Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Auckland Preview

(Getty Images)

Update II
David will be on his way to New Zealand tomorrow (i.e. Thursday):
David Nalbandian has completed his pre-season in Unquillo (training in double shifts) and tomorrow he'll be in Buenos Aires to take the first flight to Auckland.

Last year, the ASB Tennis Centre in Auckland almost became the site of David's comeback on the ATP Tour. In the end, it merely became the place where David picked up the abdominal tear that kept him from playing both this event and the Australian Open.
This year, however, all is ready for a new start. At a newly refurbished venue and on new courts, now matching the colour of those at Melbourne Park (though not matching in terms of the surface; Rebound Ace at Auckland, Plexicushion at the Australian Open).

Overall, it'll be David's third time of playing the Heineken Open in Auckland. Back in 2002 he reached the quarterfinal, while in 2003 he lost in the first round to the man, standing next to him here - Mariano Zabaleta.

The Field
Auckland has 28-player field, with eight seeds (the top four get a bye in the first round). David was originally bound to be the fifth seed but due to Nicolas Almagro's addition to the field by means of a wildcard, David will now be seeded sixth. The other seeded players are: David Ferrer (top seed), John Isner, Albert Montañes, Juan Monaco, Thomaz Bellucci and Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Among the unseeded players there's a name that will have caught David's eye - Victor Hanescu, Romania's #1 Davis Cup player. And I guess it's safe to say that David wouldn't mind getting a match against him...

The Draw & The Time Difference
...But whether there's any chance of that happening, that will of course depend on the draw. It will take place on Saturday, 3pm local. That's Saturday, 2am GMT, Friday 9pm EST/11pm Argentina.
In other words, Auckland times are: +13 hours GMT, +18 hours EST and +16 hours Argentina.
Due to the time difference, organising an up-to-date coverage here on Vamos David will be quite an adventure... I'll see what I can do.

One more thing - because of David's delayed comeback last year, he won't have any ranking points to defend up until the Copa Claro (formerly Telmex) in Buenos Aires.

Play at the Heineken Open in Auckland starts on Monday, January 10th.

And now for a completely different kind of preview - the new Yonex collection. Lleyton Hewitt is wearing it at the Hopman Cup this week: light version & dark version. So this (or something similar) is what we can expect David to be wearing for the upcoming tournaments.


  1. Well, here's my two cents on the draw. First of all, this Auckland field obviosuly isn't too deep. The three seeded players who I could see having a chance at beating Nalbandian are Ferrer, Isner, and Kohlscreiber.

    Going through those three:

    Ferrer is always tough because of his movement and good stamina for generating series of long rallies. He is also mentally strong. Many of his matches against Nalbandian have been wars. Nonetheless, as we've seen in the Davis Cup 2008 and the recent Rogers Cup match, Nalbandian's best is on a level that Ferrer simply cannot reach.

    Isner has the monster serve that Nalbandian will have to contend with, of course, but Nalbandian at his best would evetually smash Isner with a far superior baseline game. A loss to Isner might be slightly understandably simply because of the serve, but there's no way we shouldn't be deeply disappionted if Nalby loses to the likes of Isner. He is just a flat out superior tennis player.

    Kohlscreiber is probably the most worrisome to me. He can really hit the snot out of the ball and when his one-handed backhand is working, he can play some very effective quick-strik tennis. But, of course, Nalbandian playing at his best should win convincignly. They have played once at Indian Wells, so Nalbandian should have a good idea of what to expect. On the other hand, it's been a long time since that match, so neither player may have much of a recollection of it.

    All in all, this draw is very ripe for Nalbandian to march through it and start the season with a title. Hopefully, he takes advantage of it.

  2. So what you're saying is that David at his best can beat all those players. Agreed. But whether he'll be at his best - that's the question.
    As is whether going deep at Auckland would leave him tired for the AO.
    I guess winning a couple of matches would be good enough for me.

  3. Chris cmon Isner is not "flat out a superior tennis player". He's got a better serve i'll give him that but nothing else really.

  4. No John, I meant that Nalbandian is flat out superior to Isner, lol. I personally dislike Isner's game and persona probably more than anyone who follows tennis.

  5. To Julia: I don't think Nalbandian needs to play his best to beat any one of the three I listed, but I do want to stress that if he is at his best none of those three have a prayer.

    As for getting tired. Well, of course. That's why I said a few weeks back that going to Auckland or Sydney was risky and unwise. If he wanted to play a real tournament before the AO, he should've done 1 of the 3 this week. If he wanted some light exhos the week before Melbourne, he should have played Kooyong. But now that he's committed to Auckland, all we can do is hope that he does well in it. If he entered the tournament, I assume that he has some designs on winning it. Nonetheless, if he loses a Round of 16 match at the Australian Open and then cites fatigue from playing a lot in the past couple weeks as the reason, I'm going to smack my forehead and say "DUH". For someone who skipped Tokyo and Shanghai due to fatigue from tournaments played two months earlier, packing the schedule like this appears to be rather inappropriate, to put it mildly.

    But maybe it will work out. Let's hope.

  6. I think the main goal is to get a couple of matches before the AO. So if that works out, I'm happy.

  7. David was drawn against Kohlschreiber in this last year, as I recall.

  8. Chris,

    From what I recall, David has played Kohlschreiber a total of three times, with David holding a 2-1 advantage. The first meeting was the 03 US Open, the site of one of David's most legendary GS runs (aside from Wimby, of course); the second was Indian Wells, where David ALMOST lost that match being 4-1 down in the third-set TB; and the third time in 07 Monte Carlo, where David ended up retiring due to a back problem. They may meet again, and judging on past results and trends, I pick David to win-again.

  9. Istabraq, that's right. The comeback match last year should've been against Philipp Eberhard Herrmann Kohlschreiber.

  10. You're right, Tiffany. I had forgotten about that Monte Carlo match entirely.

    Well, with that amount of history between them, that's even better; there shouldn't be any mysteries. Nalbandian can approach a match with Kohlschreiber knowing full well what he wants to do and then execute the plan. With that familiarity and hopefully Nalbandian being sharp, he should be able to win in a pretty straightforward manner.

  11. i agree on almost everything up there, Yes, Nalbandian at his best can beat anyone without exceptions, he can Bagel Rafa when his at his best, and again he doesnt have to be to beat the players Chris mentioned. Bur am really confused here, do i want him to win Auckland and lose in a 3rd round in the Aussie, or win couple of matches and does a better result in the later. Well it doesnt have to be either, if he has a bye, which i didnt know before, that means 4 matches to win the tourny ? if he can win them in straight sets or at least a non 3 tiebreakers, it might not take a lot from him, really.
    If David plays like he did in late 2010, the Auckland title would be in the bag. And hopefully it wont be a LU number 2 waiting for him lol.

  12. http://www.heinekenopen.co.nz/players.html

    Julia, y i cant c David's name here, it really pisses me off when a tournament's official websites can be this much out2date

  13. David won't get a bye (only the top four seeds do), so it would be 5 matches to win the title.

    As for the tournament website - hey, at least they're up to 8 player profiles now. Until recently, they had only one on that page, John Isner all by himself...
    If you'd like confirmation, David's name on the entry list - see here.

  14. ow i was kinda happy when i though he will skip R1, well potato tomato ? lol. his name is on the list, thats a relief i guess.
    and u might wanna listen to this, nothing new, just the tennis.com editors talking about 2011 season, and they said concerning DC if delpo is healthy, Argentina will win.they get to that part after 5 min of talkin i guess, u might not be that patient.

  15. Julia, when I looked at the tournament website the other day and saw it only had John Isner on the player profiles, I thought the other players must have seen his first round match at Wimbledon and got frightened off. ;)

    Don't forget your pom-poms. :)

  16. Noubar, you are just as puzzled as I am by Nalbandian's decision to play the week before the Australian Open. Even if he plays fabolous in Auckland and wins all 5 of his matches, that's a meager 250 points and a nice but rather insignificant title. He said his goal is to get back into the Top 10. Getting to the quarters or even R16 of Melbourne would do more toward that end than winning Auckland altogether.

    Julia said in response to me a few weeks ago that the loss to Lu had more to do with the hip injury than fatigue from Sydney. I have to disagree with her there. Not that the hip wasn't necessarily bothering him somewhat, but he was well enough to later make the semis of Buenos Aires and the R16 at IW where he played the legendary match against Nadal. A fresh Nalbandian would've beaten Lu, in my estimation.

    What makes this even more baffling is just two and a half months ago we were all sitting here, astounded at Nalbandian's Asia pull-out which he attributed in part to fatigue from the summer stretch. He then proceeded to say that he would adjust his schedule in the future, which appeared to mean that he would try to avoid playing multiple weeks in a row, especially before Slams and Davis Cup. But then he proceeds to schedule Auckland as well as three clay events before the first DC tie against measly little Romania. Even Federer and Nadal - who have the best stamina of all players on tour - avoid playing the week before a Slam in order to avert the possibility of wearing themselves out. Again, I just don't understand it.

    Hopefully, he has energy throughout his time in Melbourne and can go deep. I really would like to see him do well there.

  17. If you think of Auckland as a chance to get some matches ahead of the AO it makes sense.

    What I don't get, Chris, is that on the one hand, you think playing Auckland is a terrible mistake that might cost him at the AO. But on the other hand you want him to win it, which would of course mean playing as many matches as possible.
    And what I said in response to you was that at the beginning of 2009, the hip injury was the main concern about David. I never said the loss against Lu was the direct result of his injury. Or of being tired from Sydney. Back then I simply thought he played a really crappy match.

    In the recent interviews I posted here, David said he feels ready for a more serious (his term) schedule. So why not enter those events? He can still pull out if it gets too much. For me, that schedule shows that he still wants to play. And for me, that's a good thing.

    DC is DC and a 100 times more so if played at the Parque Roca. Apart from that, David still has some making up to do for his glorious performance at Lyon (and I don't mean the match.)

    Istabraq - of course not. ;)

  18. By the way, there's still one WC left for Auckland and as I've just read, the organisers are hoping to get Söderling (but for that to happen he'd have to lose at Brisbane today). We'll see who it'll turn out to be...

  19. Julia, first of all, you misunderstood my comment about DC. I did not mean to diminish Davis Cup, but actually quite the contrary. I know how meaningful it is to Nalbandian, so I don't want him to get injured or tired before it. Considering that Ruiz-Cotorro has told him numerous times that playing on clay is the riskiest, why would you play three non-Masters clay events in a span of 5 weeks? I'm sorry but that sounds mad. If he averages a quarterfinal result between Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Acupulco, then that's roughly 10 clay-court matches before DC and before the first Maters event of the year. I'm sorry but that has the potential for injury disaster written all over it if you ask me. I love seeing him play, but I also want him to do well in what's most important: Slams, DC, and Masters Events. Anything more is a bonus. And you can't possibly argue that his pre-AO and pre-Romania schedule is optimal for doing well in what matters most.

    I'm all for getting matches before Melbourne. But if you want an offical tournament, he should've done it this week. If you want some relaxed exhos the week before, then play Kooyong. You don't enter an official ATP event the week before Melbourne begins. That's what I am saying.

    Yes, you are right about my mixed feelings about Auckland. But how can I feel any different about it? If he's playing in the quarters next Thursday, am I supposed to root against him so that he loses and he can rest for the Australian? I couldn't do that as a fan of his. Neither could your or anyone else here.

    About Lu, I don't remember the match well enough to know if he looked really tired or not, but the point is, playing the week before the Australian Open begins doesn't allow you to begin quick and spry if you've played into the weekend the previous week; you can't come in, as Nalbandian did in Washington, as a giant ball of energy. You see it on the summer hardcourts all the time. Hardly ever does somebody go far in Canada and Cincinatti successively.

    Now of course I want Nalbandian to play, but rationally we know that neither he nor any other tennis player is a robot with infinte energy to play week after week. You also posted interviews last October in which he said that in 2011 he would adjust his schedule to avoid exhaustion, in particular by avoiding play in successive weeks. Well, he has since turned around and planned by far the busiest start to the year pre-Indian Wells that he will have ever had should he indeed play all these events he has entered. This, after saying that he wants to make the Top 10 again, but the key is to avoid injury.

    Look, I hope it works out and he just wins everything he plays in. But this plan just looks very dangerous and risky. The last thing I want is the replay of injury frustration, pull-outs, missing Slams, etc. that we've had to endure the past 2 years.

  20. You're worried that he'll get injured again. Okay, I think we all got that much.
    And nobody knows what might happen. But as I've said before, just because David has entered an event that doesn't mean he has to play it.
    That David has decided to play next week is his choice. You can of course disagree with it. But to go on and on and on about it is - I'm sorry - simply pointless. After 10 years on the Tour I think David knows what he's doing. And he knows why he changed his view from being careful with his scheduling to feeling ready for more ambitious plans. That's good news - I think.

    As is the new season, about to start for David. Something to look forward to, to be excited about. I guess I just don't understand why you insist on focusing on all that could go wrong and how terrible that would be. I don't think I can be accused of taking David and his matches too lightly. But I think you're taking it all way too seriously.
    You see, I was always happy that the comments section here was a place to talk about David, to share your frustration, disappointment and worries at times - but also to just chat and have a bit of fun. Even when things weren't going so well. And I'd like for it to stay that way. Especially when things haven't even started yet to go well or not well.
    I've tried my best, answering your questions, having discussions. And I ended up repeating myself a lot (see above) because I never really got the impression that what I said was being heard.
    Therefore, I'll now leave it at that.

  21. Well, I don't see why you get so frustrated at me voicing my opinion. No else seems to be bothered near as much as you.

    I'm very sorry for keeping any discussion going when there are no matches and therefore not much to talk about; apparently, that's a huge crime in your eyes. If you make a postt and no one has commented for 24 hours, so I respond and start some conversation, then apparently I'm taking things "too serious". Well, I'm sorry.

    If my comments are so vexing to you, then you can just politely request that for the New Year I not comment. Instead, you misinterpret both my comments and my feelings and then gently reprimand me over and over. Yet no one seems to have a problem as much as you.

    Personally, I don't think my comments at "dead" moments are as poisonous as you seem to think they are. No one but you seems to have such a problem.

    If it is your wish, I will simply refrain from posting here. Just go ahead and ask, lol.

  22. Julia, finally they fixed this player profile thing :)
    Chris, the past is past man, and david has already made his decisions, we can only go along with it, me 2 agree that Brisbane was a better choice, but it is what it is, lets just wait and c, i feel really optimistic this year, and am happily waiting for Auckland, No1 knows whats best better than David, he looks really excited to start over this year. And if you are waiting from Julia to tell you to stop posting here, your not gna get that lol.
    So am gna root for Soderling today and even tomorrow, lets hope he doesn't go to Auckland.

  23. Chris, I think the problem is that you tend to write overly long posts about things that can be summed up in much, much fewer words.

  24. I am also worried like Chris. I also don't forget David's dramatical moments in UO 2003 or AO 2006 like him but I keep now everything in me and don't write my frustrations about the past any more.
    I am also not happy that David plays next week. That means that he doesn't believe that he can go deep in AO and wants to get some praxis short before AO so that he doesn't lose in first week again like he did it since Wimbledon 2006.

    I hope that he doesn't play more than 3 matches to rest for AO. I want that he is in top form in AO and I want also that he has full energy there. His main problem is physical but he adds fuel to the fire.
    I want that his plans to win the AO and not to play in second week.

    Let's see what's comin.

  25. Yeah, why not wait and see what's coming? What the draw will be like. How many matches David will play at Auckland and how long those matches will be.
    And as he hasn't made it to the second week of a Slam in a while, why not focus on getting there for a start?
    I'm not worried, not now. I'm excited about what's ahead. :)

    And Noubar, Söderling won his match so I think that means he won't play Auckland. No need to support him. ;)

  26. I'm with you, Noubar. I'm optimistic for the new season. David played well in the exhos and seems to be extremely confident starting the year. Would one of the tournaments this week have been a better choice? Probably. But, David is David. He's going to do what he feels is best. We've got to remember there is a bit of genius in this guy. Stubbornness, too. Two or three rounds in Auckland would be best. If he wins the tournament, so be it. I say great. My gut feeling is that David is going to pull off some surprises this year. I can't wait for Auckland to start.

  27. Chris, I agree with what Krystle says in that I think your posts are unnecessarily long. And now I’m going to write an unusually long post myself, since you seem to be inviting feedback.

    I don’t think you can assume that people are happy with what you post just because they don’t reply to you directly on here. Most people prefer a “quiet life” and don’t want to be impolite or get involved in an argument. On the various forums I read and contribute to, I learn which posters tend to write stuff which annoys me, bores me, or makes me wonder why I wasted a few minutes of my life reading their posts – and skip over them in future. I imagine this is a far more common reaction than writing confrontational replies to the poster concerned. So don’t be too sure that a lack of complaints to you on here means that no-one has a problem with what you write. The other thing I know can happen when people feel uncomfortable with a particular poster is that they end up being driven away from a forum and going elsewhere.

    This is a friendly place to come and comment – after all, we have supporting David as a common interest on here – and that is important to me and, I’m sure, many other regulars. Some of your recent posts have been a little aggressive, particularly towards Julia. You have a habit of addressing your posts to individuals, but what you say to one person is there for all of us to read and I for one don’t appreciate it. I think it is very difficult for Julia to ignore you in your more belligerent moments, as this is her blog and of course she doesn’t want regulars, occasional visitors and potential newcomers to be put off joining in.

    As for your recent tennis-related comments, yes, we all want to find things to discuss while David is between tournaments. I don’t see there’s much mileage to be had in venting our frustration at David’s decisions because we don’t agree with them. We can’t influence his choices, and I’m sure he makes none of them lightly. There will certainly be all sorts of factors we know nothing about. It might look riskier to us to play the week before the AO rather than two weeks before, but playing matches is what tennis players do, and he can’t wrap himself in cotton wool between “important” events.

    So, rather than ask you to stop posting altogether, may I suggest you keep your posts a bit shorter, avoid going over and over the same ground, and please keep it friendly.

    Everyone – I apologise for the length of this post – I promise this is the first and last time. :)

  28. Well, there are some nice, positive posts that keep this a happy(ish), friendly place. Looks like quite a few aren’t keen on David’s choice of Auckland – but it’s still all about accepting it and looking forward to the year we hope he’s going to have.

    And by the way, I quite like the look of the new Yonex gear, as modelled by Lleyton Hewitt. Of course, it will look better on David. ;-)
    What does anyone else think?

  29. I really like the dark version. Though there's going to be more versions than those two shirts and I'm afraid that one of those will be yellow again...

  30. Krystle, I like the light one too, but I think the dark one may look better on David. And the contrast of the blue is nice on that one.

    I generally prefer light colours for tennis clothes - must be because I was brought up on Wimbledon. ;) What I really don't like, which a lot of the Adidas players wear, is black shoes with white socks. It always makes me think of people who play tennis twice a year in the park. :)

  31. I would like to see David playing in dark blue with some red and orange

  32. It reminds me a bit of the 2008 Sydney/Australian Open outfit, the white one. And I preferred the lighter outfit back then, compared to the black one, and I think the same will be true this time!

    I think the bright coloured shoes are worse - bright blue or yellow.

  33. True - remember Nole's "ruby slippers"? And last year a lot of players wore white Nike shoes with a big splash of yellow on them - it looked as though they had kicked over a tin of paint on their way to the court!

    Ashot - you'll have to get designing for Yonex.

  34. Well, Krystal and Istabraq, I don't think that most of my posts are "too long". Some might be, but if no one else is posting, I don't see what the problem is with starting some discussion.

    As for Nalbandian's matches, as I've said over and over, I hope this all works out somehow. It can, and maybe it will. It's just that I am - quite justifiably - paranoid about any repeat of the injury/pullouts fiasco of 2010.

  35. @Ashot, yes I want some orange as well!

  36. As for me, like Krystle, liked the Light one more, White looks great on David, i want to c the shoes 2, maybe its the same as the old one.
    and i really, i mean really hope, there won't be a yellow shirt this year, i can have my peace with the orange though.
    Julia, simon reed wrote on his new article, that David probably gonna defeat a Nadal or Federer in a slam this year, as a gift for Novak or Murray to go ahead and win it lol.

  37. Oh no. Please don't tell me Simon Reed has made a prediction like that about David... Reed is legendary for always being wrong with everything he predicts. There are entire threads devoted to laughing about that on some of the big forums.
    Just hope David won't become a victim of the Simon Reed Curse...

  38. hahah, i completely agree with you, i know about simon reed, even on the same article, u must read the comments, all saying this guy is crazy. But at least he said Nalbandian is the player to watch in 2011, that part i liked

  39. Phew, if he only made a general statement like that - then David might still have a chance... :)
    It's just that whenever Reed says this or that player (usually Murray) will definitely win a Slam or become #1 then that's basically a guarantee that it's not going to happen.
    But with a statement like that, I still hope it'll be okay... ;)

  40. ya, me 2. Any idea what time the draw will be out ?

  41. I guess an hour or two after the ceremony, as usual. Something like 3 or 4am GMT.

  42. I don't think I'll be staying up for it, though. I'll post it Saturday morning.

  43. Yeah, don't worry about it, Julia. Any of us who are up can get it from the tournament site. You need your rest for what we hope could be a long week. Auckland is 20 hours ahead of me, so I'm looking at it like I'm a day behind. Krystle, you're probably one of the few who doesn't mind Auckland's time zone at all.

  44. John, the time difference is a little too perfect for me, lol. I'll be working almost the entire time the tournament is on.

  45. lol Krystle.
    well like john said, one of the guys will be up and paste it on the comments sections.

  46. Yeah John, I basically expect David to go deep at this one - just to make things difficult for me... ;)

  47. Krystle, I know what you mean. I like the Australian Open because I can choose to watch tennis instead of sleeping, but I can’t choose to watch tennis instead of working when the tennis is on in Europe. :/

  48. I find the USO much better suited for that, to be honest (though I like the AO better). For choosing tennis over sleeping. With the time difference being only half of what it'll be nexr week.

    Anyway, the advantages of being a freelancer... :)

  49. Yes, I find the US tennis timing quite good too. Anything but Europe.

    It's probably just as well I'm not a freelancer. I might forget to get my work done at all. ;)

  50. I will of course be here for the draw though (or around that time anyway). Since that's on in the weekend.

    Yeah, there's nothing worse than sitting at work when a match you really want to watch is on.

    I love the timing of European tournaments. Prime time night tennis here. :) Good thing there are two Slams on that time zone and many tournaments surrounding them too.