Saturday, November 27, 2010

A very brief Update...

Update (30/11)
David will begin the 2011 season at Auckland.
I just found his name on the tournament's entry list.

With David presumably still on holiday, the only piece of info I have for you at the moment is that, not surprisingly perhaps, his name is not to be found on any of the entry lists for Doha, Chennai or Brisbane. So it looks like the first week of the new season will once again take place without David.
Whether he'll be playing during the second week (Sydney or Auckland), or maybe prepare for the Australian Open at Kooyong is not clear yet. I'll keep you posted.

Two weeks from now, David will play the first of his three exhibitions he has scheduled for December. But before the focus will be on those, I'll take a look back at David's 2010 season - soon to come on VD.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"A Decade of Moments"

No news for me to report at the moment. All is quiet on the David-front...
In the meantime, you can join David on the little trip down memory lane that Argentine sports channel ESPN took him on (thanks, Tamar for the tip) as part of their "A Decade of Moments" series to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their show "Sportscenter".

Clicking on the screencap above will open the page with the video in a new window/tab. There, you can play the clip (which looks a bit distorted, apparently stretched from 4:3 to 16:9 format; I took the liberty of ironing that out with the screencaps here). It shows David, discussing some of the most important and memorable moments of his career over the last ten years.
Here's a summary of what he says in the clip...

The change from junior to pro
One of the most difficult things in tennis, there are lots of talented juniors but turning pro makes a huge difference; with some it happens fast, with others it takes more time, with some it never happens. It took him a year to adapt; he turned pro together with Coria, who was faster at making that transition.

The year 2002 & the Wimbledon final

A very good year for him, moving up in the rankings and winning his first ever title at Estoril. And also making the final at Wimbledon, which was a great leap forward in terms of his career; he was ranked around #30 [#32] going into the tournament, moved up afterwards [to #15] and finished the year ranked #12. At first, it looked like he was going to have an extremely tough draw at Wimbledon, with matches against Sampras in the third and Agassi in the fourth round but both lost before he could meet them. And he was very bad in training, unable to adjust to the conditions. He didn't like it and thought he couldn't beat anybody. One day in practice, he was playing points with Franco Squillari and he couldn't seem to win a single point, he thought it was going to be a disaster. But then he played more, started to play better and to feel better during his matches, and apart from that the draw opened up for him. And he took his chance. The match against Arthurs [R4] was tough but he was playing well. It was an incredible tournament and he never thought he'd go that far.

That elusive Slam title...
He got close on several occasions, having reached semis at all four Slams. In the 2006 semifinal at Roland Garros against Federer he was playing well but then an abdominal strain forced him to retire. He thinks he could've won that match. In the Australian Open semi 2006 against Baghdatis he was up 2-0 sets and a break in the fifth, another match he could've won, another final he could've made. He came close but the reality is that reaching a Slam final (and winning it) is extremely difficult and you're up against very good players.

The Masters Cup Shanghai 2005
Winning the Masters Cup was very important because it's a great and unforgettable title to have won. Also because of the special circumstances. He had gone fishing, as he didn't qualify directly and didn't think he'd go to Shanghai and then the ATP called and asked whether he could come as an alternate but at first, they couldn't confirm whether he'd get to play or not. And he hadn't been training at all and didn't really know whether he wanted to do it. But then he decided to go. While he was in Paris, on his way from Buenos Aires to Shanghai, the ATP called again and said that Roddick had pulled out, so he knew he'd get to play. At first, he didn't feel good on court, without real training. But he started feeling good in the round-robin match against Federer, although he lost it. Then he started gaining confidence and the final against Federer was incredible. He lost the first two sets 6-7 and was down two sets to love but he kept playing on a high level, while Federer's dropped a bit. In the fifth set Federer played well again and it was an amazing final. His girlfriend and his mother were there. Winning that title was absolutely spectacular.

Shanghai post-match interview
Yes, the most important title of his career, the kind of title you don't to win every day, this kind of event you get only once per year and it's really very important.
(Asked if he wants to be/can imagine being the #1) That's what everybody wants, being as high in the rankings as possible and it's certainly a goal but there are very good players like Federer, Nadal, Hewitt, Safin and it's not easy to win all the time. It's very difficult goal to achieve but something to work for.

2010 - the comeback year
It was a difficult year, coming back after an injury, the first half of the season was very complicated with those muscular tears and other physical problems, which is normal after such a long pause. He felt good and did very well during the US hardcourt swing but at the end of it he felt very, very tired and had some pains but it was mostly exhaustion. He'll try to learn from that, planning his season next year, avoiding such long series of tournaments.
He's not the kind of guy to sit at home and do nothing. He'll always go for some activity or other, that's what ne heeds, for himself, for his head. And he's not like those athletes who end their career and then don't know what to do with themselves, as has certain things that interest him.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

David receives Konex de Platino Award

(photo by Tamar)

Update III (20/11)
The ATP World Tour Award for the Comeback Player of the Year 2010 (which David was nominated for and which is voted by the players) goes to Robin Haase.

David has been awarded the "Konex de Platino" by the Fundación Konex, honouring his achievements and role in Argentine sports in the last decade. The foundation's awards are given to Argentine athletes, as well as public figures from a variety of other fields.

The jury, presided over by Gabriela Sabatini, selected five Argentine athletes with outstanding achievements in the last decade from 20 different sports (ranging from tennis and football to rugby, polo and sports for the disabled) to receive a so-called "Diploma al Mérito". For tennis, the five selected players were: David, Guillermo Coria, Gaston Gaudio, Juan Martin Del Potro and Paola Suárez.
Out of those five, one athlete in each of the 20 different sports was singled out for the Konex de Platino award. And in the tennis category, the award went to David. (His friend Adolfo Cambiaso picked up the one for polo and Lionel Messi won it in the football category.) While basketball star Manu Ginobili was crowned Argentine athlete of the last decade. (Source: Clarin/DyN.)

Tamar (thanks!) was able to attend the awards ceremony last night. You'll find more of her photos on the new photo page.

Update II (17/11)
From David's (i.e. his official site's) Twitter:
I thank the Fundación Konex for bestowing the Konex de Platino award on me.
I dedicate it to my family for their support throughout my career.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What's ahead - A Look at David's Off-Season


Update (15/11)
David finishes this season with 1480 ranking points - the exact same number as Juan Monaco. But since Pico did better at the big events (i.e. Slams and Masters), he has the edge over David in the rankings and finishes the year as Argentina's #1 (at #26), while David is now ranked #27.

So, the last official match of the season has been played. And now it's time for the off-season again - both for David and for this blog. But what does that mean for the coming weeks?
Of course I'll be keeping an eye on the Argentine press and I'll post what news and interviews I find. There will be several requests for interviews from the Argentine newspapers/sites, we'll see how many of those David will agree to do. And perhaps he'll also agree to some TV and radio appearances. - I'll try my best to keep track of all that.

Apart from that, David will play three exhibitions in December.
Here's when, where and who else is going to play:

Copa Almirante Brown
(Dec 11/12)
This event will see a reunion of the Davis Cup team (Lyon edition): David, Juan Monaco, Horacio Zeballos and Eduardo Schwank will play at the Club San Albano in Burzaco (Buenos Aires province). As the matches will be shown live on Argentine TV channel TyC Sports, there's a good chance that there will also be a stream.

Copa Peugeot Argentina de Tenis (Dec 16-19)
The Copa Argentina, held at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club (home also of the Copa Telmex), is by far the biggest one of these three events and traditonally part of David's off-season schedule. Here's the field for this year's edition: David, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Juan Monaco, Marat Safin and Marcos Baghdatis. TyC Sports will also show all Copa Argentina matches.

Copa Tenis Conrad (Dec 27/28)
His last exhibition of the year, David will play at the Resort & Casino Conrad in Punta del Este, Uruguay. It's not yet clear whether there'll be coverage of this event. But what is clear is that David will be joined by Thomaz Bellucci, Gaston Gaudio and Marat Safin.

I'll cover these events (and I'll get help from Tamar, who will be at the Copa Argentina and also in Uruguay for the Copa Tenis Conrad). Apart from that it's going to get a bit more quiet here on Vamos David now... But only a little bit.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Goodbye 2010 - David loses to Murray

(Highlights by Andvari, thanks; Noubar's highlights you can watch here.)
"It's never great to lose but that's the way it is."
It began with a set of perfect tennis but it ended in defeat: David's 2010 season came to its end today with a loss against Andy Murray, who, after just under two hours, converted his first match point for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory. After David completely dominated proceedings in the first set, a change of tactics helped Murray to get back into the match - and eventually win it.

The first set of this match saw what was arguably the best tennis David has played since surgery. And it also saw some incredible serving from him (80% first serves isn't really the kind of stat you get to see that often with David - if at all). In my pre-match post, I wrote that David would have to be prepared to do cover a lot of ground. But in this first set, it was Murray who had to do all the running, as David completely outplayed him from the baseline. Setting up points basically at will, with angled shots or by going down the lines. Breaking Murray's serve twice in this set (for 2-1 and 4-1) and losing only 3 points on serve, David closed it out to love, converting his first set point with an ace.

At the start of the second set, Murray then changed his tactics to serve and volley - a decision that would turn out to be decisive for this match. While Murray's stats on serve didn't really improve, he now no longer had any difficulties, holding serve. David didn't have a break point in this set and his level now began to drop, with more errors creeping into his game. But he was still solid enough on serve to not get in any trouble. Until at 5-4 for Murray, David had to serve to stay in the set. Until that moment, David's unforced errors count had been on the rise, but it had been a fairly moderate rise. At that moment, however, and probably also "helped" by a series of let calls David found not amusing at all, a series of unforced errors cost him his serve. And the second set.

In the third set, David now seemed increasingly tired and, at the beginning of it, still a bit out of sorts because of the way he had lost the previous set. Still, he managed to stay out of trouble on serve. But he couldn't find a way of doing any damage in his return games. At 2-2, Murray did something to his wrist while returning a shot from David. What followed was a medical timeout that David has his own opinion about.
"It's a pity that Andy cries too much on court. If you hurt your wrist and can't play tennis then you have to stop and get off the court."
But Murray stayed on the court. And at first, it seemed like the several-minute pause did David some good. As he now managed to play a couple of points that were reminiscent of the first set. But Murray remained unassailable on serve, always coming up with great serves when he needed them (David also didn't have a break point in the third set). Then, at 4-3 Murray, the moment came for David's second bad service game and the one that cost him the match. Making three errors in a row and going down 0-40, he saved two break points before sending another forehand into the net (and then getting a code violation for hitting the ball into the stands). After that, Murray quickly served it out to love.

In David's words:
"It was a tough match, I started very well but Murray raised his game, changed his tactics to serve and volley and it worked. He played very well and I didn't serve well in the last two sets, that's what probably made the difference."
I would add that he also didn't move well in the last two sets and that this played an important role in the increasing number of unforced errors that he made, mostly because of his deteriorating footwork. (Set1: 3 UEs, set2: 10, set3: 11.) And those unforced errors were once again what ended up costing him his serve and, eventually, the match.

So - that was it now. David's season 2010 is over. Time for a quick look back:
"It was a strange year because of the injuries. But in the second half of the season I felt good because I was able to compete on a regular basis. I'm quite happy about what I've achieved this year." (David's quotes: Olé)
- And I think he has every right to be happy. I'll be taking a more detailed look back at David's "strange year" in the weeks to come.
But for now it's - goodbye 2010.

(Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paris R2 - David vs Andy Murray

(Michael Steele/Getty Images)

After initially treating us to a set of flawless tennis, David has lost his second-round match against third seed Andy Murray, who prevailed 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
So that was it for 2010, this was David's last official match of the season.
(Though he has a couple of interesting exhibitions scheduled for December.)

Photos from the match are now up.
And the match can be downloaded via David on Screen.

More soon...

(AP Photo/Getty Images; montage VD)

There are certain match-ups that seem to promise an exciting match. In the case of David and Andy Murray, that reputation is mostly based on the last time they met at the Paris Masters. Back in in 2008, Murray came to Bercy, fresh from winning two titles in a row (Madrid Masters and St. Petersburg). But although David was struggling with his hip injury at the time, he ended Murray's winning streak in the quarterfinal, beating him in straight sets in what definitely was a very exciting match (watch clip).
The last time the two of them met, however, at Toronto this year, it was David who was on a winning streak going into the match - and ended up losing convincingly in straights (see report and clip). It was Murray's first victory over David, with the match record now at 2-1 (David won their first encounter at Wimbledon 2005).

But the ending of streaks isn't the only similarity between those matches, despite the very different results. Who serves poorly loses - to put it simply. At Paris 2008, Murray paid the price for making only 46% first serves. At Toronto this year, David won far too few points on both first and second serve - the rest is history. Of course the serve always plays an important role and players who serve well also tend to play well. But with two returners of David's and Murray's caliber, the ability to hold serve becomes even more crucial. Therefore, David will have to serve well (and maybe hope that Murray doesn't...) and he'll have to be prepared to cover a lot of ground because chances are there'll be quite a few long, chess-like rallies.

Andy Murray lost to Juan Monaco in the third round at Valencia last week (though he won the doubles title, together with his brother Jamie). He already qualified for the World Tour Final in London. And in a new interview, he said that he's had difficulties before, adjusting to the conditions and the very fast surface at Bercy. Hopefully, it won't be any different, this year.

Paris R1 - Taking the first Hurdle

(Highlights by Andvari - thanks.)

The scoreline suggests that it was an easy victory and that's what it was, though not without some minor "hiccups": In the first round at the Paris Masters, David needed only 66 minutes to beat Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-1. Breaking the Spaniard five times in the course of the match, David lost his serve once - when he was trying to close out the first set. In the second round tomorrow, he will now face third seed Andy Murray.
David's post-match interview you can watch here.

It was a great start that David had into this match, breaking Granollers in the very first game and then going up a double break (and 4-1). David was in control of the match at this stage and when he consolidated his break for a 5-1 lead, he had won the last ten consecutive points. At 5-2, David served for the set. And although he had dropped only 2 points on serve until then, closing it out once more proved to be a problem. David handed over the break with an error-riddled service game but managed to strike back in the following game, breaking Granollers yet again to take the first set 6-3.
At the beginning of the second set, David faced (and saved) another break point and they remained on serve until 2-1. After that, he went up a double break again (though struggling a bit more on his own serve than in the first) and then at 5-1, David served for the match. Again, Granollers had a break point but David saved and then converted his first match point with a bit of serve and volley, 6-1.

What worked extremely well today were David's returns, putting Granollers under constant pressure on serve (and that took its toll; he double-faulted twice at break point). But while his forehand returns were great today, it was once again the forehand that continued to leak errors, especially at the later stages of the match. David played a very clean first set (10 winners, only 6 UEs) but his unforced-errors count almost tripled in the second (12 winners, 16 UEs). I liked it that he came to the net more often than in the past few matches, mixing up his game a bit more. And overall, it was a good match from David and a good start into this tournament. But the problem with closing out sets/the match remains. And tomorrow, Andy Murray will of course provide a very different kind of challenge.

Quotes from David's press conference:
It was the first match and for that I played very well and I'm very happy [about my performance].
I prefer the court to be faster, rather than slower. But it was a lot faster than what would be ideal for me. (MundoD)

(Jaques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Paris R1 - David vs Marcel Granollers

(Lionel Cironneau/AP Photo)


David has won his first match at Paris-Bercy, defeating Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-1 in merely 66 minutes. He'll now face Andy Murray in tomorrow's second round.

Photos from the match are now up.
And the match is available on David on Screen.

More soon...

(Getty Images/AP Photo; montage VD)

Merely two weeks have gone by since David (now ranked #25) last played against Marcel Granollers. Two weeks to the day, actually, since their first-round encounter at Montpellier. There, David beat Granollers 6-4, 6-4. Scoring the second win in his second match against the Spaniard (after Monte Carlo 2009).

When they met at Montpellier, Marcel Granollers was ranked #68. This week, he has moved up to #45, just one place short of his career-high ranking, thanks to his run at Valencia where he finished as runner-up (he lost to Ferrer in the final). It was his first final at a 500 event and his second in total, usually he's more at home, playing clay-court Challengers.

For David, this match means returning to the Court Central at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, a place of great memories (of this match, for example). And whether his opponent will be full of confidence or tired, or maybe both, hopefully David can make a good start at Bercy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Basel QF - Auf Wiedersehen Basel...


A picture says more than a thousand words. And David's expression here in this photo pretty much sums up his performance today - it took Andy Roddick merely 74 minutes to defeat him 6-4, 6-4.

Playing against a 'serve monster' like Roddick, it's even more important to hold serve as chances are, you'll only get very few chances to break. And one poor service game can be enough to lose a set... David had two of those today, one in the first set (at 2-2), and one in the second set (at 1-1). Both times he went up 30-15 and then made 3 unforced errors in a row to surrender his serve. And those two breaks, both of which David handed over on a silver plate, were enough for Roddick to secure a fairly easy win. After all, he didn't face a single break point in this match.

There were a couple of great points, a couple of good shots from David today. But there were also lots and lots of unforced errors, at first mostly off the forehand but as the match went on, it was also David's backhand that became more and more error-prone. Those errors came in important situations (break point down) but also when he seemed to be in control of the rally. As the match went on, this lack of consistency (and his frustration at not being able to do any damage on return) left its mark on David and his confidence. He didn't really show his frustration on court and it's not clear right now, whether he felt tired from the Cilic match. But towards the end of today's match, Roddick was able to outplay David from the baseline. There was no hope left.
This defeat will hurt and even more so because of the manner in which it happened. In yesterday's post-match interview, David said that reaching the quarterfinal at Basel wasn't good enough for him. Now, it'll have to do. And that's not just Andy Roddick's fault...

Update (6/11)
Match highlights by Andvari (thanks):

Paris Masters Draw

Here's David's draw for next week's Masters event at Paris-Bercy.
David is in Federer's half (which is top half because Rafael Nadal has withdrawn), lower, i.e. Murray's quarter:

[3] Andy Murray (GBR) vs BYE
Marcel Granollers (ESP) vs David Nalbandian (ARG)
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) vs QUALIFIER
BYE vs [13] Marin Cilic (CRO)

[12] Gael Monfils (FRA) vs BYE
Denis Istomin (UZB) vs QUALIFIER
[WC] Arnaud Clement (FRA) vs Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
BYE vs [6] Fernando Verdasco (ESP)

Full draw here.

So David's first-round opponent will be Marcel Granollers - again. Just like in Montpellier, last week. There, David beat Granollers 6-4, 6-4, his second victory over the Spaniard in as many matches. Granollers reached the semifinal at Valencia today. Whether this surprise run will leave him exhausted or inspired - we'll see.
In the second round, an encounter with third seed Andy Murray awaits. David has met Murray before at Paris, in 2008. Back then, David beat Murray in the quarterfinal in a highly entertaining match (see Andvari's highlights clip). This year at Toronto however, Murray booked his first win over David and ended his Washington/Toronto winning streak (match record now 2-1 David).
In the third round, David could meet Marin Cilic again, while his opponent in a hypothetical quarterfinal could be Gael Monfils...

Basel R2 - David vs Andy Roddick

For this year, it's goodbye Basel... David has lost his quarterfinal match against Andy Roddick, who prevailed 6-4, 6-4 after merely 74 minutes. David didn't have a single break point all match.
Next week, he'll play his last tournament of the season, the Paris Masters. The draw will be out later today.

More soon...

(Reuters/AP Photo, montage by VD)

It's almost a bit difficult to believe but the last time these two faced each other on court was all the way back in 2006, at the Masters Cup in Shanghai (see clip). Back then, David beat Roddick in straights, just like he did when they met in the semifinal at Basel in 2003. With their first three matches, however, it was Roddick who prevailed. And among those three was the big one - the US Open semifinal 2003. The defeat that put an end to what many believe was the best chance David ever had of winning a Slam. Made even more bitter by how close David came to winning this match. (A clip of the infamous third-set tiebreak you'll find here.)

Andy Roddick briefly dropped out of the Top 10 for the first time since 2006 lately but has by now made it back to #9 again. Having won the titles at Brisbane and Miami earlier this year, he recently had to retire in the second round at Shanghai because of a groin injury. At Basel however, he has won both of his matches (against Querrey and Golubev) in straights.

The question is of course whether David will find a way of handling Roddick's serve. But also whether it'll be the David from the first set against Cilic, or the one from the second and third set yesterday we'll get to see. - Today's match will provide the answer.

And today, we'll also get to know what David's draw for next week's Masters event at Paris-Bercy will look like. According to the tournament website, the draw will be pulled at 6.30pm CET today. I'll post it after the match.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Basel R2 - David downs Cilic... again

(Highlights by Andvari - thanks; you can download the match via David on Screen)

Here's a link to David's post-match interview for TennisTV.

It was a lot closer than their previous matches but David has managed to keep his perfect record against Marin Cilic, defeating him 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in just under two hours. In the quarterfinal tomorrow, he'll now face Andy Roddick, seeded fourth at this event. David (who has a 2-3 match record against Roddick) hasn't faced the American since 2006.

Once again catching a rather slow start, David immediately lost his serve (after having a break point in Cilic's first service game) and went down 2-0. At 4-2, Cilic gifted the break back with a poor game. But when David served to save the set at 5-4, a couple of unforced errors cost him his serve and the first set.
In the second set, David broke to go up 3-2. Now much more solid on serve, he carried the break through the set, eventually, at 5-4, serving it out to 15.
The third set began with the one break of serve for David that would prove to be decisive. Though at 3-1, David had altogether 4 chances to go up a double break - but wasted all of them. Finally, serving at 5-4, David closed out the match to love.

After having comprehensively lost both of their previous meetings, Cilic seemed to try a different approach this time, playing much more aggressively and taking more risk with his shots to keep David from dictating the rallies. And early on in the match it worked because Cilic was making only few errors and he was serving too well for David to do much damage with his returns.
David on the other hand started out serving and playing rather poorly and not moving well. But as the match went on, he "woke up"; he managed to stabilise his serve (he didn't face a single break point in the second and third set) and found the range on his groundstrokes. Exposing Cilic's forehand (his much weaker wing), playing with great depth to take time away from the Croat and also using the slice (which also worked well at Washington). And just like against Hajek, David served out the match to love.

The first set wasn't pretty but David's level improved during the match, which also indicates that he's fit and had enough left in the tank at the latter stages of it. Whether it'll be enough against Roddick - we'll find out tomorrow.

(Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Basel R2 - David vs Marin Cilic

This time, he didn't have it as easy as in their two previous matches but despite losing the first set, in the end David prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 against Marin Cilic.

This victory grants him a place in tomorrow's quarterfinal, where he will meet Andy Roddick.

More soon...

Photos from the match now on the new photo page.

(photo: Reuters)

(AP Photo/Getty Images; montage by VD)

"Not much about myself that I can blame. I mean, I tried a couple of things and I think he was too good today." That's what Marin Cilic (currently ranked #15) said after his last encounter with David. It took place in the Washington semifinal, where David played what he himself called "a perfect match", defeating Cilic 6-2, 6-2 (highlights clip and report here). And keeping his equally perfect record against the Croat (2-0).

While David's season only really began in the second half of the year, Cilic had an excellent first few months (winning Chennai and Zagreb, and reachings semis at the Australian Open) but hasn't really had that much success since then.
More importantly however, in both of their matches so far, David found a way of neutralising Cilic's serve and putting him under constant pressure with deep returns. Marin Cilic is the kind of player who needs time to set up his shots. If that time is taken away from him, he's in trouble.
In both of their matches so far, David did an excellent job of capitalising on this, both when returning and during the rallies. And hopefully, he can do so again.

In other news, David has been nominated by the ATP for the "Comeback Player of the Year" award (voted for by the players). The ATP World Tour Awards will be announced during the World Tour Finals in London.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Basel R1 - A solid Start

For now, David's 'love story' with Basel continues: in his (untelevised) first-round match today, David beat Czech qualifier Jan Hajek 6-3, 6-4 in 75 minutes. He'll now face sixth seed Marin Cilic in the second round. The match will take place on Thursday.

In the first set, David came under pressure, serving at 2-2. At that moment, he went down 15-40 but saved both break points and held for 3-2. In the following game, he had his first break point and immediately converted it, extending his lead to 4-2. After consolidating his break, David had a first set point when Hajek served to stay in the set but couldn't convert it. Serving for the set at 5-3, David went up 40-0, then missed two further set points (one of them with a double fault) before eventually converting his overall fourth set point, 6-3.
The second set began with David breaking Hajek's serve again and then consolidating his break to lead 2-0. At 3-2, however, he got in trouble on serve again, once more going down 15-40. David ended up facing a total of three break points in this game but he saved all of them and managed not to get broken in this match. Eventually, at 5-4, David served for the match - and this time he did so without any drama. Quickly up 40-0, he converted his first match point, 6-4.

It's of course hardly possible to really say anything about a match, having only been able to follow it on the scoreboard. But from the stats it looks like this was a solid match from David. Apart from taking a couple of attempts to close out the first set, he played well in the important moments. And what's probably most important, this time he served it out to love.

(photos: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Basel R1 - David vs Jan Hajek


David has won his first match at Basel, defeating Jan Hajek 6-3, 6-4 in 75 minutes. He saved all five break points he faced and this time had no difficulties, closing out the match.

Photos from the match now on the new photo page.

More soon...

(photos: Photo; montage: VD)

When David (ranked #29 as of this week) walks onto the court tonight, it'll be to kick off what's his eighth time of playing Basel, a tournament that has been one of the cornerstones of his schedule ever since 2002*. Therefore, David will be greeted by the very familiar sight of the centre court at the St. Jakobshalle - but also the not so very familiar sight of Jan Hajek, his opponent in this first-round match. A player David has never faced before (and someone I've never seen play before, to be honest).
A look at Hajek's stats for this season (he moved up four places this week and is now ranked #94) shows that he prefers to play on clay and that this is where he's had his best results this year (reaching the quarterfinal at Munich and winning the Prostejov Challenger).

I assume that David doesn't really know much about his opponent but while he will be able to have a closer look at Jan Hajek and his game tonight, I guess I'll have to remain ignorant. As once again there will apparently be no stream for the last match of the day - David's match...

*Here's how David's 'love story' with Basel began: with winning the title when he played the tournament for the very first time. (Video by Andvari - thank you.)