Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Last Post of the Year

Here are more photos from the Copa Argentina, courtesy of Tamar...





















The rest of Tamar's photos from the Copa Argentina you can find here.

So - this is it, my last post for 2009.
Vamos David will take a break now until the the new year.

But before I go, I want to thank Tamar for everything she has done for me and this blog.
And thank you to everybody who wrote to me, everybody who recorded and uploaded matches, linked articles or videos, discovered streams, left comments, recommended and linked Vamos David on other sites and forums, and those who stuck around during those seven months...

Thanks to all of you from me and happy holidays!

See you in 2010 for David's comeback on the Tour...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Copa Argentina: Sunday Review



(Note: download links for the final added at the end of this post.)

One year ago, after the lost Davis Cup final and all the turmoil that went with it, an injured and disgruntled David marched into the BALTC stadium, greeted by some half-hearted applause. He lost his first match against Chela and that was that (no round-robin system back then).
Twelve months later, at the same stadium and event, the crowd celebrated David's successful comeback - or at least the successful conclusion of its first stage. And that was important for David...
"I don't know whether it was because of the expectations about my return, because of my career, or because they missed me but the crowd was spectacular in its support for me and that means a lot to me. I know that many are aware of the sacrifices I had to make for the sake of playing again. It's good to enjoy the support and these things because when you retire, you don't get any of this anymore. I think one gets more mature. I've used this time to take a look at these things from the outside and with the feeling of wanting to enjoy those last years on the Tour, beyond the maelstrom you find yourself in for most of the year."
After due to bad weather, all matches got cancelled on Saturday, David had to play what would be the first of his two matches on Sunday against Gaston Gaudio at noon. The same Gaudio David had defeated easily a week ago in San Juan.



Apart from that, David went into that match, knowing about the situation in his round-robin group and the possible consequences. Still, the match turned out to be tougher than expected.
"Already in the morning I knew that winning a set would be enough to make it to the final. It was difficult, Gaston played very well and made it hard for me but then I relaxed and didn't care anymore whether I won or lost."

"In the evening I felt much better that during the match at noon against Gaudio. We're both in the middle of pre-season and we suffered a bit because of the heat and the humidity. But this is a good way of finding my rhythm, playing matches and achieving the main goal, which is to return to the circuit in best shape."
With Gaudio up a set and double-break at 6-3, 4-0, the match seemed virtually over. But at that very moment, David suddenly began to find his range with his groundstrokes and, helped by various double faults and unforced errors from Gaudio, eventually managed to take the second set 7-5. - All that was required from him in that match.
As soon as it was over, David positively fled from stadium, trying to not waste any more time then necessary, getting at least some rest and preparing for his second match of the day...
The final against Marcos Baghdatis.



The question was of course, how David would handle having to play two matches on one day, with the first one going the distance. But while he had struggled with his timing against Gaudio (36 unforced errors in that match), against Baghdatis David seemed completely focused from the start and much more determined to take control of the rallies.
"I took more risks in the final. I wanted to keep the points short. Some shots I made, others I didn't. But I think I hit more winners than unforced errors."

(Photos above: Fotobaires)

David broke serve in the very first game but Baghdatis managed to get the re-break and level the score at 3-3. David immediately broke again for a 4-3 lead and eventually served out the set without difficulty, 6-4.

In the second set, it was Baghdatis who broke first for a 2-0 lead but David got the break straight back. At 2-2, David secured what would turn out to be the decisive break in this set and therefore the match, going up 3-2. Serving for the match at 5-4, David went down 0-30 but eventually converted his second match point.

Whereas the Gaudio match had been an error-fest, David quickly found his range and his rhythm against Baghdatis, who seemed to struggle more with having to play two matches than David (but had of course also far less time to recover).


(Charly Díaz Azcué)

After the match, a very happy David confirmed once more that he didn't feel any pain, playing. And that he simply enjoys being back on court again. While even for him, it's difficult to believe how much he has already achieved, how far he has come in these last few months.
"It's important to keep playing, keep going on. Four months ago, I was on crutches. So this is incredible."

"I'm content because I feel that with each match I played a little better. It's always great to play here in Argentina."

"I didn't feel any discomfort, which is the most important thing and shows that the recovery process continues. What I may still lack in terms of tennis, will follow."


(Charly Díaz Azcué)

Quotes from La Nacion, Óle, Infobae.com & MundoD.

Here's an interview with David from ESPN...



He's content, eager to play again. The rehabilitation process was tough. And the most important thing for him this weekend is that he's feeling well.
It was a tough year for him, though it started well in Sydney. But then the problems with his hip made it a very difficult year. His victory will hopefully be a good impulse for having a good start, next year.
The doctors always encouraged him, gave him hope, though there were many restrictions about what he was allowed to do and what not. But he never felt pain or discomfort and that was important for his mind, so that there's no anxiety about playing again and coming back.
Today, he felt "practically normal" on court, maybe a bit slow but "normal".
He was surprised by how well Gaudio played, it was a tough match but after winning the second set, the outcome didn't really matter.
The victory over Baghdatis is something special, also because it was his second match on that day. And it's pre-season, they were both tired.
Tournaments next year: Auckland, Australian Open, Buenos Aires, Acapulco. And about Davis Cup he'll have to see what kind of form he's in.


Update
Although there were problems with the stream, Andvari has managed to make a recording of the final and uploaded it (thank you for your troubles!). It comes in several parts and a couple of games are missing, due to the stream freezing up several times. But it's at least something. :)

Part 1: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=FG9Y0MHN
Part 2: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=8YTJH301

Of the last part there are two versions.
This one, though not a proper flv file, works on the VLC player:
Part 5: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=TO5KJLKT

But there's also a version in mp4 format, for Windows Media Player etc.
Part 5: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=V5SB3F4B

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Copa Argentina Final: David beats Baghdatis


(Fotobaires)

David has won the Copa Argentina, defeating Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 6-4 in the final.
This victory marks his third triumph at the Copa Argentina after 2005 and 2007 - but this was definitely the least expected one of those three...

Here's a video about the final from ESPN...




More soon...

Last Day of the Copa Argentina - and David's Season


(Prensa Copa Argentina - from the Gaudio match)


Today, David will play his last match of this season...
But the question is whether this last match will be the one against Gaudio, due to start shortly, or the final against Monaco or Baghdatis tonight.

UpdateThere is a stream after all from ESPN+: http://horaciotv.ucoz.com/index/0-5
(Thank you, to the one who posted it, I can't reproduce your username with my keyboard here. ;)


Update II
David has lost his second round-robin match against Gaston Gaudio, who prevailed 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
Coming back from a double-break down at 0-4 in the second, David still managed to win that set and take the match into a third - which in the end proved to be a lot more important than its actual outcome...
Because it means that regardless of this defeat, David is through to tonight's final, thanks to having the best 'sets won/lost' ratio in his group:
David: 3-2
Gaudio: 3-3
Moya: 2-3

A video of the match against Gaudio, starting at 6-3, 2-0, can be downloaded here (thanks, Andvari):
www.megaupload.com/?d=JO8ZKYVY


So David's last match of this season will be the final of the Copa Argentina.
He'll face either Juan Monaco or Marcos Baghdatis. (Who still have to play their match.)
The final starts at 8pm local (+3 hrs GMT, -2 hrs EST).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

All Matches Cancelled For The Day

All Copa Argentina matches have been cancelled for the day, due to "heavy storms" in Buenos Aires - as Tamar has just informed me.
(Thank you so much for the update. Though it's bad news...)

Therefore, all remaining matches will have to be played tomorrow.
The revised schedule looks like this:

David vs Gaudio
12pm local (+3 hrs GMT, -2 hrs EST)

Followed by Monaco vs Baghdatis

8pm local - Final


Here are the stream links again. Hopefully, they'll work tomorrow...
fenixtvc.com.ar.
http://www.justin.tv/tenisarg.

About the Match against Moya, yesterday...




About David's 6-2, 6-4 victory last night - maybe the most important thing was that he didn't feel any pain, there was no trouble with his hip. (Taping his wrist seemingly was just a precaution.) Which is even more important as he had to work harder and cover a lot more ground than in his previous matches. I thought David moved well throughout the match, though he was visibly exhausted afterwards. And once again, it was amazing to see how much risk he took with his forehand - and that more often than not, it worked. Unlike his serve, which wasn't as impressive as in San Juan and fell apart a little in the second set...

For those who couldn't watch David's match against Moya, someone (thank you, whoever you are :) has recorded the match and put it up on Megaupload (stream recording, flv format).
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=DTPV9V8E

And here's a short clip filmed by Tamar from the stands, showing one of those entertaining rallies in the second set, complete with a "hot dog" from David...





(Photos above: Fotobaires)




(Prensa Copa Argentina)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Copa Argentina starts for David tonight

David plays his first match at this year's Copa Argentina tonight. He'll face Spain's Carlos Moya, who, just like David, is currently on the comeback trail after having been sidelined with a serious hip injury since February.
Last night, Moya defeated Gaston Gaudio 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in what was the first match of David's group (while Monaco beat Gonzalez 7-5, 6-4 in the second group).


Update
In a in parts highly entertaining match David beat Carlos Moya 6-2, 6-4.
David immediately broke Moya's serve for a 2-0 lead and then again when Moya was serving to stay in the set at 5-2.
The second set not only saw some very entertaining rallies but also the first time David went down a break since his comeback, gifting it to Moya with double fault. Moya, however, promptly returned the favour to level the score at 3-3. Eventually, David managed to get the decisive break when Moya was serving to stay in the match.

While David's forehand was once again impressive (just like in San Juan), he was struggling with his serve, especially in the second set. But overall, it was another great performance from David, given the circumstances. And it was definitely a different atmosphere than it was in San Juan. More of a test...

UPDATE II
It now says on the Copa Argentina site that David's match against Gaudio will not take place at around 10.30pm as the second match of the night but at
8.30pm local (+3 hrs GMT, -2 hrs EST).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Copa Argentina Press Conference Photos

Here are some photos Tamar took at yesterday's press conference and which she's allowing me to use on Vamos David. (Thank you!) The complete set, as well as many other photos she has taken of David can be found here, on her website.


















And here's another video of David from ESPN (thanks, Anna)...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Copa Argentina Draw


(Photo: tournament website)

The draw for the Copa Argentina, or Copa Peugeot Argentina de Tenis as it's officially called, was pulled today. (The picture shows the stadium last year.)
The event will be played in a "Super Six" format with two round robin groups, the winners of which will meet in Sunday's final.
Here's what those two groups will look like:

Group 1
David
Carlos Moya
Gaston Gaudio

Group 2
Fernando Gonzalez
Juan Monaco
Marcos Baghdatis


Schedule
(first matches start 8.30pm local)

Thursday, Dec 17
Gaudio vs Moya
Gonzalez vs Monaco

Friday, Dec 18
David vs Moya
Baghdatis vs Gonzalez

Saturday, Dec 19
Baghdatis vs Monaco
David vs Gaudio

Sunday, Dec 20
Final, 7:30pm local
Winner Group 1 vs Winner Group 2

In other words, David won't play his first match until Friday night.
Photos from the press conference and more info soon...

For the moment, here's a little snippet of David at today's press conference (thanks, Tamar), talking about the tournaments he'll play next year. Acapulco is on that list, as well...



And here he is, posing for photos at the stadium, together with Baghdatis, Monaco, Gaudio and Moya...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Now it's time to play and have fun again" - David's Quotes from San Juan



First of all, a brief update about the Copa Argentina, which will start on Thursday. Marat Safin, the new vice president of the Russian Olympic committee, has withdrawn from the event and will be replaced by Gaston Gaudio. There goes the chance of seeing a last match between David and Marat... The draw for the Copa Argentina will be pulled tomorrow and there'll also be a press conference. (I hope you'll have a good time, Tamar. ;)

But now for some quotes from David from the last weekend. He did a variety of interviews for a variety of Argentine newspapers. Though the questions asked (as well as the answers given) were overall quite similar. Therefore, I've decided to combine quotes from different interviews to form a kind of "best of".
I'll start with the one I've taken the headline from...
The recovery and playing again
There's no anxiety, I really want to play. I've been training but I'm still still need more matches under my belt and also more time. I think I approached it [the recovery] calmly and did those things well. And now it's time to play and have fun on the court, at least a little longer. It's a nice phase of the recovery process to be in, and it's part of the set-up for next year.

Now I can [run] but at first, everything was forbidden and that was difficult to accept. The first time I was back on a tennis court, I was hitting the ball well and when the ball came at me, I felt like I could chase it down and I said to myself, "why are you still not allowed to run at all?". That month was pretty complicated.

My analysis is that for almost a year and a half I played with a lot of pain, almost on one leg, and still I had some good results. Therefore, even in the worst case, I'll still be better than I was last year. There was no setback at any point of the rehabilitation. Initially, there was a little pain when I started doing exercises in the water. But afterwards, having talked to all kinds of people, [I found out that] the pain I felt was only one percent of what other people experience who've had knee surgery or hip surgery. So the recovery process went extremely well and that gives me hope.

When I began with my pre-season training, I had pains in my wrist, shoulder, knee, ankle, joints and muscles that I hadn't been using for a while and which took their time, getting into the rhythm again. I couldn't play for two days because my right wrist hurt. And I was only playing for 20 minutes a day, standing in the middle of the court. Fortunately, right now I have several months of tennis ahead of me and I only feel the usual pre-season tiredness.

The pause has its pros and cons. The pros have been being able to spend time here and take some time off the circuit. It makes you eager to return, with your batteries recharged. And the cons - having to have surgery because you don't know whether you'll come back. Although I'm doing well at the moment, I don't know what will be in three months. I still don't have much rhythm, or the nerves you need at 5-4 or in a tiebreak. But I think that I'll adjust quickly.

I want to play points again, have fun. Up until now, everything has been very structured, planned, what to do off court for the rehabilitation and what to do on court, as well. I want to walk on court again without having to be careful. And to play, which is the nicest thing.

About San Juan
(after the match against Massu)
I'm super content. It's been a while since I last was on a tennis court, playing [a match]. And the truth is that I felt very good from the start. Walking onto the court and being greeted by standing ovations from the crowd, that was great. It's very nice to see that people love and support you. And about the match, I did more than well for it being the first match.

If I want to be back inside the Top Ten, I have to be in great shape. Everything has to work. For me, this has been a test under match conditions. I've played a couple of training matches but today it was different, to serve, having to really go for it in some moments, getting only little rest between points. I had to give my best in each moment of this match to start finding my rhythm.

(Martin Jaite's impression after the first match)
I thought he played very accurate tennis, surprisingly accurate. He was very focused and eager to play. In top tennis, the state of mind is very important. If he's well and wants to play, he'll adjust to the Tour very quickly.

(after the match against Gaudio)
I'm happy. I think it's very nice, playing my first matches after the pause in Argentina. It's encouraging to play at home, having your network of people with you, those who have supported you at all times. I'm happy to be playing again. to be on court, enjoy the sport, tennis and to sweat a little is good.

I'm fine, I felt good when I woke up today [after having played the first match]. My wrist hurt a little but after a couple of games I adapted to it and then it didn't bother me anymore. I don't have any problems with my hip and that's much more important. I have to keep on playing, keep adding more hours on the court.

Looking ahead
The deal I have with my doctor is to take it easy with my schedule for the first three or four months. To not play several weeks in a row and rest enough until the body has adjusted to playing competitive tennis again.

I'm not going to be careful about anything, I'm not going to decide which ball to chase down and which not. I'm not going to have doubts about that. I just have to try and do it to see where I stand.

The big matches obviously are the ones I always love to play but I don't have the rhythm yet it takes to face players like that. Right now, I can't walk on court and say, "I want to beat Federer or Nadal". I can play well against them but beating them after having been sidelined for such a long time is difficult.

Nothing is certain. I say it could be two more years, three or one. I hope it's not going to happen but if I get to October next year and I see that I can't realistically expect to win anything, then I'll say, "goodbye, I'm tired of being frustrated, I'll do something else." Right now, the situation is a different one, I'm in good shape and so I can dream about having another two years of playing at a high level. I want to play for another two or three years.

And here's a little exchange between David and Marcelo Maller from Clarin...
David: The doctor tells me that it'll be three or four months. By the time I get to Indian Wells, more or less, I should be fine. Maybe I'll go to Auckland or the Australian Open and I'm fine. I hope so.

Q: That's around the time of the Davis Cup [first-round tie against Sweden].

David: If it was about wanting to play Davis Cup, then I'd be playing Davis Cup all the time. But it will depend on how I start the year.

Q: Do you know how many kilos you've lost?

David: I'm fine. You've seen me look much worse?

Q: At times, yes.

David: In those seven months we had a little of everything. (bursts into laughter)

Q: Is there a new way of doing things now, more strict, also about food?

David: I took two months off, saying "I'll do what I want". Then there was the hip, you can't have three or four extra kilos, you have to have your best weight. So I recharged my batteries and then got back to the weight I need to have. And I'm going to get even better.

Q: Do you think that it affects your game, do you notice that? When you won Madrid and Paris in 2007 for example, your weight was ideal and you played very well.

David: Yes, yes. Obviously, I feel it, it makes a difference. These days I need to be very careful [about my weight]. I'm fine and I'm going to move better.
Sources: Diario de Cuyo, La Nacion, Óle, Clarin, MundoD1, MundoD2



(Photos above: Diario de Cuyo)



(La Nacion)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

David wins the Copa San Juan Minero



Maybe, David's performance wasn't quite as impressive as it was against Massu in his first match. But it was still good enough to win the Copa San Juan Minero, defeating Gaston Gaudio 6-2, 6-2. - The perfect finish for David's return to the tennis court after seven months.
In a match that saw many errors from both players, the atmosphere was fairly intense for an exhibition with Gaudio repeatedly argueing about linecalls and smashing his racquet. David on the other hand didn't have the same accuracy he displayed against Massu but he still managed to come up with a couple of great shots. In both the first and the second set, David first broke Gaudio's serve in the fourth game and then never allowed him to get back into the set and, ultimately, the match.

All in all a perfect start for David, better than I dared to hope for after all these months. With his old strengths still there and his forehand looking even better than it used to... But the most important thing for me was to see him enjoy playing again. Without being troubled by his hip. (He said after both matches that he didn't feel any pain.)
But at the same time, that's all this weekend has been - a start. The first step on what's still a long road back to playing on the Tour, tournaments and Slams, Davis Cup...
Still, what better way to start this journey?

(Post about David's interviews in San Juan coming soon...)



A few impressions of David, playing... (from Fue Buena).









(Photos: Diario de Cuyo)

Comeback continued...



Here are a couple of photos from yesterday... I especially like the one above. Maybe, because for me, it kind of sums up last night, the match and David's return to the court.
Though the best part was of course being able to watch him play again...
(And not just wave and smile at the crowd. ;)










(Photos: Diario de Cuyo)

Somehow, it seems only fitting that these pics all show him hitting forehands. All in all, I think his forehand was the biggest surprise for me last night. Not only that it worked so well, I also thought that he hit it with more power than I seem to remember.
Apart from that, I think Krystle has said it all in her comment for the previous post. There's not much else I can think of right now. Expect that I also really liked that little slice drop-shot.
As for interviews with David from this weekend, I've found a couple already and I'll translate them as soon as I have the time. Tomorrow maybe, or Tuesday.

But first of all: tonight's final against Gaston Gaudio and the question whether David will be able to play as well again as he did yesterday. To be on the safe side I'll write the times down like this: ;)

David vs Gaudio
9pm local / +3 hrs GMT / -2 hrs EST

Let's hope for another good match from David tonight.
And that once again, he'll be able to say after the match that he didn't feel any pain... But really enjoyed himself.

Update
Yesterday's stream (http://fenixtvc.com.ar/) doesn't seem to be working.
If anybody finds a stream for David's match, please post it in the comments.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

San Juan: David wins his first Match after the Pause 6-2, 6-1



After having been sidelined for seven months, David played his first match today and beat Nicolas Massu 6-2, 6-1 at the Copa San Juan Minero exhibition. Though maybe a little cautious with his movement (and understandably so), David presented himself in much better form than I would've thought possible after this long pause. Especially his serve and his forehand were working amazingly well. But what was perhaps the most amazing thing about this match was the confidence with which David seemed to approach it.
And it was simply great to see how he enjoyed being out there and playing tennis again...

This victory means that David will meet Gaston Gaudio in tomorrow's final.
(9pm local, 12am GMT, 7pm EST.)

- That's the very, very short version of it.
More about the match tomorrow...


Update
For those who couldn't watch it - Krystle has recorded the match and put it up on Megaupload.
(Thank you so much!)
You can download it here: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=3DOLNLXL
The video is in flv-format and can be watched for example with the VLC player.



(Screencaps by Tim - thanks.)

Stream for San Juan

Thanks a lot to Denise for the tip.
There's a pretty good stream on this site:

http://fenixtvc.com.ar/

(Click "TyC Tenis" on the bar to the left.)

The Countdown has begun...

213 days after David was wheeled into the operation room at the Clínica CIMA in Barcelona, wondering whether he'd be able to leave the clinic on his own two feet again, he'll play his first match after the pause today - at last! A first test for him (and his hip) under match conditions. And the first chance for us to watch him play after seven months.

If there's a press conference during the day and I can find something about it, articles or pics, I'll add it to this post.

About the exact schedule for tonight, I've read read different versions by now. The main difference being whether David's match against Massu will begin straight after Gaudio vs Cañas, or definitely not before 9pm local. I can't say which version is correct. Only that at
7pm local - 10pm GMT - 5pm EST
Gaston Gaudio will play against Guillermo Cañas.
I'll try to find a stream already during that match and embed it here.
And then we'll (hopefully) see what happens...


Update
In the meantime, here's a photo of David's and Gaston Gaudio's arrival in San Juan yesterday...


(Diario de Cuyo)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

David: I'm fully recovered


(Photo: BATennis.com)

That's the key statement in this new article on the official site. With the Copa San Juan Minero now only two days away, David says that he "feels fully recovered from his hip injury". - Good news!
"I'm very eager to play tennis again. I'm at a good level, both physically and in terms of tennis. Those six months of recovery have been very tough but they have also allowed me to rest and spend time with my family and friends in Unquillo."
David adds that he "really wants to return to the circuit" in the second week of January at Auckland.

In the meantime, preparations at the Estadio Aldo Cantoni in San Juan have begun. Usually, it's a venue for hockey, volleyball and basketball and looks like this:


(Photo: Diario de Cuyo)

The court is currently being laid. Apparently, the organisers want a fairly quick surface, which, according to Diario de Cuyo, will have the colour "celeste", i.e. sky-blue. If all goes well, the court will be ready by Friday and available for the players to train on, come Saturday morning.


Update
As Argentine news agency Telam reports (via infobae.com), everything is indeed going very well at the Estadio Aldo Cantoni and the court is expected to be ready for training already Friday evening. Or to quote Martin Jaite, "everything is ready, the only thing still missing is the decoration". - And the players. They will arrive tomorrow and then we'll find out whether there's going to be a press conference (not confirmed yet).


Update II (11/12/2009)
Here's what the Estadio Aldo Cantoni looks like now, with the court:


(Photo: Diario de Cuyo)

The press conference will apparently take place tomorrow, as David and Gaston Gaudio, who'll be taking the same flight, won't arrive in San Juan until later in the evening. (Source.)