Friday, May 28, 2010

Return still uncertain?

Update IIDavid (via Twitter):
I am very focused on my recovery, training in double shifts to try and play Wimbledon.

Update (31/05)
From La Nacion, yesterday...
David Nalbandian has announced that he will not play the tournament at the Queen's Club, a preparatory event for Wimbledon where a wildcard was reserved for him, as he has not yet recovered from his left hamstring injury. In the next few days he will decide whether he'll participate in the third Grand Slam of the season which starts June 21.

First of all, I have to admit that I didn't check the official site for a few days - until today. Therefore, I cannot really say for how long the news item I'm going to quote has been on there and whether it was released before or after the Clarin article I cited in my last post and which said that David is by now doing some light training in the practice court again.
So there's still a bit of hope that the different and more gloomy picture the official site paints of the current state of affairs was already posted a few days ago and may no longer be entirely up-to-date...
Taking refuge in the unconditional affection of his family and helped by the ongoing support of his team, David continues to get his physical recovery underway. Being out of Roland Garros, "El Rey" is working on his return to the circuit which will take place when he feels he's back at 100% of his potential.

Without doubt, not playing the French Grand Slam has been a good decision. This time off the circuit is helping David to achieve a complete rehabilitation, just like his doctors have advised him to. The main objective is to let the left hamstring injury fully heal that David suffered and the effects of which he felt before the Madrid Masters.

As always, Unquilllo has been chosen as the place for carrying out his preparation. Working in double shifts, David is doing kinesiological excercises in order to restore the affected area. He's also doing physical excercises but without compromising the muscle in question.
So far, so not really new.
But then there's that final sentence, the one I don't like at all:
The date of his return to the ATP remains to be uncertain.
- Remains to be? I thought the plan was for him to return at Wimbledon. At least that was the message from the official site not too long ago. Whether this change is the result of the way David's recovery is progressing (or maybe failing to progress), I don't know. Once more, I guess we'll have no other choice but to wait and see...

I just had a look at the Boodles website, and on their list of players (which has been updated in the meantime, with more players having been added), David's name is still to be found. Of course that doesn't have to mean anything. But it's good to see that it's still there.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Practice Courts, Football and the Davis Cup

(BBC; taken during the World Cup 2006)

As Clarin reports (thanks, tennisace), David is by now back on the practice court, adding a bit of tennis to his training regime. Though at the moment, he's still only doing some light practicing.

- Just like Argentina's national football team, who beat Canada 5-0 in a friendly match yesterday. On the occasion, there were messages for the team from other Argentine sports heroes, including David, who, with regard to the upcoming World Cup, asked the Selección to "give everything, playing for the country, like all Argentine athletes do" (source). Certainly something David knows a thing or two about...

Speaking of which, the Davis Cup that is, Juan Monaco went out in the first round at Roland Garros today and is now facing the decision whether to have wrist surgery (as planned for this stage of the season) or continue playing for the sake of the Davis Cup. Apparently, he hasn't really made up his mind yet but chances are that in Moscow, it could be David together with Leo Mayer, Horacio Zeballos and Eduardo Schwank again.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

In Place of an Update...

No news from David at the moment...
But perhaps he watched a bit of tennis from Düsseldorf today, where Argentina won the World Team Cup, defeating the US in the final. - The Argentine way, by winning the singles matches.
And while David himself has never really shown much of an interest in this particular event (having only played it twice in his career) he'll probably find a way of congratulating Juan Monaco and Horacio Zeballos who sealed the victory for Argentina today.

As there's nothing to report at the moment, here's a little Tenis Pro clip instead. 'El Gringo' David together with Juan Ignacio 'El Flaco' Chela, Guillermo 'Willy' Cañas, José 'Chucho' Acasuso and Agustin 'El Gordo' Calleri, killing time (and being silly) at the airport in Paris, two years ago...

<a href="" target="_new" title="Tenis Pro se divierte en París">Video: Tenis Pro se divierte en París</a>

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Recovery Update

There's a new press release on David's official site about his recovery and including a couple of quotes...
David has decided not to play Roland Garros because he doesn't feel fully recovered from the left hamstring injury that kept him out of the Madrid Masters last week.

"I'll return to the circuit when I'm 100% fit," David said while recovering from the tear in Unquillo, where he is with his team. After arriving from Europe, David began with this new rehabilitation, doing double shifts of kinesiological work and also other exercises that won't endanger the affected muscle.

"I'm very sad to miss another Grand Slam but together with my team we've decided that for my return to the circuit my physical condition should be optimal. I'm working hard to return as soon as possible."
- No mention of Wimbledon here, which could indicate that he might still ask for a wildcard at one of the preparatory grass events.
But that's merely speculation at this point.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Argentine media: David out of Roland Garros

There's still no official announcement from David but Argentine journalists are already spreading the news (thanks, Anna) and now there are the first articles about it in the Argentine press - David is out of Roland Garros.
A tear in his left hamstring will keep David Nalbandian out of Roland Garros. He will inform the French tournament organisers about his withdrawal on Monday. (, thanks Ciccio.)
La Nueva Provincia, quoting the DyN news agency, adds:
While still recovering in his home country, Nalbandian is in permanent contact with his Spanish doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, who advised him not to return until he's fully recovered.
- And this time, David has apparently decided to listen to his doctor's advice.

According to these articles, David will return at Wimbledon (which starts June 21) and without appearing at one of the preparatory tournaments on grass like Queen's Club or Halle. It remains to be seen whether he'll really come back at Wimbledon without having played any matches. I guess there's still a chance that he'll take part in the Boodles Challenge exhibition (the week before Wimbledon), which would provide him with an opportunity to play a couple of matches on grass without the pressure of playing a real tournament. We'll see...

For the record, it has now been confirmed on David's official site that he's out of Roland Garros and that he plans to return at Wimbledon.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ruiz-Cotorro: David shouldn't play Roland Garros

With David back home now, completing his recovery, it's still not clear whether he will play Roland Garros (which starts May 23) or whether he'll wait with returning to the Tour until the clay season is over. According to the decision will be made on Tuesday.

However, David's personal doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro has voiced his doubts about David making his comeback at the clay-court Slam...
"It would be risky for David to return at Roland Garros. I would advise him not to play because it's a very demanding tournament with best-of-five matches and that would not be advisable for him. Even though his injury isn't serious, the return should not be hastened to reduce the risk of the same thing happening again that happened in Madrid." (Source: ESPN radio via Olé)
In other words, if David decides to play after all, he'll be doing it against the advice of his doctor. It wouldn't be the first time. But for my part, I'd rather see him miss Roland Garros than risk missing many more tournaments this season.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

David back Home, the Questions remain...

(Sergio Llamera)

By now, David is back in Argentina. Initially, he apparently thought about staying in Europe but now he's back home. And whether that's a good or a bad sign remains to be seen.
In the near future, there's the risk of missing Roland Garros. In fact, Nalbandian thought about playing the World Team Cup in Düsseldorf next week, but that's obviously not possible. Together with his team he made a decision: to only return to the circuit fully recovered and in perfect physical shape.
Sounds like a very sensible plan. The only problem is that according to David and his camp he was already fully recovered and in perfect physical shape when he got to Madrid. So did the injury simply flare up again, out of nowhere? Or was his recovery not quite as complete as he wanted us (and maybe himself) to believe?
Nalbandian wants to play and this is no minor detail. It's what happened with the Davis Cup first round tie against Sweden, where he was out of the team and then, at the last minute, got on a plane and ended up being the key factor for Argentina's victory.
Back then, David acknowledged that his trip to Stockholm was "madness" and something he'd only do for the sake of playing Davis Cup. However, it was also during that weekend that he first experienced problems with his left hamstring, feeling a "spasm" while warming up for the fifth rubber against Vinciguerra, which saw him on the verge of not playing that match. Whether the injury he suffered at Monte Carlo is related to that episode is not clear.
The injury isn't new and this is a fact his team doesn't necessarily see as something negative, in a situation that's not ideal but also not entirely surprising. Was it to be expected? Is that what his Spanish doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro told him, that the long absence would make it difficult for him to return? But the concerns are many and they're growing. (Source: La Nacion)
In my opinion, some of it was to be expected. After all, it's not unusual for athletes to suffer muscular injuries after coming back from a long pause. And it was also not really a surprise that his muscular problems couldn't keep David from playing Davis Cup. But what certainly goes beyond the difficulties that had to be expected is the frequency with which those muscular injuries have occurred ever since David's first attempt to return at Auckland in January. Back then, suffering a tear merely seemed to be a stroke of bad luck. By now, four months later, it has become the leitmotif of this year. And with the first half of the season almost over, David has only been able to play a total of thirteen matches. Constantly moving back and forth between playing some matches and being sidelined again. And while that's frustrating enough from the fan perspective, it must be so much more frustrating for David, himself.

But what to make of all this? Here's my theory. I think that up until now, David maybe wasn't really as careful as he should've been with those muscular injuries. That he went back to playing matches again too soon because he really wanted to play and couldn't wait. It's pretty obvious that this is what happened with the Davis Cup tie. But maybe it wasn't the only situation. So perhaps, this is now the point where David and his team have decided to do things differently. And to really wait until he's fully fit again.
- Or at least that's what I hope...

According to Telam, David wants to return "as soon as possible". Saying, "I'm calm and I'll complete the recovery just as my medical team tells me to."

Olé quotes David's spokesman Bernardo Ballero. "The plan is for David to play in Paris. We'll have to see how matters evolve in the next few days. This is a new-old injury and the whole team believes that in order to play again, David has to feel 100% fit."

Los Andes adds, quoting Ballero again, that next week, "it will be determined" whether or not David is in the shape to play Roland Garros.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

David out of Madrid

According to Argentine ESPN commentators, David is having problems with his left hamstring again and is therefore out of Madrid. (Thanks, Tamar.)
- I've just heard the same on TennisTV. So it seems to be true...

David is out of Madrid. And the injury series continues.

I'll try to find out more about the injury and what it will mean for the weeks to come.

There are now the first articles in the Spanish-speaking press about David's withdrawal. Confirming that it's his left hamstring again. Though it's still not entirely clear whether it's the same injury he contracted in Monte Carlo or a new injury in the same area.

Update II
There's news about David and his plans for the coming weeks from Danny Miche, an Argentine journalist. (Thanks, Tamar.)
"He suffered a hamstring injury and as a precaution, he will not play Madrid. He did some examinations with his personal doctor (Angel Ruiz-Cotorro) and made the decision not to play this afternoon. Apparently, he'll return to Unquillo and he won't play the World Team Cup in Düsseldorf next week. He expects to be back for Roland Garros."

About whether it's the old injury again or a new one there are now different versions in the press. It'll probably take an interview with David or a press release on the official site to know for sure.

Update III
A new press release on the official site confirms that it's the old injury from Monte Carlo that's troubling David.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Madrid Draw

"I'm very happy to have recovered and to be hundred percent fit to play in Madrid because it's a very important tournament and I love to take part in it."
(Source: ESPN; thanks, Ciccio.)
So here's what awaits David in Madrid...

[6] Fernando Verdasco (ESP) vs BYE
Evgeny Korolev (KAZ) vs Ivo Karlovic (CRO)
QUALIFIER vs Jürgen Melzer (AUT)
[WC] David Nalbandian (ARG) vs [11] Tomas Berdych (CZE)

[16] Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) vs Pere Riba (ESP)
Juan Monaco (ARG) vs Simon Greul (GER)
Nicolas Almagro (ESP) vs Viktor Troicki (SRB)
BYE vs [4] Robin Söderling (SWE)

This is the upper quarter of the bottom, i.e. Nadal's half (who's seeded second because of Djokovic's withdrawal). Some very familiar names in this quarter, like Viktor Troicki and Jürgen Melzer, who David could meet in the second round.
But before that, in the first round David's opponent will be Tomas Berdych. - Again, one could say. After 2007 and 2008, it'll be the third time in a row they meet at Madrid, though their two previous matches (which David both won) took place when Madrid was still an indoor event. Overall, David has a 4-1 match record against Berdych. With his only loss having come in one of their two matches on clay so far (WTC 2006). Berdych recently had a good run at Indian Wells and Miami but went out to Philipp Petzschner in the third round at Munich this week, so it's difficult to say what kind of form he's in, right now.
What's certain though is that should David make it past Berdych, it's not going to get any easier for him in the following rounds. Whether it's a potential second-round match against Jürgen Melzer (who hasn't done anything spectacular on clay so far, though) or a possible third-round encounter with Fernando Verdasco...
But - first things first. David against Tomas Berdych in Madrid. For the third time in a row. Let's hope that David's series continues.

P.S. Incredible but true - the full draw is now finally online...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Interview with David - and more...

Before setting out for Madrid, David appeared on Argentine TV channel TyC Sports for a brief interview, with his statements by now being quoted all over the Argentine press. Here's what he had to say...
As far as the injury is concerned, I feel great. My recovery went according the plan set up by my medical team. I took up playing tennis again already several days ago and without having any problems. So I believe I'll be in good shape for the Madrid Masters, which starts on May 9 [first round starts May 10 as far as I know]. I hope to do well at this prestigious event.

Generally speaking, the most important thing for me is to find my rhythm, in order to reach my best level of playing and to then maintain that level, allowing me to get to the decisive stage at tournaments. And only then I think about those goals I always have, winning the Davis Cup and a Grand Slam, the two titles I haven't managed to win so far.
David was also asked to comment on the top players and their current situation.
It's true that Federer is a bit more inconsistent now but you mustn't forget that he had a pulmonary disease and spent some time away from the circuit. Apart from that, he won the only Grand Slam that has been played this season. As for Rafa, I think that he's back to being unbeatable on clay and that he's the favourite for winning Roland Garros if he keeps playing this way. For Djokovic, the last couple of tournaments have been a bit of a setback but he's still the number 2 player in the world. Murray seems a lot more inconsistent but he's always a dangerous opponent who has a lot of weapons he can surprise you with.

While looking for a video of the TyC Sports interview, I came across the following clip. It's been a while since we last got to see and hear David singing... Here he's at it again, this time with a couple of friends, one of them Argentine polo star Adolfo Cambiaso (with basecap). Enjoy...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flashback... A Year ago at Estoril

(AP Photo)

On May 4 2009, a year ago to the day, David lost his first-round match against Paul Capdeville at Estoril. A match that was intended as a test, to see whether there was any chance of postponing surgery until after Roland Garros and maybe also Wimbledon... It turned out to be David's last match before what would eventually become a nine-month injury pause.

Back then, the true dimensions of David's ongoing hip problems, with surgery as an unwanted but increasingly likely "Plan B" (David's term), had only just been revealed. And it all still seemed completely unreal and simply too horrible to be true.

After the match, which showed David unable to carry on playing, it became clear that he still didn't want surgery - but also that he wasn't going to have much of a choice. Eventually, four days after the Estoril test match, David announced that he would have hip surgery on May 13... The rest is history.

Back then, in early May 2009, there were lots and lots of questions. And the biggest one of them all was whether we would ever get to see David playing again, being his old self on court.
Now, one year later, and despite the muscular injuries that have hampered his comeback, I think it's safe to say that the answer is - yes. :)

(La Mañana de Cordoba)

Meanwhile, La Mañana de Cordoba has a brief update about David's recovery and preparation for Madrid...
David Nalbandian is stepping up his preparation for another return to the circuit. This season, he's up against two great opponents: the schedule and the injuries. But he invariably emerges stronger than before and focuses on his next target, the Madrid Masters, which starts next Monday. (...)
Nalbandian did not play the Conde de Godó (Barcelona) and the Rome Masters, getting into top shape again for the tournament in Madrid, and he has been making excellent progress. "I'm fine. I'm recovering and I plan to arrive in Madrid in the best possible shape," David said.
Apart from that, and without playing, David has advanced one spot in the rankings and is now ranked #150.

Update (05/05)
According to La Nacion, David will travel to Madrid tomorrow.