(Photo: Sebastián Salguero for mundod.lavoz.com.ar)
First of all, there's news from the Copa San Juan Minero, which is only two weeks away now. Martin Jaite has announced the schedule of events and it looks like this:
Friday, Dec 11 - players' arrival and possible press conference
Saturday, Dec 12 - semifinals, first match to start 7pm local (11pm CEST, 5pm EST)
Sunday, Dec 13 - final to start 9pm local (1am CEST, 7pm EST)
All three matches will be shown live on TyC Sports.
And although no official information has yet been released about the semifinal match-ups, Jaite told Diario de Cuyo the following. "We're going to sort the players according to their ATP rankings, which makes Nalbandian and Massu the two top players, while Gaudio is ahead of Cañas. Therefore, David will play Willy and Gaudio will play Massu. This will be confirmed next week."
So David's first match after the pause will be against Guillermo "Willy" Cañas.
(photo: "95.1 Metro" site)
And here's, at last, the radio interview (November 12). Or rather, here's my translation of Tamar's "best of" transcript (thanks again!). It starts with David, defining his way of playing tennis...
I try not to run, I try to make my opponent run. The intention is to make the opponent run.
Spending as much time away from the Tour as I've done now, you want to return. To be there, to feel the nerves before the match, those sensations... To go back to competing, being there, playing against others and beating them.
The comeback will take place the week before Australia [i.e. Australian Open]. In Australia, the heat makes you suffer a lot. But it's nice there, a place I can only recommend. It's a very beautiful country, very tidy, very modern. Actually, when I went there for the first time, I was surprised by what a beautiful country it is.
When I started playing professionally, I never thought about playing until a certain age because that always depends on injuries. Right now, I think that I'll play for another two or three years. I've always said that I'll definitely keep playing till 30 and that when I'm 30, I'll see how I am, physically - will I go on playing, or not? And will I still keep on playing if I'm #80 and start to be annoyed with my ranking, playing Challenger events? Right now, I'd say that I will.
In the future [after retiring], it will be very difficult to stay away from tennis completely. Coaching young players at an academy or coaching a professional player - both options have their appeal. Having a small academy and passing on your life experience and your knowledge to kids, giving them opportunities, that's always nice. I think in Argentina we don't have enough of that, in terms of tennis, it's about providing a good basis, that kids can train well and do the things they have to do in order to make it [i.e. turn pro]. So maybe in other countries, there's a better infrastructure and they produce, or don't produce good players. It's not that having a better infrastructure alone will produce better players. It's very difficult. But I think it's a nice task. As is being Davis Cup captain. Or coach.
When you're going to play a tournament, the more focused you are, the better. And if you have ten friends coming along with you, that's very difficult. Going to Mar del Plata, there were eleven of them, all in one VW bus. Sharing what you do with someone who doesn't play tennis professionally is very difficult. Or to put differently, for them it's also difficult to watch their friend, competing. It gives my family the chance to travel with me around the world. My brother Javier used to be my coach and travelled with me a lot at the junior stage. Back then, he travelled with me as my coach, as my brother, as my father - a little bit of everything. And my mom, whenever she can, she'll pack her bags and come with me. My brother Darío also used to travel with me but not as much anymore because he's now coaching some kids.
A tennis player who doesn't break racquets is not a tennis player... It's been twelve years of playing [professionally], I started playing tennis when I was five. When I was a boy, I had to make do, playing with a broken racquet because my dad didn't have enough money to buy me a new one. So I had to keep the broken racquet and I was about to play the regional championships... I broke it in a fit of rage and my dad said, "you have to live with it, you'll play with that one."
My dad died in 2004. It still seems like it happened only recently, it will always seem that way. My dad didn't like to travel, he preferred to watch the matches at home. He liked to travel in Argentina, though. But he mostly suffered [watching matches] at home.
Q: In the past of each great tennis player, there's always someone who used to play against them when they were young, someone who would beat them, who was ten times better than them but never made it to the professional level in the end. Did that happen to you as well?
David: Not at my level but there was always another level above mine, older than we were, and many of them were extremely talented and played very well. And then, out of laziness, or a lack of discipline or resources, or for other reasons - they didn't make it. Making it in tennis is very difficult. You have to give up a lot of things for it. I left school in the third year of secondary school. I did half of high school, more or less. And I never made plans with my friends from school when I was young. As a tennis player, you don't get to have those typical teenage experiences because you have too many other commitments, outside of school. It's different if you're training to become a professional athlete.
Why I've changed my way of dealing with the press... I've always done what I wanted to do at that moment. And what annoyed me was having to waste time [on interviews]. I came back home and wanted to spend five or ten days in peace in Cordoba. And I didn't want to do interviews. It's impossible to please everybody. I said yes to many of them, to many others I said no. That's the way it is. I've dealt with it for many years. They call you on the phone and ask, "can you do an interview?" and I tell them, "no, excuse me, but I'm on my way to eat, or to train" and then they say, "but it'll only take five minutes, one minute," and I say, "no, I've told you no, or maybe you don't understand the meaning of the word 'no'?" And then I'd end up getting angry... It has caused a lot of friction over the years. I think one of the reasons I've changed my approach in the past six months is that I've been able to meet all those requests [for interviews], having more time and being more relaxed. But come January, I'll close the door again.
I think that those journalists who've actually done the sports they're reporting about possess some inside knowledge about how a player feels during a match. Therefore, they have many advantages, compared to a journalist who has studied journalism and who's on televison or the radio, having never picked up a racquet, having never played football, having never done anything of the sort. Someone who has played football and talks or writes about it will say different things from someone who never played themselves. And that's why I think that a former player who then takes up journalism has a big advantage.
Q: During the match, what do you think about?
David: I think about a thousand things... I think about how I'm going to have a barbecue with my friends on Thursday at noon. Running around on court, you think about a thousand different things. For example, I'm playing at the stadium and I know what's happening everywhere in the stands, I pay a lot of attention to all of that and it doesn't affect my concentration. If the crowd is against me, I like it even better. I'm aware of a lot that goes on inside the whole stadium. For example, if my team is there, I know at which point they leave, when they come back, I know when they're talking, when they're not talking, when they're watching, when they're not watching. I'm like that. But there are also players who keep their head down and don't know what's going on around them.
One year, I was playing on Court 2 at Wimbledon, I don't remember against who. We were in the fourth set and there, hidden in a corner of the stadium, were Ale Gabriel and Valeria Mazza [Argentine actress and her husband] hidden, watching the match. Impressive. There they were, in a corner at the side of the court. After the match I went over to him and said, "you idiot, you arrive at 4-4 in the fourth set and then leave again at 2-1 in the fifth" or something like that, and he said, "how do you know?!" It's just that I like to know what's happening, what's going on around me. I don't think it'll make me win or lose a match point. It's just the way I am. And I use it to concentrate or distract me during moments of pressure. And well, it's just the way I am.
Sometimes, you'll get to see a couple of actors, there to watch a match. And I've seen Tiger Woods a few times. I've spoken to Tiger twice, one "hi" and then another "hi" and "bye". Tiger has an imposing presence, commanding respect. He's like Maradona in this, they both have something special about them, different from the rest. And actors, actresses, they also show up for the tournaments. I've met Owen Wilson, I've met him here in Argentina after first meeting him in the US and that was cool. And I think Sharon Stone was there once, somewhere. And then there are others we don't recognize because they're on American TV andthen someone will say to you, "hey, that was so and so". Or take Tommy Haas' girlfriend, she's a well-known actress and she travels with a friend I don't know. But she's an actress.
Unquillo has always been the site of the Cordoba rally. I have photos of my mom, with me on her arm, at the race. I don't even remember [being there] and yet I have those photos showing that I was. In Cordoba, there is a passion for rally racing. Out of the different kinds of motorsports I like rally the best because the racetrack is great. With rally racing, you have a racetrack of 400km and it'll keep changing, each curve is different from the next. The navigator [co-pilot] is extremely important. That's the beauty of it, that you're competing in teams. The adrenaline I've felt in a rally car I've not felt anywhere else.
I'd like to jump out of a plane, parachuting. I've been on a glider (without motor) before. You get towed by a small aircraft, with the glider attached to it by a cable. I was in the front seat, with the instructor sitting behind me. And then he'll tell you to 'loosen the handle' and you have to disengage the cable, releasing you from the aircraft ahead. And then you let go and when you let go, it's incredible... It's a lot of fun. Hang gliding is more dangerous. I've done bungee jumping, I did that in Austria. I've always said that I would do parachuting and bungee jumping and I always said that I'd go parachuting before trying bungee jumping because with parachuting, I think that you jump and don't see the ground, you just jump. And with bungee jumping, you see the ground. And when you hang there [after having jumped] you're left hanging there for a bit. They don't lift you up again, they lower you down to the ground. I turned around and gripped the rope so I could turn my head.
I've been in a relationship for a long time now.
Q: You should raise a monument for your girlfriend.
David: For me! A monument for me! In fact, we still haven't finished getting to know each other, we're still at the beginning of our relationship. (laughter from the moderators)
We've been together for eleven years now, she's older than I am. There was a short break at some stage, to bring back the adrenaline to the relationship. After all, it's been eleven years... (laughs)
For a tennis player, having children is a synonym for retirement. What I tell her is that it would be different if we were living in Europe because then you can easily travel to tournaments but if you live in South America... And for women who are pregnant it is important not having to travel. It's very difficult. I think in tennis, travelling with a child is very difficult. Just imagine taking a plane every week, different hotels, a different country, time zone, food... For a newborn child that means a lot of trouble. I've seen "Gordo" Calleri and other people travel with children. Four bags for the child, two bags for him, three bags for the wife, and it is very difficult.
[Claudio Galasso on David's way of dealing with defeats]
He'll at least slam a door... There are moments when he needs to be left alone, to go to his room and think about what has happened, alone. Or maybe sitting naked in the locker room, with a towel over his head, thinking about what went wrong. You do an analysis of what happened in your head, why you lost your hold on that match and let it slip through your fingers, why you didn't manage to get a grip on it again. This process is necessary, it has to take place. It's about drawing a line and leaving the problem to be dealt with, later.