Monday, August 8, 2011

On the Road to... Nowhere?


(EFE)

Update (09/08)
Here's the only quote from David about the match that I've been able to find.
I'm not satisfied with my level of play, I'm lacking match practice but with [playing] more matches, it's going to get better. I'm still far from being able to play the way that I want to.
But I don't have any injuries or pains and that's positive. (Source.)

It was clear that this first round against Stanislas Wawrinka at the Montréal Masters was going to be a tough match for David. And yet it was supposed to be his chance to turn the tide, after his star-crossed stint at Washington. But in the end, the match only confirmed the impressions from last week and in more than one way. After a gruesome first set in the course of which (just like in the Blake match) he didn't win a single game after 1-1, David went a down a double break again in the second before playing at least a little better (also helped by Wawrinka's level dropping a little) to get back one of the breaks - but not both. In the end, Wawrinka won 6-1, 6-4.
By the sheer numbers, it's not even the worst defeat that David has ever suffered against Wawrinka. At Barcelona, back in 2008, he only managed to win four games. But although David has lost to Wawrinka before, and badly at that, this defeat is a special one. And not only because of those 170 ranking points David has lost along with the match and because of which come next Monday, he'll be ranked too low to gain direct entry into Masters events (though this doesn't affect Cincy).

Despite the way David managed to raise his level towards the end of the second set, there were some major problems rather too visible in this match.
First of all, the serve. It's not just that once again David made far too few first serves (43% for the match). But also that whenever he found himself in a difficult situation, playing the important points that eventually decide the match, he almost always had to rely on his second serve and on the back of his second serve he didn't win enough points. However, David having problems with his serve is nothing new. And in the past, he has often enough pulled off wins despite posting atrocious numbers on serve.
But the second problem is of a much more basic and therefore devastating nature, in terms of its effects on David's game. The short and simple version: David was too slow today. Constantly a step (or more than one) late in getting to the ball and therefore not having enough time to set up his shots. Which accounted for a lot of David's many unforced errors today.
But even if he did get to the ball in time and didn't find himself under immediate pressure, David hardly ever managed to really hit through the court. With his groundstrokes often lacking pace and depth, as well as precision. (Highlights from the match you can watch here.)

Since hip surgery, David has often enough shown his ability to come back after injuries, after pauses, some of which lasted months. Still, he managed to return as if nothing had happened, as if he'd never been away. This time, the pause only lasted five weeks (and it saw him miss out on playing Davis Cup but no ATP events). And yet, watching David play today you could've thought that it was his first match in many months.
Of course there will be those who'll say that David was lazy and didn't prepare enough for these events. But the pattern that could be observed in both of his last two matches (a horrible first set followed by a better second one) seems to disprove the claim that this is merely a fitness issue.
The development that I see is that his movement has been gradually getting worse ever since his double surgery in March. The very surgery that was not only supposed put an end to further muscular injuries but also to remove previous limitations to his movement. In other words, I think that there's still something wrong with his locomotory system.

As long as David was able to always come back without difficulties after his many injuries he must've known why he was putting up with all of it, with the injuries, with being sidelined and then preparing another return. Because he could still play good and even great matches, he could still beat some high-ranked players. But in case his body no longer allows him to do that... I've said it before, I don't think that David will hang around on the Tour just for fun. Or to play qualies.

Next up for David is now Cincy, traditionally the worst of all Masters events for him. And then the US Open, where it's clear now that David won't get to enjoy the protection of being seeded. - Not exactly the easiest tournaments to try and stop this downward spiral.
And then there's also David's big goal, the Davis Cup. And the semifinal tie against Serbia, directly after the US Open. In his current form he wouldn't be able to be of much help for his team. Whether there's any chance for him to change that - Cincy and the US Open will have to tell.

45 comments:

  1. On grass I didn't see him having problems with his movements, why did it happen now?!

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  2. You thought he moved well on grass? I didn't. Except for parts of the Federer match. He really gave all that he could (and more) in that one.

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  3. And then he was injured again.

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  4. You hit the nail on the head, Julia. David did serve poorly, but he's often done that and won. Still it's a bit unusual to see a player of his caliber hit so many first serves into the middle of the net. Very ugly. The most glaring thing, though, was his lack of movement. He just couldn't get to balls or got there too late to make good contact. I don't think he's out of shape. As a matter of fact he looks thinner than ever. I think the effort and desire is there. But he's slow. Something is wrong. First Blake, and now Wawrinka. He's got to right the ship, and soon.

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  5. David looked like a senior yesterday.

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  6. I wish I was able to watch all these matches with him. Tennis channel is the only thing that broadcasts the minor stuff for me, and things like this they skip until about the round of 16, so I don't get to see super early matches like these.

    Just don't give up on us, Nalby; your loyal fans are always rooting for you!

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  7. Anderson took out Murray,things would have really opened up for David.

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  8. i agree with Adrian, he couldve made a SF if he had beaten wawrinka, thats a real shame

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  9. You're not being serious, right?

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  10. And Rafdog, for watching David play I'd recommend watching streams.

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  11. Even if David would beat Wawrinka he would lose his next match against all the rest. Wawrinka was himself playing poor but it was enough.

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  12. David only mentioned about his form but nobody spoke about his poor movement

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  13. I think Noubar was thinking a SF would have been possible if David was playing just his usual level of tennis,maybe not like last years US hard court swing but like the Auckland run or something.

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  14. Well, he wasn't even close to beating Wawrinka...
    Anyway, right now, David is still in Montréal and he trained with Pico today (who also lost in in the first round).

    And according to Danny Miche, that exho match in December was initially planned to be between Rafa and Delpo. But apparently, Rafa didn't want to play against Delpo, so instead it's going to be Rafa vs David.

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  15. Ya like Adrian said, I meant "on paper" would have been a not-so-tough pass through the SF, but surely wouldnt get there with this form.
    @Julia, interesting to know the exho was to be delpo vs Nadal, but not surprising at all Rafa wanting to play David, i can hardly think of 2 players who have such a friendly relationship apart from a rivalry between them.

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  16. I don't really think they're that close, to be honest. And that Rafa is better friends with Pico, for example. But a Rafa vs Pico match wouldn't draw the same kind of crowd as Rafa vs David. And that exho is about making money, after all.

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  17. Well, if it's any consolation, Murray lost more convincingly than David did. I didn't see the match, but it's been reported that Murray was "half a step slow" and his performance was lackluster and dispirited. David at least played even with Wawrinka toward the end. And he didn't throw in the towel. Murray apparently did. Personally I think David may have lost a little too much weight. He doesn't seem to have his usual strength. But the weight loss certainly shouldn't have made him slow. I don't know what to make of it.

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  18. I saw part of the Murray match. And yeah, he was horrible, played passively, got down on himself etc. But in his case the problem seemed to lie 'between the ears'. I mean, he didn't seem physically unable to play better than he did.
    David on the other hand... I don't know if maybe he has lost his strength along with the weight. We'll have to see what his next match will look like. And whether he'll move better then.

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  19. At the same time, even if he says he's fine, fit, there's no pain - doesn't have to mean it's true.

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  20. Yeah, you never know with David's pronouncements.

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  21. Something I've definitely learned in my years of blogging about him...

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  22. I know that this isnt really a popular thing to say here but I really dont feel that this last loss was just that David cant play top tennis anymore,or that his time has passed but rather that he just probably imo didnt work and train that hard after this setback after Wimbledon then after previous injuries and that the rust is just there.I mean we wont know until 4 or 5 tournaments have passed but I think its that...I presume that the Cinci draw is one Friday,any news on that?

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  23. I'm just afraid of where all of this, if it goes on, may lead...
    But of course, everybody has their opinion. I guess I'm one for stating mine very directly (German, can't help it) but that doesn't mean I expect everybody to think or post the same. :)

    And yep, the draw will be on Friday, at 5.30pm.

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  24. My second main man Dodig took out Nadal,that bottom half is just so open right now,maybe Wawrinka can make it to the final.

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  25. And Cilic, who's among the players I like, beat Delpo in straights. It's not looking too good for Argentina at the moment. Anyway, I like the upsets at Montréal. Wouldn't mind if they continue.

    And here's David on the practice court with Pico yesterday (not playing, just taking his shirt off).

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  26. Pico 10, David 0 in the shirtless category. Still has work to do....

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  27. Very hard for anyone to compete with Pico in that area. ;)

    None of David's DC teammates is having a good week either. While not only Nole, but Troicki and Tipsarevic go marching happily on...

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  28. Oh, now I read your last comment properly, Julia - I see mine was a bit repetitive.

    I think I got distracted by just looking at the link. ;-)

    Anyway, it's something that's been at the back of my mind for a few days. But Delpo losing earlier than expected (again) is whatever the opposite of "the icing on the cake" is for Argentina.

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  29. Istabraq,

    I think that a good number of players can give Pico a good run; David is not one of them-not even close. Love his heart, but he's got a whole lot of work to do...a whoooooooooole lot!!!

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  30. While he won't ever be able to compete with Pico in that department, he's looking fitter now than he has in a long time. And if fitness was the issue then you'd expect his level to drop as the match goes on. But that's not the case.

    Istabraq, yeah, David, Pico, Chela out in R1, Delpo out in R2, Schwank out with wrist problems... No wonder there's a lot of talk (and growing panic) about the prospects for Belgrade.

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  31. Still needs to work on it. Call me shallow, but if you are going to go around shirtless, you'd better have a bangin' bod to justify it. No halfway. For someone who has been called "fat", why give 'em an excuse to keep that meme and theme going? Give 'em something else to look at/talk about. Tighten it up is what I'm trying to say.

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  32. By his standards he's about as lean and trim now as it gets. Something that's been noted all across other sites, blogs etc. I mean, I can't recall having ever seen David getting called a "lean mean machine" before, like happened this week.
    He'll never look like Pico. And for my part, I wouldn't mind if he was several kilos overweight but playing well.

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  33. Those folks are reaching, aren't they?

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  34. No, they're not. By his standards he is, right now. Though basically just lean and not so much mean or machine.

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  35. He must have very high standards. JMHO, by the way. And yes, I am shallow.

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  36. sorry, should have said "he must NOT have high standards."

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  37. Maybe having a bangin' bod is not everybody's goal...
    And he has other, much more important things to think about now.

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  38. I'm not saying that having a bangin' bod should be the objective; I'm just saying that if you don't have it, don't show it.

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  39. To which I'd simply say - if you don't like the view, don't look. ;)

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  40. For the record, David has once more kept a complete silence this week. So there's nothing new to report, no interviews etc.

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  41. Here's another clip of David on the practice court but in this one, he is training.

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  42. Tomorrow I will be headed for Cincy where hopefully I can finally see David in real life....I'll try to keep everyone posted on his progress at the event should there not be any live streams available during the opening rounds of play. Vamos!!!

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  43. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMb91SgALRU A new video I think.,looks like hes still in Montreal.

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  44. The clip is new but maybe it was filmed at an earlier session. Anyway - thanks for the link. :)

    And thanks, John Hardesky for your offer. I hope you'll get to see him live and that you'll be able to tell us about your impressions. I guess I'm not the only one who'd like to hear about them, even if there is a stream for David's match. :)

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  45. John H, I'm so glad to hear you are (hopefully) going to get to see David live.

    I was very happy when I finally got to see David this summer, along with joyce63. We also got to see him win - in my case, several times. So we VamosDaviders being there brings him luck. ;)

    Looking forward to hearing all about it.

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