Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Interview - David on his Comeback and the Davis Cup

Here's a new interview (thanks, Anna), in which a focused and very realistic David talks about his current physical state, his goals for the comeback and the next few months, and the upcoming Davis Cup tie in March. And while there has never really been any doubt that David would do just about anything for the Davis Cup, he has by now had to realize that maybe he'll only get to play one match - or not at all. Something he seems to accept. It looks like his older brother Javier was right when he said that David has matured during the injury pause...
Q: How is the recovery going?

David: We're within the normal time frame for [recovering from] a tear. I still feel discomfort. Not like in the beginning, but I'm still not ready to play [a match], I feel discomfort when I serve, but not when I'm playing. It doesn't make sense to be taking risks now, after having been away from the circuit for eight months.

Q: This might complicate your Davis Cup participation.

David: Look, I don't know, because it's different surfaces. I'll make my comeback on clay and the tie will be played on carpet. I'll arrive there, having played merely two tournaments and I won't have a lot of match practice. Had I been able to return as planned, I would've played more tennis by now, a five-set match or two in Australia. But now I'll be facing five-set matches on a different surface. It's not really ideal. Hopefully, I'll feel spectacular from the start, in Buenos Aires. But it's very rare to start that well.

Q: Have you spoken to the captains, to Tito Vazquez or Rivera?

David: I haven't spoken to them. By the time they came to Auckland, I had already returned [to Argentina]. The thing is that I don't know how I'll be and no matter how much I want to play, maybe I won't be able to. My plan is to play in Buenos Aires and Acapulco, one or two matches at each tournament. What I want is to gain rhythm and match practice, playing competitive tennis, and then be fine the next day because the doctors have told me that I'll be in pain, that I will feel discomfort. At worst, I'll wait until the last minute to see how I am. But they can always count on me for Davis Cup.

Q: Would you go there to play just one single match? Maybe, for example, the fifth rubber on Sunday?

David: I'll do anything to win the tie. I'm willing to do whatever it takes. We'll have to have a clear idea about who gets to play which rubber, which rubbers are winnable, where we can take risks. If I'm my usual self, you know that I want to play everything. The basic question here is how to plan everything with the team, how I feel, how we'll go about trying to win the different rubbers.

Q: You'll come back now with a very low ranking. Does that affect your plans in any way?

David: It won't change much because I'll be defending points the first week, something that, although I'll be playing, will be difficult because I either win the tournament or I'll go down [in the rankings]. I'll get wildcards for various tournaments and if not, I will make use of the protected ranking. The question is how I'm going to do at all those tournaments, including Buenos Aires. My next goal is to try to get a good enough ranking again to see if I can go to Roland Garros and Wimbledon as a 30 or 32 seed. And then have a decent ranking for the US Open and the last tournaments of the year. The ranking, however, is not a concern. If I do well at a couple of tournaments it'll improve again.

Update (Monday, 01/02)
Talking about coming back with a low ranking - David has lost another ten places (now that the points for last year's Australian Open have come off) and is currently ranked #140.


Update II (Wednesday, 03/02)
This is where David will be playing his first match in Buenos Aires:


(sobreargentina.com)

As announced by the Copa Telmex officials, David and David Ferrer will "put on their flip-flops to star in the first duel of the Copa Telmex on the beach", an exhibition match "to which Nalbandian has challenged Ferrer". The match will take place at the Parque de los Niños on Saturday, February 13, 6pm local.
Tamar, who has sent me the news about this from Mar Del Plata, won't be able to attend but she'll be at the Copa Telmex all week, so we can look forward to her photos and reports from the BALTC.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Comeback at the Copa Telmex


(ATP)

There was some hope that David might be able to return a week earlier than planned after his optimistic statements in a recent interview. But by now it's official - David will make his comeback at the Copa Telmex in Buenos Aires.
After nine months of absence and an unsuccessful attempt at a comeback in Auckland, where he suffered an abdominal tear, David Nalbandian will return to the court at the Copa Telmex in Buenos Aires, as has been confirmed to Infobae.com.

Nalbandian now has a set date for his return to the circuit. It will take place after February 14, during the week of the ATP tournament in Buenos Aires, according to sources from Nalbandian's camp. [Main draw starts February 15.]

The player from Unquillo spent 9 months away from the ATP Tour, first because of hip surgery he underwent in May 2009, and then because of a tear in the abdominal area that kept him from making his return at the ATP tournament in Auckland, New Zealand.

His last competitive match Nalbandian played in early May 2009 at the Estoril Open in Portugal, where Chile's Paul Capdeville defeated him 6-2, 6-2.

A few days after his defeat at Estoril, Nalbandian, who was ranked 19th at the time, announced that he'd finally have surgery for a hip injury that had been troubling him since 2008, after the quarterfinal Davis Cup tie against Sweden.

Having successfully mastered the different stages of rehabilitation after surgery, in early January Nalbandian experienced a sharp abdominal pain during preparations for his match against Germany's Philipp Kohschreiber in Auckland, where he made his first attempt to return to the circuit.

After a good recovery, Nalbandian will now start playing again in 2010 at the ATP tournament in Buenos Aires. The week after that, he will be playing the tournament in Acapulco. (Source.)

So - two more weeks of waiting...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In Place of an Update...

No news from David at the moment. Also no interviews but that may count as a good sign, meaning that David has more important things to do, now that his week of training in double-shifts has begun. The very week during which will be decided whether he'll make his comeback at the Copa Telmex as planned, a week earlier (perhaps at Costa Do Sauipe) or - later...
I'll try my best to keep you posted.


Update (Friday, 29/01)
As a Chilean TV station reports, the organisers at Viña Del Mar have tried to win over David for playing their tournament after Tommy Haas and Richard Gasquet had to withdraw because of injuries. The event starts coming Monday and David would've had to make his decision today.
But, as the article on station's website puts it, "even though he would've liked to come to Chile, he didn't like the idea of risking an aggravation of his physical problems as his main goal remains to be playing the tournament in Buenos Aires." (Source.)
It would've been a little early for him, anyway.


Meanwhile, Argentina's Davis Cup captain Tito Vázquez has had to answer questions about David like this one here.
Q: Can we win the Davis Cup without Nalbandian?

Vázquez: We need David and we're waiting from him [to return]. Hopefully he can recover [in time]. He may have been away for eight months but he's still a Top Ten player.
(Source.)

Finally, here's a little video... I've been wanting to post it for a while now but this seems to be the right moment. (Thanks, Easwar.)


Friday, January 22, 2010

An Update on David's Recovery



First of all, here's David on the cover of the latest edition of Grip, an Argentine tennis magazine.

And here's the article I already mentioned in the comments, about the current state of affairs, regarding David's recovery. (From the DyN news agency, quoted on a couple of sites.)
David Nalbandian continues his recovery from the abdominal tear that forced him to pull out of the tournament in Auckland, New Zealand and the Australian Open. And the progress he's making is "good" as could be heard from his camp.

"His recovery is going well. He's in Córdoba, doing the recovery process together with his team. He has already begun with some kinesiologic exercises and also some tennis, but only very light training," Bernardo Ballero, Nalbandian's spokesman, told DyN.

Ballero emphasized that the healing process of the 7mm tear in the abdominal area is progressing "as planned" and that the recovery efforts are coordinated to meet the requirements set by Nalbandian's Spanish doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro.

This particular injury did not allow Nalbandian to defend the 250 points he gained last year by winning the ATP tournament in Sydney, which is why he dropped down in the rankings to #130. It's the first time since July 2001 that Nalbandian is ranked outside of the Top 100.

Finally, the spokesman said that King David will "start doing his training sessions in double shifts next week," adding that "he'll work hard to be in top form for the ATP tournament in Buenos Aires".

As Tamar has pointed out, this Cadena 3 article about the taxi driver story contains an audio clip (that I, to be honest, completely failed to notice until she wrote about it) in which David also talks about his comeback. There, he says that he will have to see how the recovery process continues but that the plan basically is to play the Copa Telmex. And maybe even another tournament before that, in case he's fully recovered in time.
During the week before the Copa Telmex, there are three tournaments. Rotterdam, San Jose and Costa Do Sauipe (Brazil). And I agree with Noubar that should David be able to play that week, Costa Do Sauipe would probably be the most likely option... We'll see.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

David accused of Assault



As La Voz (thanks, tennisace) and several other Argentine news sites report, Antonio Simes, a taxi driver from Córdoba, is accusing David of having attacked and physically assaulted him last night. He intends to press charges.

Simes told the media that he was driving two young men who were supposed to carry out construction work at David's place. Arriving there at around 9pm yesterday, Simes says that the men told him it was okay to simply enter David's property and that everybody was doing it, therefore he drove on towards the house. What happened next, according to Simes, is that despite his attempts to clarify the situation, "David, who was playing football nearby, opened the door of the car without a word, grabbed me by my shirt and wanted me to get out of the car. Luckily enough I was able to break free for a moment and call my colleagues over the radio. They got there quickly, as did the police."
Simes claims that David's attack left him with a torn shirt, scratch marks and some bruises. He says that David offered him three shirts as compensation but that his reply was he didn't need any shirts and that he would press charges, instead. Because, as Simes puts it, "I've been brutally attacked".

David on the other hand denies having so much as touched Simes and says he merely went over to him to inquire what he was doing on his property, wanting to make sure he was not a burglar or thief. "There's a 'private property' sign and a closed gate and this guy entered without permission, so we went over to see who he was. He told us that he had been driving some people to work here and we asked him to call the police because we left our phones in our cars and suddenly he goes and tells the police we're kidnapping and threatening him." David has confirmed that there's currently construction work going on at his place but said that the workers are not allowed to enter his property in their cars. "There was no violence, on the contrary. I told him that he can't drive on other people's property. But well, these days, people will do anything for two minutes of fame."
According to David, nothing happened and therefore Simes won't be able to provide evidence for his allegations. "I didn't touch him. If he has a torn shirt, scratches and bruises then he should show them. But he won't be able to press charges." Adding, "they were on my property and yet I'm the one, who's being blamed."

Walter Barreiro, Unquillo's police chief, has confirmed that "at 10pm [last night] we received a call from a taxi driver requiring police assistance, saying he was being attacked by three people, one of them David Nalbandian".
Simes said yesterday that he'd press charges first thing in the morning. Right now, there is no news as to whether he has done so by now. Only that, according to Barreiro, by 9am Simes hadn't shown up yet.



If you want to have a look at Antonio Simes and at David, getting interviewed about the incident (he's basically saying the same things again as in the quotes here), two short videos have by now been added to the La Voz article.

(Additional sources: Cadena 3, Diario Los Andes, NotiExpress)


Update
According to a new article by La Voz (thanks, Anna), both sides are now pressing charges. David for breaking and entering and Simes for assault and battery. And it will be up to the "prosecutor's office to investigate the confused and unclear situation". While Fabian Farah, who's in charge of David's property, has had recorded that "a man in his 50s opened the gate and entered the property with his grey Peugeot 405 and that this man, identified as Antonio Simes, invaded David's property without any authorisation", Simes is now officially pressing charges against David for having "physically assaulted him on entering the premises".


(photos and montage: Cadena 3)

Monday, January 18, 2010

YouTube Best Of-3... Australian Open

No news from David at the moment... Except for the record-breaking 67 places he has gone down in the rankings, leaving him at #130. So it's official now, for the first time in almost ten years, there's now a Top 100 without David's name in it. And he's bound to go down a little further still before he starts playing again, in two weeks when the points for last year's Australian Open come off. Though it will only be 45 points as he didn't get past the second round.

Speaking of the Australian Open, this year's edition marks the fourth Grand Slam David has now missed in a row. A complete round of Slams, so to speak...
I didn't think that I'd be doing another YouTube Best Of-3 but with David's comeback now still another month away, here's a look a some memorable matches and moments at Melbourne. Back in the days when the courts were still green...(Thanks to Joop for making and uploading the match highlights videos.)



A 21-year-old David back in the days when he was still Federer's nemesis... This was their third match and David's third victory.
(The complete match can be downloaded at El Rincón del Tenis.)



Two years later, David's opponent in the fourth round was his friend Guillermo "El Mago" Coria. After dropping the first set, David managed to turn the match around and beat Coria for the first time.


Just a short clip but still worth a look. From David's 2006 first-round match against Udomchoke. Apart from David's shot I also like the commentator's reaction...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Back on the Recovery Trail...


(Sebastian Salguero/MundoD - from a previous interview)

With David safely back home by now, the latest news item on his official site says (I can't link to specific articles anymore, now that the site has been relaunched) that he will probably need around twenty days to recover from the abdominal tear he suffered in Auckland. Adding that if "nothing unforeseeable happens, David's official comeback could take place at the Copa Telmex". Not "will" but "could".
Which sounds a bit vague for my taste...

In any case, this means that if all goes well, David will play his comeback tournament in front of a home crowd, at the BALTC - the same venue where he won the Copa Argentina exhibition, less than a month ago. But as fitting as it may seem for David to also have his official comeback in Argentina, it is now clear that the Copa Telmex and Acapulco, a week later, will be the only opportunities David will have to gain match practice ahead of the Davis Cup tie against Sweden. So maybe it's not surprising that the first questions have been raised by the Argentine press (for example in this article I already used for the last post), asking whether Tito Vázquez should really rely on David. After all, he could end up having played only two matches before Stockholm...

But first of all, it's now back to hoping that David will have a speedy recovery.
Without anything unforeseeable happening.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

David out of the Australian Open

According to canchallena.com, the Fue Buena blog (thanks, leandro) and La Voz, David is definitely out of this year's Australian Open after a second MRI scan yesterday proved that he has suffered a 6-7mm tear in the abdominal area. He's bound to return to Argentina as soon as possible.

A second article on canchallena.com indicates that David made the decision to pull out of the year's first Grand Slam together with his team, the tournament physicians at Auckland and Dr. Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, who reviewed the scan images (which were sent to him) in Barcelona and advised David against trying to play in Melbourne.

While I can only speculate about the consequences this will have for David's state of mind, it now seems clear that he will make his ATP comeback at the Copa Telmex in Buenos Aires in mid-February.


Update
Throughout the last few days I kept looking for photos, videos, anything showing David in Auckland. And now, that he's probably already on his way back home to Argentina, I finally find this video of what looks like a small, more or less improvised press conference...



This is just a screencap, I can't embed the clip but you can watch it here.
A very happy and relaxed David (speaking English again after a long time), getting interviewed before that ominous training session and the injury...
It's really strange watching it now, knowing what happened afterwards. But I'll let you decide whether you want to see it or not.

Monday, January 11, 2010

David Withdraws From Auckland

You may already have seen it and I just saw it this minute - bad news. David has had to cancel his appearance at Auckland due to an abdominal strain he picked up during a training session on Monday. He made his decision to withdraw after undergoing an MRI scan.
And if that wasn't bad enough, he's now also in doubt for the Australian Open.
"I am very disappointed not to be able to make my comeback this week at the Heineken Open. I was very much looking forward" to playing in Auckland once again, said Nalbandian, currently ranked 63.

"I didn't play much tennis for eight months so it is natural to suffer some small injuries. Although I am disappointed at the moment, I remain confident and positive about making a full-time comeback to the tour soon," he added.

Tournament director Richard Palmer said similar abdominal injuries take 10 to 15 days to heal. The Australian Open, the season's opening Grand Slam, is due to start on Monday. (Source: AFP)
According to David's official site, he's not ruling out playing the Australian Open just yet, though of course he'll have to see how things evolve with his injury.

In any case, David's withdrawal also means that he'll lose 250 ranking points next Monday (when his points for winning Sydney last year come off) and that for the first time since July 2001 he'll be ranked outside of the Top 100.

Of course I'll try my best to keep up with the latest news about David and his chances of playing the Australian Open...


Update
According to this article by Argentine news agency Telam, citing David's spokesman Bernardo Ballero as their source, David has a "6mm tear in his abdominal area that causes him a lot of pain especially when serving" and it's "almost certain that he won't be able to play the Australian Open" though there's another MRI scan scheduled for today.

This is the only photo of David at Auckland I've been able to find...


(Brett Phibbs/NZHerald)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Auckland Draw

Here is the draw. David is in the bottom half, which looks like this...

[5] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) vs David Nalbandian (ARG)
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) vs Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)
Marc Gicquel (FRA) vs Olivier Rochus (BEL)
BYE vs [4] Nicolas Almagro (ESP)

Jürgen Melzer (AUT) vs Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Florian Mayer (GER) vs [WC] Sebastien Grosjean (FRA)
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) vs Arnaud Clement (FRA)
BYE vs [2] David Ferrer (ESP)

So David will play his comeback match on the Tour against Philipp Kohlschreiber...
It will be David's fourth encounter with the current #27, the match record standing at 2-1 in David's favour. Both of David's victories came on hard courts, a fairly easy one in straights at the US Open 2003 and then a much tougher one at Indian Wells 2007, where David fought back from a set down to eventually seal his win in a third-set tiebreaker. Their most recent match took place at Monte Carlo 2007. There, David had to retire in the second set, due to back problems.
Generally speaking, I'd describe Kohlschreiber (who won Auckland in 2008) as a potentially dangerous opponent for David, and not only because of the comeback situation. When he's on, Kohlschreiber can serve well, play a good all-court game and he also has a pretty strong backhand - a combination David tends to have his problems with.
However, Kohlschreiber has already played an event this season, the Hopman Cup, where he lost all his singles matches (against Murray, Andreev and Golubev). Which might indicate that he hasn't really found his form yet.

And here are a first few quotes from David, who trained at the site with Juan Monaco yesterday...
"My goals are not about winning. I just want to be healthy, with no pain trying to play more matches."

"If I'm right after all that, then it's about taking out tournaments. Let's just say I want to work towards the top 10 for starters."

"My rhythm playing matches was completely gone so it was matter of getting confidence on court. I'm trying to be the good player I was because I could be into my last three years of top-level play." (Source.)

Update
Good news - the tournament stream will be available everywhere, without any geographical restrictions.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Auckland Preview


(ATP)

Initially, David's plan was to start the season at Sydney. But when it became clear that he wouldn't receive a wild card (despite being the reigning champion), the organisers of the Heineken Open quickly took their chance and offered one to him. Therefore, David's comeback tournament on the ATP Tour is now Auckland.
It won't be David's first season that kicks off in New Zealand. He has played this particular event before, though it's been a while. His last trip to Auckland, back in 2003, was a fairly short one as he lost in the first round. In 2002 he reached the quarterfinal.
After 2003, David preferred to prepare for the Australian Open either at the Kooyong exhibition or, last year, at Sydney. Playing Auckland instead now, David will face much easier conditions (in terms of the heat) and also a field that's not as strong as the one at Sydney.
Among the top seeds, each of whom David could face in his first match, are Tommy Robredo, David Ferrer, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Nicolas Almagro but also Juan "Pico" Monaco.
The draw will be pulled Saturday (3pm local).

The matches will be played in two sessions, day (starting 11am local) and night (7.30pm local).
The interesting thing here being the time difference... +13 hrs GMT, +16 hrs Argentina, +18 hrs EST.

The good news is, however, that this tournament offers its own, free stream service. And the ad for it on the tournament website even promises match replays... We'll see. (Not available in India, China, Spain, Italy, France & Belgium; but there should be other streams as well, for example on the betting sites.)

So David is now about to embark on the long journey to Auckland. I thought he'd want to get there sooner, to have a little more time to get used to the conditions and the time difference. But it looks like he wanted a few more days back home - before it's now time to start travelling again. And though we all know how much he hates it, I'm still glad he has to put up with it again now...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Road ahead...


(Rio Negro)

Soon, David will be on his way to Auckland, to play his first ATP tournament since May. And to start his 2010 season. But although it's clear by now what the first few months will look like for David, at least in terms of his schedule, the big question is of course - how well will he be able to do, playing on the Tour again?
His first test, at San Juan and the Copa Argentina, he passed and much better than I expected. Proving not only that his game, his old strengths are still there but also showing that he has done some work on his weaker shots, especially his forehand. He also proved that he was fit enough to play two matches, five sets on one day. And winning both exhibition events must have done his confidence a lot of good.
But still, he'll soon face much stronger opponents. Playing real matches in possibly difficult conditions. - A different matter.
I won't make any predictions about how far David might be able to go at these first few tournaments. But there are a couple of things that will be important in the coming weeks and months...

Ranking
If a year ago, someone had told me that at the start of this season David would be ranked #64, I would've been shocked. But after all that happened last year, #64 now really doesn't seem too bad. (That David has yet again moved up a place is, I believe, the result of Safin's retirement.)
However, there's still Sydney, which is to say David's victory there last year and those 250 ranking points that will come off directly after the week of Sydney/Auckland. In other words, unless David wins Auckland, he'll lose points. Maybe a lot of them, if he goes out in the first or second round. And in that case, he could still easily end up finding himself outside of the Top 100 after Auckland.

Draws
A bit of luck with the draw is always important for going deep at a tournament. At the start of this season, however, David's luck with the draws (or lack of) could very well end up playing a decisive role in determining the success of his comeback. - As he's not going to be seeded anywhere. Even if he uses his protected ranking to get into the main draw without having to play qualies. And that makes for some rather interesting possible scenarios. Especially at the Australian Open... Anything can happen, including a first-round match against Federer. Or anybody else inside the Top Ten. But also at the smaller tournaments, David will never be safe from meeting one of the top seeds in the first round.

Davis Cup
Always a factor with David. This year even more so with the difficult away tie against Sweden looming in the distance (March 5-7). And if David was very passionate about the Davis Cup before, it's now bound to get even 'worse'. With merely another two or three years of playing left, his desire to win the Davis Cup will probably grow only more acute.
But the good news is that in the meantime, Delpo has declared that he's planning to play the tie in Stockholm, after all. And after David already talked a number of times about how important Delpo is for the team, Delpo has by now returned the compliment.
"Nalbandian is doing well after surgery and he'll surely play a very important part on the team again. Therefore we can dream about winning [the Davis Cup] again." (Source. Thanks, tennisace.)
Right now, it looks like the two of them will be playing for Argentina together again. And hopefully they'll find a way of finally overcoming their differences.

So - what does it look like, the road ahead for David?
I really don't know. But with a bit of luck with the draws (and if his hip remains to be okay), I think he might surprise a lot of people...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy Birthday David & Happy New Year!

Last year, my wishes for David were for him to stay free from injuries and that he'd get another chance to win the Davis Cup.
Yeah, and we all know how well that worked out...
So this year, I'll just say - cumpleaños feliz, David! And good luck for 2010!

Apart from that, there's this little tradition I have.
Each new year, on David's birthday, Vamos David gets a new look.
A fresh start for the new season.
And this really seems like the right time for a fresh start...
Well, I hope you'll like it. :)

And whatever this new season may bring for David and for us as his fans, I'll try my best to keep you up-to-date about it.

Happy New Year!!!