David's opponent in the first round will be Rik De Voest from South Africa (currently ranked 231). David won their only meeting so far, which took place at Cincy, back in 2006.
The partial order of play for Monday that's out by now indicates that play will start with the bottom half of the draw. For David, who's in the top half, this means that he'll play his first-round match either Tuesday or Wednesday.
As reported on Fue Buena (thanks, Camilia), David practiced with Rafael Nadal at the Arthur Ashe stadium for two hours yesterday, which included a training match. In his article for ESPN Deportes, Jorge Viale describes that match in a little more detail...
The world's no.1 is more solid and faster on his feet than Nalbandian and breaks serve three times (while losing his serve once) to take the first set 6-3. The two players, whose relationship goes beyond the courts, could meet in the quarterfinal as yesterday's draw revealed.In the second set, with the score at 6-3, 5-2 for Nadal, their practice session was cut short due to a microphone test for today's Kid's Day. And apart from that, Maria Sharapova also arrived to claim her practice time at the world's biggest tennis stadium...
Nadal hits the ball with his typical parabola-shaped curve. Nalbandian tries to run as little as possible and closes down the court. Rafa wants his shots to bounce high, moving away from David. David flattens out his shots, allowing the perhaps fastest player on the Tour little time to react.
Without the pressure of the scoreboard (the players asked their coaches for the scores) but with the seriousness of a real test, Nalbandian's and Nadal's play deserves applause. But the practice session on Arthur Ashe takes place "behind closed doors". It's remarkable how many masterful shots the Argentine has to execute in every rally to overcome the champion of Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
With the last round of qualifying still in full sway, it's not yet possible to make any predictions about who David will face in the first round. And I have to admit that out of the players who are still in the draw, around half I've never seen before.
(The more well-known contenders include Mahut, Gicquel, Kendrick, Dancevic and Nishikori.)
But here's a bit more about David's possible opponents after the first round.
In the second round, David could meet either Florent Serra or Florian Mayer (Serra has a 2-0 match record against Mayer). It would be David's first meeting with Serra (#65), a clay-courter whose best results this season have been two semifinals at clay Challengers. On hardcourt, Serra hasn't been able to get past the third round anywhere this year and he failed to make through qualies at Toronto and Cincy.
Against Florian Mayer (#44), David has played twice, beating him easily on both occasions, apparently having no difficulties with Mayer's unorthodox way of playing. Although it has to be said that almost five years have passed since their last encounter (Basel 2005). Mayer recently had a good run at Hamburg (making semis) but hasn't really done too well since then, losing in the first round at Cincy and the third round at New Haven, earlier this week.
Should David make it to the third round, chances are that there, he'd meet Fernando Verdasco (#8). The Spaniard won their only encounter so far (the "tanked match" at Wimbledon 2006) and interestingly enough, they haven't met since. After doing well during the clay-court season, Verdasco posted mixed results, including a first-round loss at Wimbledon against Fognini - now again his opponent in the first round. At both Toronto and Cincy, Verdasco went out in the second round.
I can only say it again - a very good draw for David.
Now we'll have to see what he's able to do with it.
Note: As the old Photo Page has become somewhat huge and difficult to handle, I've added a new one, the Photo Page II to VD. From now on, you'll find the new photos there.