Friday, March 4, 2011

Davis Cup R1 vs Romania - Day 1 Review

(Mauro Alfieri/La Nacion)

I once wrote that there are two versions of David Nalbandian, one on the Tour and another, different one in Davis Cup. The one we know from the Tour would've retired from this match, maybe halfway through the second set. But the other, different David remained on court because "you can't quit" (quote) in Davis Cup. And least of all when you're playing at home. In the end, after three hours and four minutes, David won the match 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 and with it the first point for Argentina.
Later, Juan "Pico" Monaco beat Victor Hanescu 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-1, 6-1 to give the Argentine team a 2-0 lead after the first day.
Asked whether he'll be able to play another match on Sunday, David first said no, then - we'll see. But according to Infobae and Danny Miche, it's clear now that he won't play.

As David said after the match, he felt good during the week and ready for this match. And initially, it looked like he might get away with playing it. For although he was being cautious with his movement from the start, it was the normal caution David has been playing with on clay ever since surgery. But then, something went very wrong. How and when exactly - that's still a bit of a mystery as there are varying statements from David about it:
"I'm not really well, I did everything I could. I felt rather bad, I had a normal start but halfway through the first set I began to feel bad. I was suffering the whole match through."
"I felt pains that I didn't have during the week, that with the adductor was new. It began to trouble me at the end of the first set and from the second set on it was unbearable. I lost all ability to move and had this been a different tournament I would've retired, without a doubt."
"In the second set, my adductor started to hurt. In the third set I tried not to move and then happened what happened. I couldn't play a normal rally."

Going into this match, it was clear that David's strategy for this match would be to take risks and keep the points as short as possible. Ungur on the other hand, tried to move David as much as possible and for that, he threw everything he had at David, going for his shots and also playing a lot of drop-shots. This strategic contrast made for a rather interesting first set, during which David saved break points (a specialty of Davis Cup David, I might add) in three of his service games, including the one when he served for the set. At that point, I didn't notice that he was having any problems.

At the start of the second set, the cameras showed David, talking to the team during changeovers. It was the first sign that he was in trouble - but still, he went on to play what would become the shortest and most one-sided set of the match. Solid on serve, David broke Ungur for 2-1 and then later went up a double break to lead 5-2 before serving it out.

In the third set, David, now visibly struggling, tried to ration his movement, reserving his bigger efforts for the important rallies. But somehow, he still managed to take it up a notch in those moments, like when he held for 3-3 after having been down 0-40. Having held serve easily to stay in the set and get to 5-5, David was one point away from the tiebreak before two errors (caused by his increasingly limited movement) cost him his serve and the third set.

At the start of the fourth set, it became clear that David was now trying to move better again, probably knowing full well that he wouldn't survive a fifth set. The point that earned David what would turn out to be the decisive break was also the one that was responsible for probably the worst moment for David in this match. (You can watch it here.) After that rally, David was in tears during the changeover. But he played on, and even had the chance to go up a double break. Still, in the end, that one break was enough, David served for the match at 5-4 and finally converted his first match point with a service winner.

- That's probably not a very good summary. But I have to admit that watching this match and watching David suffering has left me a bit shaken...

Some more quotes from David:
"I felt horrible on court today. I could have retired from the match because the pain was unbearable but I'd never give up in Davis Cup, let alone playing in my country."

"We thought I'd be able to hold up better but it didn't work. I can't take a step."

"During one of the changeovers, I was crying in pain. It was one of the worst moments I ever had on court. I couldn't even walk half a metre."
(Quotes: Cancha Llena & Telam)
What this match will mean for the coming weeks and months of David's career, well, that remains to be seen. But for my part, I cannot help but be reminded of a certain match, three years ago. Another match that Davis Cup David played and that also ended in tears - his five-set victory over Robin Söderling... Let's hope that this is where the similarity ends.

(above and to the right: Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)


  1. Thanks for the report, Julia. It does make quite hard reading. Now we have to wait for whatever comes next. I suppose we're used to that. :/

  2. Nice report,from what Ive read about sports hernia if it hasnt got worse he shouldnt be out for that long,well see what he says in the following days.

  3. Believe when I say that the ones who couldn't watch it, they were lucky.

    I never thought I was going to see David Nalbandian crying from pain during the changeover. David Nalbandian chocking tears and couldn't talking because he wasn't able to stop crying. I'm not being dramatic but for a moment I felt he was almost apologising for playing the match. He never thought he was going to felt such pain, that's for sure. And as I said at the other thread: it was the easiest point, I think Schwank could've played it. And that was part of his desperation.
    I follow Daid since 02, if you ever said to me that I was going to watch him like today, I'd say "you're on drugs"

  4. that was my message, It got posted before I put my name...

  5. As I've said, it reminded me of the Söderling match where he ruined his hip. And I was hoping I'd never get to see him like that again...

    Thanks, Istabraq and Adrian.
    Some reports are fun to write... - and some really are not.

  6. anyone have highlights?

  7. Guys, this is a 7-minutes-vid about yesterday that I did

  8. Nice to see Chela and Schwank won the doubles to put to rest any need for heroics tomorrow.

  9. probably that was david's last match of 2011.I hope he can return to the tour at some point.i realy enjoy his game.He is still the most talented player in the field.His shots are so effort less.

  10. No way this will be his last match of 2011,nice win for Chela and Schwank,Czech Republic and Serbia are in some problems,if they go out the Argies have a clean path to the finals.

  11. Anonymous, lmao man.
    based on what you think this will be David's last match of the year, is he gonna serve in the army or something ?
    nice doubles win, but Adrian, i know the Serbians are in trouble specially that their doubles tea is supper, but i dont think the Czechs will be a walk in the park, Stepanek/Berdych ?

  12. specially that the indian doubles team is super*

  13. The Czechs lead 2-1,since Stepanek isnt playing the first round,if somehow Golubev upsets Berdych I think Hajek would lose the 5 rubber.I think that Argentina will be the host,which means clay,Berdych isnt a force there,if Del Potro plays I think Argentina are a big favorite to take the tie.Serbia is a potential SF,nows the chance to take them out,while they are without Djokovic.

  14. in this case ya, are the Czech playing at their home or away tie?

  15. YA,the Czechs are playing at home,indoor hard,Serbia just won the doubles after a epic 4 set tie break.

  16. Well, according to some journalist, David said that he still didn't have the results of all the studies he got today in the morning.
    But there's an edema in the whole inguinal zone. And some worry about what exactly he has on his right adductor (almost sure got injured becuase he forced the other leg due to the pain). They're waiting for the results.
    IMO, I think they'll have to wait until the zone stops being swolen. Since yesterday he was with painkillers and ice. He even was today watching the match in flip-flops... over clay !!! (ouch that hurts!) Until the zone and pain calms down a little they won't be able to touch him.
    And La nacion ( pretty much confirmed what I said: there was no way in hell they could imagine that amount of pain. The articule says people close to him said they never saw him playing so hurt and showing signs like that, to the point of crying. Seems his family ended in tears too when they saw him after the match.

    And I asked some friends and they all said the same, what probably made worst the pain was the "inflitacion", the injection he got to play. If he wasn't in pain (not so much at least according to the trainnings)was a huge mistake doing it. The only exception was giving him something that could put to sleep to Godzila. And even in that case, the effect weren't going to last. Because if usually the effects don't last long.. on tennis and in that zone? the effect is short and the pain after t is worse than usual.
    I got an "infiltracion" once and I didn't play at the end(volleyball), the effects were gone less than an hour after the shot and I was almost banging my head against the wall due to the pain (and I have tolerance to pain) was like, "I felt way better before the injection". and I wasn't playing. I can't imagine what David went through yesterday.

  17. I used to be in favor of him playing IW and Miami,but after i saw what happened yesterday,theres no need fot that,hope he informs the media about his plans in the upcoming days.

  18. Why must the man with the strongest heart and the most talent on court suffer so much...

  19. I'll wait until there's real news about David's situation. And about what's going to happen now. Right now, it's all speculation. And I don't want to take part in that, to be honest.

    But it was good to see him at the doubles match today, looking a lot more cheerful again. And no reason to worry about the flip-flops, after all, he always likes to wear those, whether it's appropriate, or not. ;)

  20. If Czechs win.would Argentina be the host or no ?

  21. QF will be another home tie for Argentina, whether they play against Czech Rep or Kazakhstan.

  22. How do they decide who gets to host the tie,never knew by what criteria?

  23. thank you, This is a wonderful thing.

  24. Adrian, that depends on where the last tie between two countries was played (unless it took place in the distant past - I think 1970 is the cut).
    If two countries have never met before, like Argentina and Kazakhstan or Serbia, then it's decided by lot, i.e. they simply flip a coin.

  25. Wow haha,I always thought it was something much more complicated,I thought it had something to do with the DC rankings.Thanks for the info.