Sunday, July 11, 2010
David vs Youzhny - Review
(Highlights by Andvari - thanks! The match is now available on the David on Screen page, thanks to Krystle for the recording.)
Before the start of this quarterfinal, Tito Vázquez said that the way to win this tie would be to win the doubles - and David winning his two singles. And I will admit that I had my doubts about this, not knowing what kind of level to expect from David, after nearly three months away from the Tour. It's not that I ever doubted his commitment to the Davis Cup. No one who takes any kind of interest in the tennis player David Nalbandian can. But I wasn't sure whether he would be able to play as well as would be needed. Or as well as he was expecting it from himself. But by now, all of these doubts are forgotten, as David has once again shown that whenever he's playing Davis Cup - nothing is impossible...
Not even ending Russia's fifteen-year streak of winning home ties.
Here's what David had to say after the match. (Davis Cup website; in English, mp3)
And here's the link to a video of a slightly bemused David, facing the Russian press together with Tito Vázquez at the post-match press conference (thanks, Anonymous).
An attempt at a summary...
Once more, it was a bit of a nervy start from David, and understandably so, given the importance of the match. Whereas against Davydenko David had played very aggressively from the start, this time he didn't take as much risk at first. Which led to longer rallies, during which David initially often found himself under pressure, due to the depth of Youzhny's groundstrokes. In the early stages of the match, it was indeed the Russian who dictated most of the rallies. And at 2-2 and on David's serve, he held the first break points of the match. But David saved both and managed to hold in the end and make it 3-2. At this stage of the match, David was visibly frustrated with his performance. Between points, he kept berating either himself or the chair umpire Louise Engzell, as there were quite a few linecalls David disagreed with. Still, they remained on serve, without any further break points, although Youzhny seemed to have less trouble than David, holding serve. - Until at 6-5, with Youzhny serving again to stay in the set, an amazing angled backhand earned David his first two break points of the match - and at this stage, set points. What happened next I can't say because that was the exact moment my stream froze on me. By the time it was working again, the two set points were gone and evntually, Youzhny managed to scrape through to take the set to a tiebreak.
David went up a mini-break early on and led 3-1 before losing three points in a row. At 4-4, he managed to get back on track again with a service winner before one of his many great returns today drew the error from Youzhny and at 6-4 gave David 2 further set points. He took the second one, on his own serve, as a forehand from Youzhny found the net. 7-6(5)
But despite winning the first set, David wasn't able to carry the momentum over to the second set. His first service game turned into a lengthy deuce battle that included two further break points for Youzhny. But once again David managed to save both and hold serve. After this tight game (for 1-1) there followed a series of very quick service games, with both players unable to make much of an impact, returning serve. David was serving well, very consistent, but at the same time couldn't seem to do much on return. Again, the set seemed to be heading towards another tiebreak - until at 4-4 and with Youzhny serving, David suddenly managed to raise his level. Throughout this set, he had never managed to win more than a single point per return game. But from 15-15 on, first another great, deep return and then an angled backhand gave him two break points. On the first, he went for too much with his return but on the second, Youzhny made the unforced error. Now up a break and 5-4, David served for the set. The kind of situation where often enough it's time for drama with David... But not this time. A volley winner, a great forehand cross and an ace later, David had 3 set points. And this time, he took the first, playing serve and volley. 6-4
And now, the momentum firmly was on David's side. Leading by two sets now, he showed his best tennis of this weekend. Playing with confidence and therefore able to play with variety, to construct points and finish them at the net. While at the same time still continuing to serve well, never really getting under any pressure on serve. David began the third set by immediately breaking Youzhny's serve and then consolidating his break to love for a 2-0 lead. At 3-1, he managed to take Youzhny to deuce but couldn't find a way of creating more break point opportunities. David's service game at 4-3 was the only one in this set that was a little more tight but David held to 30 and went up 5-3. Serving to stay in the match, at 15-30 Youzhny hit a double fault (David didn't make a single one today), granting David 2 match points. The first one Youzhny was able to save but on the second match point, David's last great return of the day was enough to draw the error from Youzhny. 6-3.
After Friday's match against Davydenko, David was unhappy with his performance. Calling it a "disaster", despite the fact that he won. Today, he should be happy. Not only because he secured Argentina's place in the semifinal. But also because of the way he played, how he was able to take control of the match as it went on and the level of tennis he displayed after such a long pause. And maybe, this tie marks a new beginning for this season.