.



More footage from the final, filmed from the stands. Including the trophy ceremony.