Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Warning & More on David's Situation

(AP Photo/NASA)

That's what it looks like from space - Hurricane Irene, on its way to what could be New York City. For three years in a row now the US Open final had to be postponed to Monday because of bad weather. But this time, disaster might strike already at the start of the tournament - and on a whole new scale. While the USTA has already cancelled the traditional Kid's Day today, public transport has been shut down in New York and areas close to sea level are being evacuated.

Right now, the US Open website still maintains that play is scheduled to start on Monday at 11am EST. Adding, however, that meaningful updates about the situation won't be possible until Sunday evening (local time). The tournament website's page with the latest info on the weather and its impact on the schedule you'll find here.

On a different, David-related note: Yesterday, the following article appeared on Jorge Viale, the author, writes for Argentine, as well as international publications and he's also the one behind Fue Buena, the blog I often rely on for info. After David's loss to Andy Murray at Cincy, we had a discussion here on VD about David's situation. Here's Jorge Viale's take on it.
That image of last year, David Nalbandian returning to the circuit and knocking down Top 20 players at Washington and Toronto as if it was a game of bowling, seems far away now, both in terms of time and when it comes to the chance of repeating itself.

The former world no. 3 is going through a different phase now, one where everything is more difficult. Something that's logical for a high-level athlete in this kind of situation, after having had hip surgery. Previously, his ability was praised to reintegrate himself quickly into the circuit but the situation now is a different one. Training and playing practice sets isn't enough. The level you recover by playing matches but the victories don't come. Nalbandian is trapped in a vicious circle: He doesn't win because he doesn't play, he doesn't play because he doesn't win. Due to the double hernia and adductor surgery he was away from the Tour between February and June and played 23 matches this year. Gael Monfils, the Top 10 player with the least amount of matches, has 42.

"I'm far away from the level I'm trying to achieve," says Nalbandian while he drops down the in the ranking. This week he's ranked #77 and that's a figure which shows the present situation. For the first time since the Australian Open in 2002 he won't be on the list of the 32 seeded players. On that occasion, he won one round. Half a year later, he reached the final at Wimbledon, his only appearance in a Slam final.

Is it a physical problem or one that has to do with his tennis? Even though the two go together, those who know Nalbandian will point to the latter. Physically, today he's at 70% compared to the ideal state, thinner and with less muscle mass, the result of a flu virus that made him lose weight and which required four different antibiotics. Returning to the top level consists of three phases. First to get healthy again, then build on your strength and then much later starting with tennis and fine-tuning the strokes as quickly as possible.

His changed figure was the topic of discussion among the accredited journalists at the American tournaments. Several of them were surprised by it and declared on Twitter that Nalbandian was now in ideal shape. During the Masters in Madrid and Paris 2007, when Toni Nadal himself turned to Martin Jaite and told him he couldn't believe David's level of play against his nephew, Nalbandian weighed 84 kilos. The current American hardcourt swing he began with 79.

"I don't have any injuries or pain and that's positive," the Argentine said. The problem is the lack of matches and it showed itself clearly in his defeat against Stanislas Wawrinka at Montréal: poorly connected shots, the difficulty to keep up with the intensity of the rallies against the best in world, faulty shot-selection and a central problem, the serve. He has problems with the ball toss, with the coordination and therefore he doesn't have confidence in the shot. During his loss to Andy Murray at Cincinnati he showed signs of recovery during the exchanges from the back of the court but the serve again proved to be fateful: only 45% of first serves won and five double faults.

Technical problems might be bigger without a coach at his side who's able to provide an exact analysis but Nalbandian isn't thinking about getting one until at least next year. There's an example from the past that might make him think a coach is not the immediate solution. When he won the Masters Cup in 2005, he did so after five months of travelling only with a physio and a kinesiologist. "I'm not going to change much just for a couple of tournaments, I've done it like that for a while now. Later on I'll decide what I'm going to do," said Nalbandian. Candidate for the job in 2012: Alberto Mancini [Argentina's previous Davis Cup captain].

"Hopefully I can get the kind of continuity that I haven't had. To be up there in the ranking you have to compete. Since 2008 I haven't been able to keep a normal schedule, that's when the problems with my hip began and I had surgery in 2009. At the start of 2010 I didn't play well until after Wimbledon. I'm trying to make a last attempt at a new start," said Nalbandian on the show Buen Momento, on Radio La Red.

After hip surgery in 2009 the recommendation of Spanish doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro was to avoid weight bearing exercises. In these last two years, Nalbandian doesn't run long distances, doesn't do sessions at the gym and also doesn't do jumps. Instead, the physical work-out with his physio Claudio Galasso includes biking, exercises in the swimming pool and only during this last stage, after the improvement in that zone, some light jogging. Today, Nalbandian wouldn't put up with another surgical intervention that requires a long pause. He wouldn't have the patience to begin the recovery process yet again.

Nalbandian works within these limitations (you just have to look at others who have been affected by hip injuries, like Hewitt, Haas and Feña Gonzalez, they also had a difficult time, returning). His physio should compensate this with exercises on court (drills), those tasks that are designed to improve speed and endurance. Still, you cannot replace the work that's done at the gym in terms of building strength.

Despite the not exactly great situation now, Nalbandian's condition improves from day to day. Galasso and kinesiologist Diego Rodriguez worked with him in Miami until Thursday, today [Friday] they travel to New York and on Saturday, if Hurricane Irene allows it, it's time for the first training on the stage of the last Slam of the year. The penultimate part in a long series of events, the kind that leaves Nalbandian tired - the players who travel so much suffer from being away from home more than anything else - and ending with the Davis Cup in Serbia.

What motivates the Argentine to go on playing, four months before his 30th birthday? The first reason, and known to all, has just been mentioned: the Davis Cup. After the disappointment of the defeat against Spain at Mar del Plata 2008, Argentina has another chance this year with Juan Martin Del Potro on the team again. The tie in Belgrade will be extremely tough since it's an away tie and if both teams get there in full force. But we all know that it's a special competition, one where they can be surprises. If not this year, there's going to be another chance for Nalbandian next year.

The second objective is the Olympic Games in London 2012, his last chance to experience the Olympics as a professional tennis player. It could also be the first time that Nalbandian gets to play the Olympics well-prepared after he was already in Athens 2004 but then picked up an abdominal injury before his first match and had problems with his hip in Beijing 2008. Next year it's also going to be something special since it'll take place on grass at Wimbledon.

The pre-season in December is going to be crucial for a good start in 2012, which will probably be his last year on the professional circuit. The Davis Cup is what gives him the strength to continue. In a matter of weeks, Argentina will need the best Nalbandian possible, even under these circumstances, to stand a chance in the land of Djokovic.


  1. Thanks for translating, Julia - interesting stuff. And sad to see in black and white the assumption that next season will be David's last, though it's not really a surprise given all he's been through these past couple of years.

    I checked in as I just saw a tweet from Judy Murray (Andy's Mum of course) that David has been practising indoors with Rafa today in New York.

  2. Thanks for the info, joyce63. So David is in NYC... I just hope that Irene isn't going to wreak too much havoc on the city, also because I have family there.

    About the article I'd like to add that Viale is neither a "David hater" nor someone who favours sensationalism. For me, he's one of the most reliable Argentine sources and someone whose views I respect.

  3. Excellent article. Thanks for the translation, Julia. Glad to know David is already in New York. TY Joyce. Just tuned to see if Isner and Benneteau were playing at Winston-Salem. Figured it would be pouring rain, but it's only cloudy and windy. Could be pretty ugly in New York tomorrow. Better Sunday than Monday, though.

  4. Surprising to me that they are practicing even tho they could meet fairly early in the tournament,I thought players didnt do that.

  5. When I used google translate which is of course not a good translater I could understand the part where he says that 2012 will probably be David's last year on in tennis. It's sad of course to hear that but if he doesn't get bad injuries any more I am sure we will see him in good form again. So many players with 29 playing their best tennis. Stepanek is even 32 now and Agassi was until 34 so succesful. But I think David is like Safin and won't stay so long.

    and thanks Krystle, I know RMC but when I want to install it the following message appears (see in this link)-->
    And second, when I want to open a keygen my virus program "antivir" shows it's a virus or trojan. I have tried this one

  6. Rafa even mentioned it on his official facebook page
    "This morning I've been training with David Nalbandian, first we played outdoor, then we had to go to the indoor court, hurricane Irene is getting close to NYC!!"