Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Last Post of the Year


(lahora.com.ec)

Originally, the previous post was supposed to be the last post of this year. And I didn't really think that there'd be any further news or interviews to report before the start of the year. - Until I came across the brief interview that David gave Argentine news agency Telam after winning the Summer Cup at Punta del Este. Speaking of which, winning exhibitions that is...
Though it's difficult to play at a good level in the middle of the pre-season, the results I've had at the exhibitions are very good. Winning always gives you confidence.
Although David will start the season at Auckland, he's already thinking about the big one - the Australian Open.
Despite the heat in Melbourne, I like the surface a lot, so I hope I'll be able to put in a good performance. That's my goal for the beginning of the season.
And about the Davis Cup. Of course.
The Davis Cup is what I've always wanted to win and I'm going to do whatever it takes to get that win. This year [i.e. 2011] we have a good draw to start with, so I think that we have a good chance.
Any changes planned in terms of his game for the new season?
After hip surgery I had to adjust my game to my new physical condition. The plan is to keep playing the same way I did in 2010.

But that's it for now. Really.
See you all in 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Summer Cup Final - Review



"It's always great to win and this is a good finish for a good off-season."
An off-season that has had David win all three exhibitions he entered - the Copa Almirante Brown, the Copa Argentina and Summer Cup. Without dropping a set.
Of course, not all of these matches were played really seriously, some of them were much more about entertaining the crowd (like the match against Safin at the Copa Argentina, for example). But still, last night's Summer Cup final was a different matter. A match that both David and his opponent Thomaz Bellucci seemed to be taking quite seriously and which ended with David, prevailing 7-6(4), 7-6(2).
"I'm happy, it was a very good match. The first set was hard-fought. In the second we both served better."
After getting broken early on (for 3-1), David was solid on serve and had break points in almost all of Bellucci's service games during the first set. But he managed to convert only one, breaking back to get back on serve at 4-3. In the first-set tiebreak, David quickly went up 6-2 and then converted his second set point.
The second set saw a series of quick service holds and two further break points for David he didn't manage to take (one of them a match point at 5-4). But the second tiebreak turned out to be even more one-sided than the first with David racing to a 6-1 lead before closing it out on his overall third match point.
A very good and very solid performance from David, especially on serve (after some initial difficulties). And although this match, just like the other exhibition matches, doesn't really mean much in the grander scheme of things, there are certainly worse ways of spending the off-season than winning seven matches in a row.

The ESPN website has a clip with some nice rallies, a brief look at the trophy ceremony and the David's post-match interview (from which I've taken the quotes). You can watch it here.

In the interview, David was also asked, once again, about his goals for next year...
"To be inside the Top 10 again if I get lucky with the injuries. That's what we're working for."
David's 2011 season begins at Auckland (January 10-15).
This time hopefully without picking up an injury in training...
In any case, Vamos David will be there to keep you posted. :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Summer Cup Final - The last Match of the Year



Update II
David has defeated Thomaz Bellucci 7-6(4), 7-6(2) to complete his clean sweep of exhibition events this December.

You can now download the match via David on Screen.

More tomorrow...




"I'm going to try and win." - That's what David said about tonight's final after beating Marat Safin yesterday. And winning this final, the very last match of David's somewhat chaotic 2010 season, would mean to finish the year with a perfect record - at least as far as exhibitions are concerned.
While it's the last match 2010, it's also a premiere, as David has never played against Thomaz Bellucci before.

Play tonight starts again at 9pm local (8pm Argentina/11pm GMT/6pm EST).
First up: Gaston Gaudio vs Marat Safin.
And then the final, David vs Thomaz Bellucci.

Update

Marat Safin has defeated Gaston Gaudio 7-5, 6-1.
David and Bellucci are now on court.

The ESPN website has a clip about both of last night's matches (from which I've taken the screencap above). You can watch it here.
In the interview part of it, David says he's happy and that it's been a very good off-season, which means good prospects for 2011. He has been busy, working to prepare for the new season and next week, he'll be on his way (to Auckland). As for Marat, David thinks he was a great player and although he's retired now, he's still dangerous.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Summer Cup: David beats Safin (again)



David's match against Safin is now available for download via David on Screen.
(Thanks, Krystle.)

Some photos by Tamar from Punta del Este here.


UpdateII
David has defeated Marat Safin 6-2, 7-5.
In the other match of the night, Thomaz Bellucci beat Gaston Gaudio 7-5, 7-5.
Which means that tomorrow night, David will face Thomaz Bellucci in the final.
Play starts again at 9pm local (8pm Argentina/11pm GMT/6pm EST) with the match Safin vs Gaudio. Afterwards the final: David vs Bellucci.


Tonight, David's last exhibition for the off-season, the Summer Cup in Uruguay, kicks off with the "semifinal" matches. And as the photo above (taken at yesterday's press conference) shows, everybody has arrived in Punta del Este, including David. Who, together with Gaston Gaudio, will make an appearance at the charity golf event organised by Uruguayan football star Diego Forlan today, before tonight's tennis (source).

But when will David play tonight and who will be his opponent?

Update (edited)
The new version of the schedule is the correct one.
Which means that at 9pm local (8pm Argentina/11pm GMT/6pm EST)
play starts with the match Gaston Gaudio vs Thomaz Bellucci.
Afterwards, David plays against Marat Safin.
Whether there'll be a stream - we'll see.

In the meantime, you can watch a clip of a rather bubbly and talkative David, getting interviewed by Martin Vasallo Arguello for Segundo Saque behind the scenes of the Copa Argentina.


(Fue Buena)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

David: I don't want to retire without having won the Davis Cup


(RadioFMQ; from the Copa Argentina)

It's been a promising off-season so far for David. And yet, something was missing...
Of course - David, talking about his favourite topic, the Davis Cup.
Last Wednesday, it was officially confirmed that the first-round tie against Romania will be played on clay at the Parque Roca in Buenos Aires (March 4-6). And on the same day, David met Sergio Stuart and Germán Martina from Olé to talk about, you've guessed it, the Davis Cup. And also about the next season.
Here's the interview.
Q: First of all, can the Davis Cup be won in 2011?

David: If Juan Martin (Del Potro) and I are in good shape, then we can put up a good fight against Serbia in a hypothetical semifinal in Belgrade. There'll be four competitive singles matches indoors, what we'll be lacking is a doubles team. It's difficult but not impossible.

Q: You have your personal history with the Davis Cup. You were injured in Sweden, you didn't have any match practice, going to Russia...

David: Yes. That with Sweden was madness. I went to Russia without having played any matches but I was healthy. You always hope to win and against Sweden, it was a tie where if I could be there somehow, we could win it. The crazy part about it was the situation: muscular tear, recovery, not having played, change of surface... I let myself be guided by my instinct, because I wanted to play, because I always give everything for the Davis Cup, with the mistakes that I make as well as with the good decisions.

Q: After winning the Davis Cup, Djokovic compared it to winning the World Cup in football. And you were crying after you won the fifth rubber against Youzhny.

David: It's something different. You're representing the country. I'm representing myself, my family, you, him, everybody. The responsibility and the pressure are much bigger. If you win the Davis Cup, the satisfaction is much bigger. You suffer. And you have to take into account that in the past, there have been many who found it difficult to play Davis Cup and others who became great because of it. That moment in Russia was relief, satisfaction, pressure, joy...

Q: Is the defeat against Spain at Mar del Plata 2008 still the thorn in your side?

David: It still makes me angry to have lost that final. It's a wound that's always going to be there because there's no way of going back and playing it again. And I think that it [the wound] is not going to close until we win [the Davis Cup] one day. Because if we win it now, I'd say, "this should've been the second time, not the first one". Incredible that we lost that tie.

Q: Now there are not too many players...

David: I think that the incredible phase that Argentina had is over. The one with Coria, myself, Gaudio, Puerta, Cañas, Calleri, Chela... There were seven, eight of us, five in the Top 10 or close to it and the others were [ranked] 20, 22, 25... Twice in Davis Cup, we had [a team of] four Top 10 players. That's not something that happens in the world all the time. Now, obviously, Juan Martin is not having the best moment [in his career], I'm coming back, Pico is getting better but still struggling a bit on fast surfaces. Basically, I think what Argentina is lacking is a good doubles, to be able to say, "we have two good singles players, we take the best two at the moment and form a doubles team that has a real chance to beat anybody, anywhere". Throughout my career, I ended up playing it all and I always ended up worn out.

Q: The doubles is the weakest link, these days?

David: These days we don't have a doubles like that, other than Mayer doing well in doubles, and Zeballos and Schwank too... They're my teammates and I love them but they're not a doubles like Llodra/Benneteau or the Bryans. There's no doubles team that can keep up with those pairs.

Q: There's not what you're looking for?

David: There are no specialists. We no longer have Arnold, Hood, Martin Rodriguez, Etlis. There's no team that plays together on the Tour. Schwank and Zeballos played together because they happened to be at the same tournament and then they played together a little. For me, the ideal thing right now would be if the captain picks two players and insists that they play doubles together as much as they can so that they can consolidate [their doubles game] in order to get to best possible level.

Q: Have you talked about 2011?

David: No. There should be a meeting about the Davis Cup at the start of the new year. The reality ends up being that we get to see each other two days before a tie. So it's difficult to make plans and do things in advance, so you can coordinate tournaments and form a doubles that gets a number of matches.

Q: Have you spoken to Tito Vázquez since those problems in France?

David: So far, we didn't get together. I'm hoping that we'll get together to see how we're going to do these things. But everything is fine with [me and] him.

Q: Are you having your say with the decisions?

David: The captain makes the decisions. I try to give my teammates confidence, in order to try and win. Many of the ties I would've played differently but the captain decided something else. Not just the current captain, others as well.

Q: Let's move on to the present day. After a season 2010 with interruptions, how are you?

David: Fine, I finished this year that was cut short because of injuries very well. But in the second half [of the season] I had more continuity. Regardless of the results, I'm able to have the regularity and the confidence to know that 2011, I can deal with a much more serious and regular schedule. Because this year, I planned a schedule and played only half of it. So I finished [the season] healthy and with a normal degree of fatigue.

Q: You've said that you want to finish inside the Top 10. Do you think you're on the same level as Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray?

David: The four best players in the world are a step ahead. Especially physically. They play lots of tournaments and always make the finals. For me, with my hip surgery, it's difficult to have the same kind of rhythm. I have to be more careful with planning my schedule. But from #5 to #15, players have the same level. Among those I can be.

Q: Let's look ahead at the future. On the first [of January], you'll turn 29. For the rest of your career, what's going to be more important, the ranking, a Grand Slam or the Davis Cup?

David: I have two, three more years left. I don't want to retire without having won the Davis Cup. It is my obsession, something special. It's the only title Argentina is still lacking in tennis. It would be incredible for the AAT, with all its shortcomings, to be able to say, "tennis has won all the titles at the international level". A Grand Slam is great as well but Argentina already has a few of those.
Well, that's it for the moment.
Time for Vamos David to take a break now until the Summer Cup exhibition at Punta del Este, which will start for David on the 27th with his "semifinal" match against Thomaz Bellucci. (At 9pm local/8pm Argentina/11pm GMT/6pm EST, live on ESPN+; whether there's going to be a stream - we'll see.) A first look at the stadium being prepared here, courtesy of Tamar (thanks).
Until then it's...

Happy holidays, everybody! :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Copa Argentina: A Look back at David's Victory



On Sunday night, David's old series at the Copa Argentina ended. Ever since 2005, David had won the Copa Argentina every other year, including last year (when winning it crowned the exhibition stage of his comeback). This time, however, David defended his Copa Argentina title for the first time, beating Juan "Pico" Monaco 6-3, 7-6(5) in the final.

As there was no stream, I wasn't able to watch the match. Therefore, all I can tell you is that the whole of the Argentine press agrees - it was a great final, a great match. And a serious one, played pretty much without the joking and the laughter we saw earlier on (especially against Safin). What I can gather from the reports is that David's backhand was once again working extremely well, that he went down the lines a lot but that he also used drop-shots, and apparently used them well. While it was his forehand that leaked errors. But the biggest surprise seems to have been how effective his serve was. And that's definitely good news. (Sources: Olé, Clarin and Cancha Llena)

The complete trophy ceremony you can take a look at here.
Tamar has apparently not yet uploaded her photos from the final. I'll link them here when she does.

The ESPN website has a clip with a couple of great rallies in much better quality and their post-match interview with David (towards the end of the video). I can't embed the clip but you can watch it here.

And here's a summary of what David says in the interview...
Exhibitions are great for gaining rhythm and match practice. And this was a very good exhibition match. He's happy with the way he played and that the crowd loved the match. The final was much more serious than his match against Marat and winning in Argentina is always very nice, whether it's an exhibition or a real tournament.
Hopefully 2011 will be a good year, you never know whether there'll be injuries but staying healthy is an important objective for the next year. And obviously, so is the Davis Cup. All in all, 2010 was a good year, despite the difficult first half but it ended well and so now he's confident about 2011 and has his expectations, he wants to play, wants to face some nice challenges again. He has 2-3 years left on the Tour and he wants to make the most of them.
As for the Australian Open, he can't say right now whether he can make it to the quarterfinal or semifinal but the important thing is to be seeded at Slams, to have easy matches in the first rounds, and especially at the Australian Open because of the heat. He'll have to see how it goes, his goal is to give the best that he can and hopefully make it to the second week.


(Telam)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Copa Argentina: David beats Safin, tonight Final vs Pico


(El Diario24)

Update II
In tonight's final, David defeated Juan "Pico" Monaco 6-3, 7-6(5) to win the Copa Argentina for the fourth time (after 2005, 2007 and 2009).

More soon...



(photo by Tamar)

There were some rallies last night that were reminiscent of the matches David and Marat Safin played back in the days when the Russian was still playing on the ATP Tour. But there was also a lot that was very different. From David being the overall more solid and effective server to the exchanging of comments and the occasional laughter that accompanied David's 6-4, 7-5 victory.

Whether it was Safin, asking David with a smile if he was now serving stronger (David's reply, also with a smile: "A little bit..."). Or David trying to taunt Safin into committing another double fault. The match was played in a very friendly atmosphere but that didn't stop its two protagonists from treating their audience to some spectacular rallies. And for my part, I simply enjoyed the sight of David and Marat Safin together on the court again.

Asked after the match whether he'd prefer to play against Juan "Pico" Monaco or James Blake in the final, David's answer was clear - Pico. And David got what, or rather who he wanted - in the second match of the night, Pico defeated James Blake 6-2, 6-4 for the remaining spot in tonight's final.

The rest of Tamar's photo's from last night, you'll find here.

Tonight, first of all Carlos Moya's farewell match will take place at 7pm local (10pm GMT, 5pm EST). As I've just read on the Twitters of Fue Buena and Danny Miche, Gaston Gaudio will not be able to play, due to an injury. Instead, Guillermo "Willy" Cañas, who also recently announced his retirement, will be Moya's opponent.
Afterwards, at 8.30pm (11.30pm GMT, 6.30pm EST) - the final of this year's Copa Argentina, David vs Pico.

Update
LiveScoreHunter and Atdhe.fm had a stream for it listed - but not anymore.
I have no idea what's going there.
If anyone finds a stream, please post it in the comments.
Moya has defeated Cañas 4-6, 6-1 and 7-2 in the tiebreak they played instead of a third set.
Next up now - the final David vs Pico.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Copa Argentina: David vs Marat Safin


(photo by Tamar)

Update
David has defeated Marat Safin 6-4, 7-5 to reach the final of the Copa Argentina.
There, he will meet Juan "Pico" Monaco (just like in the final of the Copa Almirante Brown last week), who beat James Blake 6-2, 6-4 in the second match of the night.
The final will take place at 8.30pm (11.30pm GMT/ 6.30 EST) on Sunday, after Carlos Moya's farewell match against Gaston Gaudio.

The match is now available via David on Screen (thanks, Krystle).

More tomorrow.


Around two months ago, David appeared on the TV show "Pura Quimica" and one of the questions he was asked was which player he found it difficult to play against, whose game could cause him trouble. David's reply: "Safin..."
- Of course he was referring to the battles the two of them used to have when Safin was still playing on the Tour (with the Russian winning six out of their nine encounters).

By now, the situation is a different one, with Safin having retired from professional tennis a year ago. And last night, he was only able to keep up with Chela for one set (Chela won 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-1). Safin is playing this event without any real preparation and basically just to have some fun. While for David, it's a chance to test his game and the progress he's making with his preparations for the next season. Apart from that, making another Copa Argentina final would certainly be very nice...

The match David vs Marat Safin is scheduled for 8.30pm tonight (11.30pm GMT/6.30pm EST).
Streams for it are announced on LiveScoreHunter and Atdhe.fm.
But it looks like there could be more rain in Buenos Aires today (which already delayed and eventually cut short last night's play). We'll have to wait and see if the match can take place as planned. I'll try my best to keep you posted.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Copa Argentina: David beats Chela - Review


(La Mañana de Cordoba)

Update (18/12)
After Juan Ignacio Chela beat Marat Safin 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-1 last night, play had to be suspended at the BALTC because of rain. According to the event's website, the match Monaco vs Fish has been postponed to 5pm today.

David's match against Marat Safin is still scheduled for 8.30pm (11.30pm GMT/6.30pm EST) tonight but it looks like there's going to be more rain...
I'll try to keep you posted.


"It was tough. It was really tough." That was the first thing David said about this match after it was over. And it's true, this was the first real test David has had to face since the end of the season. The Copa Argentina may be just an exhibition event. But it's still about more than just playing a couple of nice and entertaining rallies to entertain the crowd. And so it turned out to be quite a battle that David had to fight before he eventually managed to beat Juan Ignacio Chela 7-6(4), 6-4.

Before David, soaked in sweat from the the second game onwards, knew what was happening, he was already down a break at the start of the match. Chela defended well and in the early stages of the match he played with more accuracy, depth and speed than David, who seemed surprised by Chela's level of play. Apart from that, Chela kept attacking and punishing David's second serve, which he (and we) got a lot to see of last night. Still, David managed to find - and fight - his way back into the match and towards the end of the first set he saved a total of 6 set points (3 when Chela was serving for it at 5-3, 3 further ones when David went down 0-40 in the following game) before converting his very first set point in the eventual tiebreak.
At the start of the second set, David immediately broke Chela (for 2-0) but the match was still close and especially the second set saw lots of hard-fought baseline rallies, as well as some well-constructed points from David. Halfway through the set, Chela broke back (for 4-3) and they were back on serve. Serving to save the match at 5-4 David, Chela gifted David two match points with a double fault and then David chose the perfect moment to hit his only return winner of the night - 6-4.
"It was very tough match. He's playing very well and I hope the two of us will have a good year 2011, primarily with regards to the physical aspect, because that's where the [good] results come from." (Source.)
In his post-match interview David repeated that he's currently feeling rather tired because of his preparations for the next season. But he's looking forward to playing against Marat Safin, a "great player with a great game" - though David doesn't really know what to expect from his opponent, how well Safin will play, a year after retiring from the ATP Tour.

Tamar's photos from last night's match you can find here.

In the second match last night, James Blake defeated Mardy Fish 6-4, 6-4.
Tonight, Chela will play against Safin and Monaco against Fish, while David gets a day off before his match against Safin tomorrow.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Copa Argentina - 'El Rey' David vs 'El Flaco' Chela


(photo by Tamar)

Update
David has won his first match at this year's Copa Argentina, defeating Juan Ignacio Chela 7-6(4), 6-4. After coming back from 5-2 down in the first set and saving six set points.
A good match and much more of a test then last weekend's encounters.

The match is available for download via David on Screen.

More soon.


Two years have passed since David last played a match against Juan Ignacio Chela - that was at the Copa Argentina 2008. Back then, the round-robin format had not yet been introduced and David lost to Chela in the first round. Let's just say - it wasn't the best night David ever had at the BALTC.

Now, two years later, David and Chela meet at the Copa Argentina again and both of them can look back on a successful comeback season 2010. (Chela played mostly Challengers last year to get his ranking up again; this season he won Houston and Bucharest and is now ranked #38). And one thing is certain, the atmosphere tonight will be different and better than back in 2008...

Starting time
As for the starting time of tonight's match, different things can now also be found in the press. Some articles state that the match will begin at 8pm local (11pm GMT/6pm EST), while others say that coverage will start not before 8.30pm, including the ESPN website. In other words - we'll have to wait and see.
Any stream I can find I will post here. If you find a stream, please post it in the comments.

Meanwhile, in a new interview for Pagina12, David says that continuity and staying free from further injuries will be of crucial importance for the next season...
"I need more continuity in 2011. And for that it'll be essential that I won't be chased by injuries."
"My goal is to get back inside the Top 10. It was a very erratic season, riddled with physical problems. With those injuries, it's very difficult to achieve some sort of continuity."
While admitting that winning Washington changed his expectations this year:
"Coming back after the injury, the plan was to get inside the Top 30 to be seeded at the Australian Open. But winning Washington changed everything because after that, I was #40. And so you're never satisfied with anything. What happened there was abnormal."
And that when he came back, his hip injury influenced his game plan...
"When I returned to competitive tennis, I tried to play short points. Whenever I had to defend, fight, keep the ball in play during important points I did so, but without taking too much risk. The idea was to play more aggressively. As far as that was possible, the plan was to not suffer the effects of the injury."
The 2010 Davis Cup season David describes as "rather eventful" and the matches he won for the team as "crucial", also because "due to the ranking" he was "fortunate enough to be in the position to clinch those ties" (as the #2 singles player against Sweden and Russia). And he "feels comfortable, playing Davis Cup" but it will need "the whole team 100% fit to be able to win it."

Finally, here's David's take on his eleven-match winning streak...
"It was something unexpected that motivated me to recover completely. Those moments are what allows me to grow, with regard to next year. I want to be among the best of the world again."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Copa Argentina Draw

Today the official press conference took place and the draw was made for this year's Copa Peugeot Argentina de Tenis, with David and the other players (except for James Blake) present.
The Copa Argentina has been part of David's off-season every year since 2004 and he has won it three times so far (2005, 2007 and 2009). Held at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tenis Club (BALTC), which is also home of the Copa Claro (formerly known as Copa Telmex), the exhibition event is played on hardcourt. - A fast hardcourt as the reports so far indicate.
(A first look at the stadium here.)

Like last year, the Copa Argentina will be played in the "Super Six" format. The six players will be split up into two round-robin groups with three players each. The best players of the two groups will meet in the final on Sunday. All matches will be played in the evenings...
Update
Tamar says that the first matches during the round-robin stage start at 8pm local (11pm GMT/6pm EST) but the ESPN website says coverage will start 8.30pm (11.30pm GMT/6.30 EST).

So here's the draw and the order of play for the Copa Argentina (official now and a bit easier to read...)

Group I:
Juan Monaco, Mardy Fish, James Blake

Group II:
David Nalbandian, Marat Safin, Juan Ignacio Chela

Order of Play
(See update above.)

Thursday
David Nalbandian vs Juan Ignacio Chela
James Blake vs Mardy Fish

Friday
Juan Ignacio Chela vs Marat Safin
Juan Monaco vs Mardy Fish

Saturday
David Nalbandian vs Marat Safin
Juan Monaco vs James Blake

Sunday
7pm local: Carlos Moya vs Gaston Gadio
8.30pm local: The Final



Here's a photo of David that Tamar took at today's press conference and draw. You can find more of her photos here.

The matches will be broadcasted live not by TyC Sports (as was the info at first) but by ESPN and ESPN+. I'll do my best to find a stream for David's matches. But again, I'll be grateful for any help.
Apart from that, Tamar will be at the Copa Argentina, so we can look forward to more photos and info from her.

In other news: It's official now (though it was never in doubt), the first-round Davis Cup tie against Romania in March will be held at the Parque Roca. (Source.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

David beats Pico to win the Copa Almirante Brown


(photo by Tamar)

David, seen here with Pico during the trophy ceremony, won the Copa Almirante Brown today, defeating Juan "Pico" Monaco (who won the event last year) 6-0, 7-6(5).
In the first set, Pico made way too many unforced errors to allow for competetitive or entertaining rallies. And David's attempts to "destroy the net" (which had to be repaired three times) pretty much provided the only laughs. In the second set however, Pico raised his game and among occasional laughter and joking, the two of them played a set of very entertaining tennis.

In his post-match interview, David said that the second set was very good and that both he and Pico enjoyed it very much. He repeated that he's in the middle of his preparations for the new season but that playing exhibition matches is useful for gaining rhythm. Asked about the 2011 season, he stressed that his health will be the most important factor and that he hopes he will be able to play more regularly than this year.

Update (14/12)
You can find the complete set of Tamar's photos from the Copa Almirante Brown weekend (spread over several pages) here.


(photo by Tamar)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

David beats Horacio at the Copa Almirante Brown


"Though we're all part of the Davis Cup team and we're friends, with events like this we still keep it competitive." (Source.)
That's what David said at the official presentation of this weekend's Copa Almirante Brown exhibition yesterday. In the end, it was a competetive match but only in the first set: David beat his friend and Davis Cup teammate Horacio Zeballos 7-6(4), 6-1 in an encounter that saw some very entertaining rallies. In tomorrow's final, he'll face Juan Monaco, who defeated Edurado Schwank 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 in the second match of the day.

In his brief on-court interview after the match, David said that he's currently a bit tired because of his training and preparations for the coming season. But he also mentioned that playing this exhibition is providing him with a chance to try out a couple of things and that he felt very good on court. Apart from that, he always enjoys playing in front of his home crowd.
- More quotes and photos soon, if I can find any. For the moment, some bad screencaps are all I can offer you. And there will also be no recording of this match, for technical reasons.

Update II (12/12)
More photos from the match now on the new photo page (thanks, Tamar!).

Update
Here's a quote from David, from after the match.
"It was nice. Matches like this are good for fine-tuning a lot of things. It was tough because the two of us played a good first set. In the second, I took the chances I got and I was able to build a good lead." (TyC Sports)
So - tomorrow match two at the Copa Almirante Brown exhibition for David.
The final David vs Pico will start at 12pm local (3pm GMT/10am EST).


(Olé; from yesterday's presentation of the event)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

David to play first Exhibition this Weekend

Update III (10/12)
According to this site, David will face Horacio Zeballos in the first match of the Copa Almirante Brown exhibition tomorrow at 11am local (2pm GMT/9am EST).


As confirmed on the official site, David is going to play his first exhibition this weekend. The Copa Almirante Brown is the smallest one of the three exhibition events he has scheduled for this month. It'll take place at the Club San Albano in Burzaco, in the Buenos Aires province. And it will see a reunion of the Argentine Davis Cup team as it appeared in Lyon: Apart from David, Juan Monaco, Horacio Zeballos and Eduardo Schwank are going to play.
So far, it hasn't been easy to find out more about this event and there's no website for it. But thanks to the official site, I'm now able to tell you a little more about David's plans for the coming weekend.
There'll be two "semifinal" matches on Saturday (the specific match-ups are apparently not clear yet) and then the final on Sunday. On Saturday, play will start at 11am local (2pm GMT/9am EST), while Sunday's final will begin at 12pm local (3pm GMT/10am EST).
The matches will be broadcasted live on Argentine channel TyC Sports. Any help with finding a stream will be very much appreciated.

There's also news about the Copa Argentina, which will begin on Thursday, next week. According to Danny Miche, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Marcos Baghdatis have all pulled out. Which would mean - half of the six-player field. Who will take their places remains to be seen. Still on the list: David, Juan Monaco and Marat Safin.

Update
Monfils, Gasquet and Baghdatis will be replaced by Juan Ignacio Chela, James Blake and Mardy Fish, according to a new article by Telam, citing the event's organisers as their source.

Meanwhile, the official presentation of next year's tournament in Buenos Aires took place yesterday. The tournament that used to be called Copa Telmex but will now, due to a new title sponsor, be known as the Copa Claro (as can be seen on the tournament website). Tournament director Martin Jaite confirmed his intentions of changing the event's surface from clay to hardcourt "in the near future" and presented the first few names for next year's edition. Apart from David, Juan Monaco, David Ferrer and Stanislas Wawrinka have already committed to playing. (Clarin.)

Update II
David will also play Acapulco, the organisers announced his participation today. (Reuters Mexico.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Look back at David's Comeback Season

A year ago, David was preparing for the Copa San Juan Minero exhibition, his first public appearance on a tennis court after surgery. And nobody, not even David, really knew what to expect of his comeback and the 2010 season. Nor for how much longer he'd continue to be around on the Tour, in case things didn't work out so well...
"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'." (Olé)
Now, twelve months, a 28-10 match record for the season, a Washington title and the longest winning streak of his career later, it's safe to say that David can still win something and that he'll be around for a little longer. And perhaps, that's the most important result of this season. - A rather mixed season that had a bit of everything. From the initial injury problems to David's run during the US hardcourt swing. From glory to disaster in Davis Cup.
Here's my personal (and not necessarily comprehensive) look back at David's comeback season 2010.

A comeback match with difficulties...
It was supposed to happen at Auckland but in the end, another month later and 287 days after his last official match in 2009, David made his comeback at the Copa Telmex. And maybe, there couldn't have been a more appropriate place. Or a warmer welcome than the one he got at the BALTC. But then, 47 minutes into his long-awaited comeback match against Starace, this happened... I remember how frustrated I was when the match had to be suspended. And back then, it seemed impossible to wait until the next day for it to be finished. Little did I know that two days later, the Copa Telmex would be over for David because of a new injury. Or how much more waiting would be ahead, during the rest of the season...

"Desgarro" & "Isquiotibial izqiuerda"
I.e. (muscular) tear and left hamstring. Spanish words I wasn't familiar with before - but came to dread, this season. Seeing them far to often in connection with David during the first half of the year. It began with the abdominal tear he picked up at Auckland. Then the tear in his right adductor muscle he suffered at the Copa Telmex. And finally the problems with his left hamstring and the three-month pause after Monte Carlo. There are Spanish words and phrases I've really grown fond of, like the expressions David loves to use. Let's just say that those two are not among them and I hope I won't see them again, anytime soon.

Monte Carlo
Despite the way it ended, for me David's run to the quarterfinal at Monte Carlo was where for the first time I really thought - he's back! At that time, the injuries seemed to be under control (or at least they did until the quarterfinal) and after the problems he had already had until this stage of the season, Monte Carlo was the first tournament where I was able to watch him play without fearing for his health the entire time. And while the victory over Beck was to be expected, the battle against Youzhny was a first highlight of the season for me. And even more so when David followed it up with an easy win over Robredo. Those were a couple of matches I enjoyed, thinking that great things were ahead.

Washington and the winning streak
Imagine David is having a monster run at a tournament - and you can't watch it... Though I have to say that staying up late just to watch the scoreboard has never been as rewarding as it was during the early rounds at Washington. Especially when David beat his nemesis Wawrinka. From the quarterfinal onwards, there was coverage and David's wins over Simon, Cilic and finally Baghdatis to marvel at. And all of that at an event that had been a last-minute addition to his schedule. But if there's one thing that can rightfully be said about David then it's that he's always good for a surprise. And even more so, since this time, he didn't go out early after winning a title. Instead, David went on what would become the longest winning streak of his career, beating Ferrer, Robredo and Söderling before losing to Murray in the quarterfinal at Toronto. A run that took its toll on David. But also proof that now, after surgery, he's still able to set new records.

Copa Davis - "una locura"...
I think this year was the first time I heard David referring to his Davis Cup shenanigans as "madness", himself. Not that it kept him from undertaking his last-minute rescue mission to Stockholm. Where he won the doubles with Zeballos and eventually clinched the tie for his team. A costly victory, as it was during this tie that his hamstring problems began. Still, it was a triumph and David the national hero. - Just like in Moscow, where coming back from a three-month pause David beat both Davydenko and Youzhny (again to clinch the tie). A glorious Davis Cup year for David, or so it seemed - until Lyon. After losing to Monfils, David caused a scandal with his statements about Tito Vázquez and then abandoned ship before the tie was over. For me, that was the low point of this season. Because if you want to be the boss on the team, the very least you can do is to be there and take responsibility - especially if things aren't going well.

In other news...
The 'taxi driver incident' in January takes the prize for the weirdest news I had to report this year. (Full story here.) That we haven't heard anything from Antonio Simes or his assault charges against David ever since makes me think that either Simes changed his mind or the matter was resolved outside of the courtroom.
And if some of you are wondering what happened to David's terracotta statue (that he didn't get to see in Shanghai), well, it was put to some good use - at the Argentine pavilion at the Shanghai EXPO 2010.

Famous last words
I remember how before the start of this season, I kept wondering whether it would still be the same old David I'd get to see this year. Or whether surgery and the long pause that followed had maybe changed him in some sort of way. Now, at the end of his comeback season, I can say - no, he hasn't changed. He's still the same old David. Maybe he's more fragile and more prone to injuries and exhaustion than he used to be. Then again, that's something that had to be expected, I think. But he still has the same old strengths and weaknesses. He still plays the kind of tennis I love. And for me, that's what matters.

(photo credits in order of appearance: Sergio Llamera/Copa Telmex, AP Photo, Streeter Lecka/Getty Images, Arne Forsell/Davis Cup website)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A very brief Update...

Update (30/11)
David will begin the 2011 season at Auckland.
I just found his name on the tournament's entry list.


With David presumably still on holiday, the only piece of info I have for you at the moment is that, not surprisingly perhaps, his name is not to be found on any of the entry lists for Doha, Chennai or Brisbane. So it looks like the first week of the new season will once again take place without David.
Whether he'll be playing during the second week (Sydney or Auckland), or maybe prepare for the Australian Open at Kooyong is not clear yet. I'll keep you posted.

Two weeks from now, David will play the first of his three exhibitions he has scheduled for December. But before the focus will be on those, I'll take a look back at David's 2010 season - soon to come on VD.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"A Decade of Moments"



No news for me to report at the moment. All is quiet on the David-front...
In the meantime, you can join David on the little trip down memory lane that Argentine sports channel ESPN took him on (thanks, Tamar for the tip) as part of their "A Decade of Moments" series to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their show "Sportscenter".

Clicking on the screencap above will open the page with the video in a new window/tab. There, you can play the clip (which looks a bit distorted, apparently stretched from 4:3 to 16:9 format; I took the liberty of ironing that out with the screencaps here). It shows David, discussing some of the most important and memorable moments of his career over the last ten years.
Here's a summary of what he says in the clip...

The change from junior to pro
One of the most difficult things in tennis, there are lots of talented juniors but turning pro makes a huge difference; with some it happens fast, with others it takes more time, with some it never happens. It took him a year to adapt; he turned pro together with Coria, who was faster at making that transition.

The year 2002 & the Wimbledon final

A very good year for him, moving up in the rankings and winning his first ever title at Estoril. And also making the final at Wimbledon, which was a great leap forward in terms of his career; he was ranked around #30 [#32] going into the tournament, moved up afterwards [to #15] and finished the year ranked #12. At first, it looked like he was going to have an extremely tough draw at Wimbledon, with matches against Sampras in the third and Agassi in the fourth round but both lost before he could meet them. And he was very bad in training, unable to adjust to the conditions. He didn't like it and thought he couldn't beat anybody. One day in practice, he was playing points with Franco Squillari and he couldn't seem to win a single point, he thought it was going to be a disaster. But then he played more, started to play better and to feel better during his matches, and apart from that the draw opened up for him. And he took his chance. The match against Arthurs [R4] was tough but he was playing well. It was an incredible tournament and he never thought he'd go that far.

That elusive Slam title...
He got close on several occasions, having reached semis at all four Slams. In the 2006 semifinal at Roland Garros against Federer he was playing well but then an abdominal strain forced him to retire. He thinks he could've won that match. In the Australian Open semi 2006 against Baghdatis he was up 2-0 sets and a break in the fifth, another match he could've won, another final he could've made. He came close but the reality is that reaching a Slam final (and winning it) is extremely difficult and you're up against very good players.

The Masters Cup Shanghai 2005
Winning the Masters Cup was very important because it's a great and unforgettable title to have won. Also because of the special circumstances. He had gone fishing, as he didn't qualify directly and didn't think he'd go to Shanghai and then the ATP called and asked whether he could come as an alternate but at first, they couldn't confirm whether he'd get to play or not. And he hadn't been training at all and didn't really know whether he wanted to do it. But then he decided to go. While he was in Paris, on his way from Buenos Aires to Shanghai, the ATP called again and said that Roddick had pulled out, so he knew he'd get to play. At first, he didn't feel good on court, without real training. But he started feeling good in the round-robin match against Federer, although he lost it. Then he started gaining confidence and the final against Federer was incredible. He lost the first two sets 6-7 and was down two sets to love but he kept playing on a high level, while Federer's dropped a bit. In the fifth set Federer played well again and it was an amazing final. His girlfriend and his mother were there. Winning that title was absolutely spectacular.

Shanghai post-match interview
Yes, the most important title of his career, the kind of title you don't to win every day, this kind of event you get only once per year and it's really very important.
(Asked if he wants to be/can imagine being the #1) That's what everybody wants, being as high in the rankings as possible and it's certainly a goal but there are very good players like Federer, Nadal, Hewitt, Safin and it's not easy to win all the time. It's very difficult goal to achieve but something to work for.

2010 - the comeback year
It was a difficult year, coming back after an injury, the first half of the season was very complicated with those muscular tears and other physical problems, which is normal after such a long pause. He felt good and did very well during the US hardcourt swing but at the end of it he felt very, very tired and had some pains but it was mostly exhaustion. He'll try to learn from that, planning his season next year, avoiding such long series of tournaments.
He's not the kind of guy to sit at home and do nothing. He'll always go for some activity or other, that's what ne heeds, for himself, for his head. And he's not like those athletes who end their career and then don't know what to do with themselves, as has certain things that interest him.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

David receives Konex de Platino Award


(photo by Tamar)

Update III (20/11)
The ATP World Tour Award for the Comeback Player of the Year 2010 (which David was nominated for and which is voted by the players) goes to Robin Haase.


David has been awarded the "Konex de Platino" by the Fundación Konex, honouring his achievements and role in Argentine sports in the last decade. The foundation's awards are given to Argentine athletes, as well as public figures from a variety of other fields.

The jury, presided over by Gabriela Sabatini, selected five Argentine athletes with outstanding achievements in the last decade from 20 different sports (ranging from tennis and football to rugby, polo and sports for the disabled) to receive a so-called "Diploma al Mérito". For tennis, the five selected players were: David, Guillermo Coria, Gaston Gaudio, Juan Martin Del Potro and Paola Suárez.
Out of those five, one athlete in each of the 20 different sports was singled out for the Konex de Platino award. And in the tennis category, the award went to David. (His friend Adolfo Cambiaso picked up the one for polo and Lionel Messi won it in the football category.) While basketball star Manu Ginobili was crowned Argentine athlete of the last decade. (Source: Clarin/DyN.)

Update
Tamar (thanks!) was able to attend the awards ceremony last night. You'll find more of her photos on the new photo page.

Update II (17/11)
From David's (i.e. his official site's) Twitter:
I thank the Fundación Konex for bestowing the Konex de Platino award on me.
I dedicate it to my family for their support throughout my career.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What's ahead - A Look at David's Off-Season


(EFE)

Update (15/11)
David finishes this season with 1480 ranking points - the exact same number as Juan Monaco. But since Pico did better at the big events (i.e. Slams and Masters), he has the edge over David in the rankings and finishes the year as Argentina's #1 (at #26), while David is now ranked #27.

So, the last official match of the season has been played. And now it's time for the off-season again - both for David and for this blog. But what does that mean for the coming weeks?
Of course I'll be keeping an eye on the Argentine press and I'll post what news and interviews I find. There will be several requests for interviews from the Argentine newspapers/sites, we'll see how many of those David will agree to do. And perhaps he'll also agree to some TV and radio appearances. - I'll try my best to keep track of all that.

Apart from that, David will play three exhibitions in December.
Here's when, where and who else is going to play:

Copa Almirante Brown
(Dec 11/12)
This event will see a reunion of the Davis Cup team (Lyon edition): David, Juan Monaco, Horacio Zeballos and Eduardo Schwank will play at the Club San Albano in Burzaco (Buenos Aires province). As the matches will be shown live on Argentine TV channel TyC Sports, there's a good chance that there will also be a stream.

Copa Peugeot Argentina de Tenis (Dec 16-19)
The Copa Argentina, held at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club (home also of the Copa Telmex), is by far the biggest one of these three events and traditonally part of David's off-season schedule. Here's the field for this year's edition: David, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Juan Monaco, Marat Safin and Marcos Baghdatis. TyC Sports will also show all Copa Argentina matches.

Copa Tenis Conrad (Dec 27/28)
His last exhibition of the year, David will play at the Resort & Casino Conrad in Punta del Este, Uruguay. It's not yet clear whether there'll be coverage of this event. But what is clear is that David will be joined by Thomaz Bellucci, Gaston Gaudio and Marat Safin.

I'll cover these events (and I'll get help from Tamar, who will be at the Copa Argentina and also in Uruguay for the Copa Tenis Conrad). Apart from that it's going to get a bit more quiet here on Vamos David now... But only a little bit.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Goodbye 2010 - David loses to Murray


(Highlights by Andvari, thanks; Noubar's highlights you can watch here.)
"It's never great to lose but that's the way it is."
It began with a set of perfect tennis but it ended in defeat: David's 2010 season came to its end today with a loss against Andy Murray, who, after just under two hours, converted his first match point for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory. After David completely dominated proceedings in the first set, a change of tactics helped Murray to get back into the match - and eventually win it.

The first set of this match saw what was arguably the best tennis David has played since surgery. And it also saw some incredible serving from him (80% first serves isn't really the kind of stat you get to see that often with David - if at all). In my pre-match post, I wrote that David would have to be prepared to do cover a lot of ground. But in this first set, it was Murray who had to do all the running, as David completely outplayed him from the baseline. Setting up points basically at will, with angled shots or by going down the lines. Breaking Murray's serve twice in this set (for 2-1 and 4-1) and losing only 3 points on serve, David closed it out to love, converting his first set point with an ace.

At the start of the second set, Murray then changed his tactics to serve and volley - a decision that would turn out to be decisive for this match. While Murray's stats on serve didn't really improve, he now no longer had any difficulties, holding serve. David didn't have a break point in this set and his level now began to drop, with more errors creeping into his game. But he was still solid enough on serve to not get in any trouble. Until at 5-4 for Murray, David had to serve to stay in the set. Until that moment, David's unforced errors count had been on the rise, but it had been a fairly moderate rise. At that moment, however, and probably also "helped" by a series of let calls David found not amusing at all, a series of unforced errors cost him his serve. And the second set.

In the third set, David now seemed increasingly tired and, at the beginning of it, still a bit out of sorts because of the way he had lost the previous set. Still, he managed to stay out of trouble on serve. But he couldn't find a way of doing any damage in his return games. At 2-2, Murray did something to his wrist while returning a shot from David. What followed was a medical timeout that David has his own opinion about.
"It's a pity that Andy cries too much on court. If you hurt your wrist and can't play tennis then you have to stop and get off the court."
But Murray stayed on the court. And at first, it seemed like the several-minute pause did David some good. As he now managed to play a couple of points that were reminiscent of the first set. But Murray remained unassailable on serve, always coming up with great serves when he needed them (David also didn't have a break point in the third set). Then, at 4-3 Murray, the moment came for David's second bad service game and the one that cost him the match. Making three errors in a row and going down 0-40, he saved two break points before sending another forehand into the net (and then getting a code violation for hitting the ball into the stands). After that, Murray quickly served it out to love.

In David's words:
"It was a tough match, I started very well but Murray raised his game, changed his tactics to serve and volley and it worked. He played very well and I didn't serve well in the last two sets, that's what probably made the difference."
I would add that he also didn't move well in the last two sets and that this played an important role in the increasing number of unforced errors that he made, mostly because of his deteriorating footwork. (Set1: 3 UEs, set2: 10, set3: 11.) And those unforced errors were once again what ended up costing him his serve and, eventually, the match.

So - that was it now. David's season 2010 is over. Time for a quick look back:
"It was a strange year because of the injuries. But in the second half of the season I felt good because I was able to compete on a regular basis. I'm quite happy about what I've achieved this year." (David's quotes: Olé)
- And I think he has every right to be happy. I'll be taking a more detailed look back at David's "strange year" in the weeks to come.
But for now it's - goodbye 2010.


(Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paris R2 - David vs Andy Murray


(Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Update
After initially treating us to a set of flawless tennis, David has lost his second-round match against third seed Andy Murray, who prevailed 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
So that was it for 2010, this was David's last official match of the season.
(Though he has a couple of interesting exhibitions scheduled for December.)

Photos from the match are now up.
And the match can be downloaded via David on Screen.

More soon...



(AP Photo/Getty Images; montage VD)

There are certain match-ups that seem to promise an exciting match. In the case of David and Andy Murray, that reputation is mostly based on the last time they met at the Paris Masters. Back in in 2008, Murray came to Bercy, fresh from winning two titles in a row (Madrid Masters and St. Petersburg). But although David was struggling with his hip injury at the time, he ended Murray's winning streak in the quarterfinal, beating him in straight sets in what definitely was a very exciting match (watch clip).
The last time the two of them met, however, at Toronto this year, it was David who was on a winning streak going into the match - and ended up losing convincingly in straights (see report and clip). It was Murray's first victory over David, with the match record now at 2-1 (David won their first encounter at Wimbledon 2005).

But the ending of streaks isn't the only similarity between those matches, despite the very different results. Who serves poorly loses - to put it simply. At Paris 2008, Murray paid the price for making only 46% first serves. At Toronto this year, David won far too few points on both first and second serve - the rest is history. Of course the serve always plays an important role and players who serve well also tend to play well. But with two returners of David's and Murray's caliber, the ability to hold serve becomes even more crucial. Therefore, David will have to serve well (and maybe hope that Murray doesn't...) and he'll have to be prepared to cover a lot of ground because chances are there'll be quite a few long, chess-like rallies.

Andy Murray lost to Juan Monaco in the third round at Valencia last week (though he won the doubles title, together with his brother Jamie). He already qualified for the World Tour Final in London. And in a new interview, he said that he's had difficulties before, adjusting to the conditions and the very fast surface at Bercy. Hopefully, it won't be any different, this year.

Paris R1 - Taking the first Hurdle


(Highlights by Andvari - thanks.)

The scoreline suggests that it was an easy victory and that's what it was, though not without some minor "hiccups": In the first round at the Paris Masters, David needed only 66 minutes to beat Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-1. Breaking the Spaniard five times in the course of the match, David lost his serve once - when he was trying to close out the first set. In the second round tomorrow, he will now face third seed Andy Murray.
David's post-match interview you can watch here.

It was a great start that David had into this match, breaking Granollers in the very first game and then going up a double break (and 4-1). David was in control of the match at this stage and when he consolidated his break for a 5-1 lead, he had won the last ten consecutive points. At 5-2, David served for the set. And although he had dropped only 2 points on serve until then, closing it out once more proved to be a problem. David handed over the break with an error-riddled service game but managed to strike back in the following game, breaking Granollers yet again to take the first set 6-3.
At the beginning of the second set, David faced (and saved) another break point and they remained on serve until 2-1. After that, he went up a double break again (though struggling a bit more on his own serve than in the first) and then at 5-1, David served for the match. Again, Granollers had a break point but David saved and then converted his first match point with a bit of serve and volley, 6-1.

What worked extremely well today were David's returns, putting Granollers under constant pressure on serve (and that took its toll; he double-faulted twice at break point). But while his forehand returns were great today, it was once again the forehand that continued to leak errors, especially at the later stages of the match. David played a very clean first set (10 winners, only 6 UEs) but his unforced-errors count almost tripled in the second (12 winners, 16 UEs). I liked it that he came to the net more often than in the past few matches, mixing up his game a bit more. And overall, it was a good match from David and a good start into this tournament. But the problem with closing out sets/the match remains. And tomorrow, Andy Murray will of course provide a very different kind of challenge.

Update
Quotes from David's press conference:
It was the first match and for that I played very well and I'm very happy [about my performance].
I prefer the court to be faster, rather than slower. But it was a lot faster than what would be ideal for me. (MundoD)

(Jaques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Paris R1 - David vs Marcel Granollers


(Lionel Cironneau/AP Photo)

Update

David has won his first match at Paris-Bercy, defeating Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-1 in merely 66 minutes. He'll now face Andy Murray in tomorrow's second round.

Photos from the match are now up.
And the match is available on David on Screen.

More soon...



(Getty Images/AP Photo; montage VD)

Merely two weeks have gone by since David (now ranked #25) last played against Marcel Granollers. Two weeks to the day, actually, since their first-round encounter at Montpellier. There, David beat Granollers 6-4, 6-4. Scoring the second win in his second match against the Spaniard (after Monte Carlo 2009).

When they met at Montpellier, Marcel Granollers was ranked #68. This week, he has moved up to #45, just one place short of his career-high ranking, thanks to his run at Valencia where he finished as runner-up (he lost to Ferrer in the final). It was his first final at a 500 event and his second in total, usually he's more at home, playing clay-court Challengers.

For David, this match means returning to the Court Central at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, a place of great memories (of this match, for example). And whether his opponent will be full of confidence or tired, or maybe both, hopefully David can make a good start at Bercy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Basel QF - Auf Wiedersehen Basel...


(Reuters)

A picture says more than a thousand words. And David's expression here in this photo pretty much sums up his performance today - it took Andy Roddick merely 74 minutes to defeat him 6-4, 6-4.

Playing against a 'serve monster' like Roddick, it's even more important to hold serve as chances are, you'll only get very few chances to break. And one poor service game can be enough to lose a set... David had two of those today, one in the first set (at 2-2), and one in the second set (at 1-1). Both times he went up 30-15 and then made 3 unforced errors in a row to surrender his serve. And those two breaks, both of which David handed over on a silver plate, were enough for Roddick to secure a fairly easy win. After all, he didn't face a single break point in this match.

There were a couple of great points, a couple of good shots from David today. But there were also lots and lots of unforced errors, at first mostly off the forehand but as the match went on, it was also David's backhand that became more and more error-prone. Those errors came in important situations (break point down) but also when he seemed to be in control of the rally. As the match went on, this lack of consistency (and his frustration at not being able to do any damage on return) left its mark on David and his confidence. He didn't really show his frustration on court and it's not clear right now, whether he felt tired from the Cilic match. But towards the end of today's match, Roddick was able to outplay David from the baseline. There was no hope left.
This defeat will hurt and even more so because of the manner in which it happened. In yesterday's post-match interview, David said that reaching the quarterfinal at Basel wasn't good enough for him. Now, it'll have to do. And that's not just Andy Roddick's fault...

Update (6/11)
Match highlights by Andvari (thanks):

Paris Masters Draw

Here's David's draw for next week's Masters event at Paris-Bercy.
David is in Federer's half (which is top half because Rafael Nadal has withdrawn), lower, i.e. Murray's quarter:

[3] Andy Murray (GBR) vs BYE
Marcel Granollers (ESP) vs David Nalbandian (ARG)
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) vs QUALIFIER
BYE vs [13] Marin Cilic (CRO)

[12] Gael Monfils (FRA) vs BYE
Denis Istomin (UZB) vs QUALIFIER
[WC] Arnaud Clement (FRA) vs Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
BYE vs [6] Fernando Verdasco (ESP)

Full draw here.

So David's first-round opponent will be Marcel Granollers - again. Just like in Montpellier, last week. There, David beat Granollers 6-4, 6-4, his second victory over the Spaniard in as many matches. Granollers reached the semifinal at Valencia today. Whether this surprise run will leave him exhausted or inspired - we'll see.
In the second round, an encounter with third seed Andy Murray awaits. David has met Murray before at Paris, in 2008. Back then, David beat Murray in the quarterfinal in a highly entertaining match (see Andvari's highlights clip). This year at Toronto however, Murray booked his first win over David and ended his Washington/Toronto winning streak (match record now 2-1 David).
In the third round, David could meet Marin Cilic again, while his opponent in a hypothetical quarterfinal could be Gael Monfils...

Basel R2 - David vs Andy Roddick

Update
For this year, it's goodbye Basel... David has lost his quarterfinal match against Andy Roddick, who prevailed 6-4, 6-4 after merely 74 minutes. David didn't have a single break point all match.
Next week, he'll play his last tournament of the season, the Paris Masters. The draw will be out later today.

More soon...



(Reuters/AP Photo, montage by VD)

It's almost a bit difficult to believe but the last time these two faced each other on court was all the way back in 2006, at the Masters Cup in Shanghai (see clip). Back then, David beat Roddick in straights, just like he did when they met in the semifinal at Basel in 2003. With their first three matches, however, it was Roddick who prevailed. And among those three was the big one - the US Open semifinal 2003. The defeat that put an end to what many believe was the best chance David ever had of winning a Slam. Made even more bitter by how close David came to winning this match. (A clip of the infamous third-set tiebreak you'll find here.)

Andy Roddick briefly dropped out of the Top 10 for the first time since 2006 lately but has by now made it back to #9 again. Having won the titles at Brisbane and Miami earlier this year, he recently had to retire in the second round at Shanghai because of a groin injury. At Basel however, he has won both of his matches (against Querrey and Golubev) in straights.

The question is of course whether David will find a way of handling Roddick's serve. But also whether it'll be the David from the first set against Cilic, or the one from the second and third set yesterday we'll get to see. - Today's match will provide the answer.

Update
And today, we'll also get to know what David's draw for next week's Masters event at Paris-Bercy will look like. According to the tournament website, the draw will be pulled at 6.30pm CET today. I'll post it after the match.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Basel R2 - David downs Cilic... again


(Highlights by Andvari - thanks; you can download the match via David on Screen)

Update
Here's a link to David's post-match interview for TennisTV.

It was a lot closer than their previous matches but David has managed to keep his perfect record against Marin Cilic, defeating him 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in just under two hours. In the quarterfinal tomorrow, he'll now face Andy Roddick, seeded fourth at this event. David (who has a 2-3 match record against Roddick) hasn't faced the American since 2006.

Once again catching a rather slow start, David immediately lost his serve (after having a break point in Cilic's first service game) and went down 2-0. At 4-2, Cilic gifted the break back with a poor game. But when David served to save the set at 5-4, a couple of unforced errors cost him his serve and the first set.
In the second set, David broke to go up 3-2. Now much more solid on serve, he carried the break through the set, eventually, at 5-4, serving it out to 15.
The third set began with the one break of serve for David that would prove to be decisive. Though at 3-1, David had altogether 4 chances to go up a double break - but wasted all of them. Finally, serving at 5-4, David closed out the match to love.

After having comprehensively lost both of their previous meetings, Cilic seemed to try a different approach this time, playing much more aggressively and taking more risk with his shots to keep David from dictating the rallies. And early on in the match it worked because Cilic was making only few errors and he was serving too well for David to do much damage with his returns.
David on the other hand started out serving and playing rather poorly and not moving well. But as the match went on, he "woke up"; he managed to stabilise his serve (he didn't face a single break point in the second and third set) and found the range on his groundstrokes. Exposing Cilic's forehand (his much weaker wing), playing with great depth to take time away from the Croat and also using the slice (which also worked well at Washington). And just like against Hajek, David served out the match to love.

The first set wasn't pretty but David's level improved during the match, which also indicates that he's fit and had enough left in the tank at the latter stages of it. Whether it'll be enough against Roddick - we'll find out tomorrow.


(Julian Finney/Getty Images)