"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.
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)