Friday, September 16, 2011

Davis Cup Semifinal Day 1 - Review

There are two versions of the tennis player David Nalbandian. One for the ATP events and the Slams and the other one we get to see in Davis Cup. And while other players may struggle with the pressure of playing for their team and country and not just for themselves (and even more so during away ties) the exact opposite applies for David. Give him a Davis Cup semifinal, an away tie, and David goes and plays his best match of the season. Securing the first point for Argentina with his 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Viktor Troicki.
Afterwards, Juan Martin Del Potro extended Argentina's lead to 2-0 by beating Janko Tipsarevic.

After going down a break early on in the first set, David levelled the score at 3-3. Having saved break points in the following game, David held serve brefore breaking Troicki again as the Serb served to stay in the set. The second set saw a series of easy holds from both, with David the more dominant player until a poor game at 4-4 cost him his serve and eventually the set. At the beginning of the third, Troicki returned the favour and dropped his serve before once again, David broke as Troicki was serving to stay in the set. The fourth set began exactly like the third, with David going up an immediate break. After getting the double break for a 5-1 lead, David served for the match and got broken before eventually closing out the match on the second attempt and this time to love.
(Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

That is, in radically short form, what happened during this match. But the real story of this match is a different one. And it's about David, playing a smart, solid and simply very good match. During his latest matches, and especially against Nadal at the US Open, there were some flashes of David, playing the tactical and effective tennis he's capable of. Only the he wasn't able to keep it up. With this match, he did. From the first set through to the fourth, David moved well and played well, and he also kept his focus, never losing track after getting broken (or when there were suddenly noises coming over the PA when he was break point down; he saved it). And it's been a while since David was able to play as aggressively, and consistently so, as he did today.

A word about the almost 14-minute service game that David played at 3-1 in the fourth set. As he mentions in the clip below, he did something to his neck during that game and it bothered him afterwards. Maybe it also affected him as he served for the match for the first time. As it was only after receiving a massage from one of the team's physios that he eventually served out the match to love.

So, after the first day, Argentina has a 2-0 lead. Time to have a look at the other semifinal, Spain vs France. In the course of the first two matches today, Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon managed to get a combined total of 10 games against Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer. There seems to be no way of stopping Spain on the way to the final. But can Argentina get there - we'll see.

Finally, here's the interview David gave to TyC Sports, directly after his victory.
(Edit: And here you can watch the video version of yesterday's audio interview for

He knew (around 30 minutes before the match as he said elsewhere) that he'd play Troicki instead of Djokovic. The second set was up and down, he had the chance to win it but couldn't take it. But all in all he thinks he played a great match and it was important to win the first point for Argentina. Hopefully they can build on that.
He knew that Viktor is a great server and there were games where they didn't get to play a lot of tennis. He had to stay patient and wait for the right moment and he thinks he did that well in this match and fortunately it all worked out.
Winning the first point is very important, now they can be more relaxed. He took the first step, now they have to go on, play and win points, hopefully they can go up 2-0, that would be great.
He did something to his neck, some bad movement (at 3-1 in the fourth set) and it bothered him after that but he pulled through and he's happy. He always has the support of his people from Unquillo and he thanks them for it, as well as all of Argentina.


  1. I love it when the tactically focused version of David shows up. :)

  2. I hope there is nothing serious with his neck

  3. a small quote from Eurosport:
    "Replacement Viktor Troicki was no match for the Argentine who played the kind of tennis that made him the world number three in 2006, blowing away his opponent 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-3. "

  4. i dont speak spanish but i liked how david reacted in the interview when asked about his neck ("no, no, bien...."). seems very determined ;)