Saturday, April 30, 2011

To play or not to play...


(Olé)

- That is the question. Whether it is nobler to suffer on the clay of Italy and France or take your chance on England's grass and, by playing, end this pause... To say it with a bit of (slightly altered) Shakespeare. And drama is definitely one of David's great talents on court.
Though these days, the drama takes place elsewhere.

In the course of the last four days, the news situation has gone from "David's comeback is scheduled for Rome" to "maybe Rome and if not, then Nice" and "if I can't play Rome or Nice then Roland Garros will be difficult" (see clip below) to "David will wait with his return until the tournament at the Queen's Club". As mentioned in the previous update, this piece of info was published last night on the Argentine site DiarioShow.com. I'll quote from the article:
Nalbandian first considered returning in Italy. But then he gave it some more thought and now he'll skip the entire clay season.
This change of plans has to do with his main objective, which is to be in top shape for the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against Kazakhstan (July 7-9), and which he doesn't want to have to worry about. Therefore, he'll gradually intensify his training until he feels he's back at 100%.
So far, this is still only on DiarioShow.com. And I can't tell you anything more definitive...

Update
According to Quique Cano, it hasn't been ruled out yet that David will play Rome and the decision will be made next Thursday.

But what's clear is that this sounds just like something David would come up with. And the truly unsettling part is the one about being in shape for the Davis Cup - because it sounds terribly familiar. Last year, David had to pull out of Madrid at the last moment and then skipped Roland Garros. But although he apparently prepared for Wimbledon, in the end he didn't play it
- because he wanted to be in shape for the Davis Cup...

Not too long ago, David said that his goal is to make it back inside the Top10. But that's of course not going to happen if he doesn't play on the Tour. And now would be the time to gain those points that he'll desperately need when August comes around, with its combined total of 770 ranking points for him to defend.
But when it comes down to it, David only has one goal and that's the Davis Cup. It has always been his dream to win it but now that he is in the "final stages" of his career (as he called it in a recent radio interview) it has become the focal point that absolutely everything revolves around. And perhaps, with this year's favourable draw he thinks it's the last big chance he'll get.

On a related and yet different note, here's the latest video interview with David (for ESPN):



A brief summary:
First of all, David explains that his adductor problems were a 'souvenir' from the last Davis Cup tie. But he's training now, it's going well but he'll still need a few more weeks. The plan is to come back as soon as possible [he said then]. Rome or Nice though if he's not able to return at either, playing Roland Garros will be very difficult. He'll have to see what he'll do in that moment.
About his old goals, winning a Slam and Davis Cup, he says it gets more difficult with each Slam you play, to recover between matches, and having had hip surgery doesn't help. There's a much better chance to win the Davis Cup with Argentina, and to give everything during one weekend instead of playing your best for two weeks at a Slam.
Their next opponent Kazakhstan is underrated because people don't know them. But they're young players, originally Russian, they're good and they deserve respect.
About Delpo, it's a good though not close relationship, each has his circle of friends. In any case, Delpo being on the team won't stop him from playing and also not the other way around [dispelling rumours to that extent]. As for Delpo's comeback, David says that he managed to get back to a high level a little faster than he expected. And that he has the potential to be at the top.
Looking back at the heyday of his generation of players, David gets a bit nostalgic and basically says that everything was better back then, back in the days when there were four Argentine players in the Top10. Back then, everything was great and people started to think that it would always be like this but it was a unique era for Argentina.
Finally, asked about the changing of the guard, David thinks that Djokovic and Murray are more of factor now than a couple of years ago and that Federer probably finds it a little difficult to be motivated. Meanwhile, young players like Raonic and Dolgopolov are making waves. On clay, however, David thinks that no one will be able to hurt Rafa. And it will be very difficult for Djokovic to become #1 because for that, he'll have to play great all year round and Rafa is way ahead in the rankings. And all matches are difficult today, especially if you play someone you don't know, who only knows you but you've never seen him before.

Bonus question from me: Against which player on the Kazakh team has David played before and where? Whether he remembers that match - who knows. But here's hoping that we will get to see him again on court before the next tie...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

David's Road leads to Rome - or maybe not?


(Getty Images)

Update II (30/04)
Maybe David's road won't lead to the European clay courts, after all. As DiarioShow.com reports, David's latest plan is to abandon the complete clay-court swing and to make his comeback on grass at the Queen's Club (June 6-12; apparently with a wildcard as he's not on the entry list). According to the article, the reason for this change of plans is that David wants to be in top form for the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against Kazakhstan (July 7-9).

So far, DiarioShow is the only site reporting this. I'll keep looking for further developments.


Update (28/04)
David is back in Buenos Aires and has been spotted at the Vilas Club, where he's doing full training, preparing his return.

Good news - it looks like we won't have to wait for much longer. According to Argentine news agency Telam, David will make his comeback on the ATP Tour at the Masters 1000 in Rome (pictured above). And that piece of info comes straight from David's spokesman Bernardo Ballero, who told Telam:
David is doing very well and his return is scheduled for the tournament in Rome, which will begin on May 8.
Adding that initially, a return at Madrid would've been possible but that the fever David had delayed his recovery. So while the Caja Mágica remains to be unchartered territory for David (and Madrid the only tournament he has won before - and yet never played; in its old and new form respectively), he'll be back in less than two weeks. At the Foro Italico in Rome.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Not really an Update

Update
It's been clear for a while but now it's also official - David is out of Madrid. (Source.)


First of all the weekly look at the rankings - David remains at #23 and still is the highest-ranked Argentine player although it's been over two months now since his last ATP match. His absence from the courts during this part of the season last year and the resulting lack of any points to defend make it possible.

But what about his current absence from the European clay courts - and when will it end? That is still the subject of much speculation. Since David's nebulous "around a month/a few more weeks" statements in the last clip there's been no further news, no info - nothing. (For a comprehensive overview of the news situation, I recommend taking a look at the schedule page on David's official site...) But whether this silence is a good or a bad omen - only time will tell.

So while there's nothing to be heard from David or his camp at the moment, some Argentine journalists maintain that David will make his comeback at Rome (May 9-15). Among them Enrique 'Quique' Cano, who yesterday tweeted "to those who keep asking me about Nalbandian's return" that he stands by what he already said last week, namely that David "won't play Madrid but will come back at Rome". - A glimmer of hope, maybe. Or simply a lack of more up-to-date news...
The waiting game continues.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

David: I need (at least) a few more Weeks



A new interview with David and again in form of a video. This time by MundoD, who caught up with David at a golf tournament he was visiting in Villa Allende (where he trains at the Inés Gorrochategui Tennis Academy, close to Unquillo).

In this clip, David first talks about the golf event and how happy he is to be able to attend it for the first time and how golf is a very nice sport. Then the reporter asks him how he's doing now - and that's where the interesting part starts. David says he's fine, he's training and it's going pretty well. Then he adds that he still can't train at 100% and that when he can train at 100% then he'll be able to come back.
But how long is that going to take? Well, he gives two answers to that question. First he says "a month, or thereabouts" (note: Roland Garros starts in about a month). Then he says that he "still needs a few more weeks" before he's going to "start travelling again". In other words - right now, David obviously doesn't really know when he'll come back. And nothing seems at least relatively certain, neither Rome, nor Nice...
After that, David talks about the Davis Cup, about how it's a "great objective" and that he'll try to be in the best possible shape for the next tie. And about Djokovic's "impressive season", Rafa always being Rafa and Federer struggling a bit with the change of generations, saying that these three and Murray are likely to remain at the very top.
But when will David join them again on the Tour? We'll have to wait and see...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Intensive Training


(Olé)

As German Martina reports for Olé, after losing what ended up being two weeks rather than just one due to illness and starting with some light practice last week, David is now doing "intensive training".
Back home after his stay in Buenos Aires, David began training intensively yesterday afternoon and he's now working in double shifts in order to make his comeback at... - well, there's still no news to be had about when and where David is planning to come back. The current news situation still is: Madrid - probably not, Rome - maybe, Nice - could be, in case Rome doesn't work out.

The one thing that is being confirmed now is the impression (from the latest photos and video) that David has dropped quite a bit of weight. David's spokesman Bernardo Ballero:
"He suffered a fever and was sick for more than ten days, with a constant temperature of 38.5°C that wouldn't go down. He was able to take up training again last week. So if you see him you'll be surprised because he has lost a lot of weight."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rankings Update

A new week and a new ranking, outside the Top 20 now but he hasn't lost that much ground - David has dropped only 4 places and is now ranked #23 (with 1425 points; -180 from Monte Carlo but +20 from Montpellier, now included among his countable events). The other good news in this context is that David won't have any further points to defend for the rest of the clay-court swing, as well as on grass. So his ranking is "safe" for now, regardless of when and where he returns in the weeks to come.

- But when that will be is still a mystery. His name still is on the entry list for Madrid. But I guess Rome or Nice are probably more realistic. Of course I'll keep looking and as soon as I have more definitive news for you, I'll replace the "?" in the sidebar with what's going to be David's next, as well as his comeback tournament.

In other news - after his trip to Buenos Aires it looks like David will continue his recovery back home. As he's apparently planning to attend a polo exhibition in the Cordoba province, this week (where his friend Adolfo Cambiaso will be playing; source). And hopefully, that big step ahead David said he's expecting will come this week.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

He'll be back... - but when?



Yesterday, the news came (in form of a tweet by Danny Miche) that David's comeback won't take place as initially planned, i.e. at the Masters in Madrid.
Today, there were two interviews with David, one on TV for Todas Noticias (see clip above) and one on the radio, for Argentine station ESPN 107.9FM. In the course of both interviews, David was asked about his comeback, about when and where it'll take place. And you'd think that everything would be much clearer now, with David answering that question himself.
But I'm afraid, nothing is clear.

In both interviews, David talked about how having been sick delayed his return to the practice court. But in both interviews he also didn't give an exact or just a planned date for his return. He didn't even rule out Madrid. Instead, he left it at saying that he wants to come back "at one of the tournaments before Roland Garros". But which tournament it's going to be - well, your guess is as good as mine.

Update (15/04)
As promised, here's more about what David said in those interviews. On the radio, he also talked a lot about the gala dinner of his foundation (Tamar's photos from it you'll find here.). But apart from that, both were relatively similar. - And not just because of the lack of a date for his return.

According to David, things have been going very well, his body recovered from the double surgery rather quickly. But then he was unfortunate enough to get sick and had to spend a week in bed. That cost him a week or or two, also because he had to recover from the virus and the fever it caused. Right now, he's feeling more or less okay but he expects that in a couple of days, he'll make a big step ahead and then he'll be able to start thinking about Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros. And as soon as he'll be able to fully train for 10-15 days in a row, he's going to make his comeback on the Tour.
Asked about Djokovic, David points out that his fantastic run began with winning the Davis Cup and that he has been playing with enormous confidence ever since. But he thinks the really difficult part for Djokovic will be to keep up that confidence and level, the way Federer did it for years. Nadal, David thinks, will be practically unbeatable on clay, as always. Whereas for Federer, it's getting increasingly difficult to win his matches, a sign for David that the changing of the guard (that he has talked about before) is affecting him more and more.
Asked about his relationship with Del Potro, David insists that it's "normal" and "good" and that they talked about what they needed to talk about. They're not close friends but then again you don't really get that on the Tour. And David hopes that they'll play for Argentina together.
The Davis Cup in general David calls "different", in terms of motivation, pressure and simply everything else. He also points out that the Davis Cup has played a decisive role in many players' careers and that it can make them take a turn for the better or the worse.

Finally, in the radio interview David also revealed that he's working on his biography, saying that "at some point, we're going to publish it."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Back on Court

As La Mañana de Córdoba reports, David is now back on the practice court. A month after undergoing double surgery at a clinic in Buenos Aires, David has returned to the Argentine capital to begin his on-court training at the Vilas Club. And also to attend the gala dinner of his foundation, which will take place tomorrow night at the Sheraton hotel.
David's return came a week later than initially planned (he just recovered from a bad flu) on the courts of the Vilas Club in Buenos Aires. He looked fit and ready as always to find his best level.
Some photos of David training you can view here.

Despite the delay, right now the plan still is for David to make his comeback at the Masters tournament in Madrid.

Update
- Or at least, that was the news until a few minutes ago.
Now I'm reading on Danny Miche's Twitter that David won't be playing Madrid.
There's no official confirmation yet, but we might have to wait for an additional week...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Davis Cup Intermezzo: Revised Schedule

Update II (11/04)
Time for the weekly look at the rankings - David remains at #19 but not for much longer. Next Monday, his 180 points from Monte Carlo last year will be gone and with them his place inside the Top20. For the time being.
Apart from that, there's nothing for me to report at the moment. There's only hoping that perhaps David has been able to begin with his on-court training today.
Speaking of which, David on court that is, here's a little reminder of what that looks like.
David playing a match...


(Michael Steele/AFP/Getty Images)




(infobae.com)

As the AAT (Asociación Argentina de Tenis) announced about an hour ago via their Twitter, the ITF has given them the green light for their plans to reschedule the Davis Cup quarterfinal against Kazakhstan.
The tie will now take place from July 7-9, i.e.Thursday to Saturday.
The ITF's decision means that the quarterfinal will be played at the Parque Roca in Buenos Aires (pictured above) and won't have to be relocated to a different city.
The rescheduling became necessary because of the local elections that will be held in Buenos Aires on July 10 (the law forbids sport events during elections).

Update
While according to his recovery schedule, David was supposed to be back on the training court by now, it now turns out that something got in the way - a viral infection.
Danny Miche reports:
Unfortunately, Nalbandian was down for 10 days with a virus that caused fever and general malaise, which delayed his return to training. While with the work he's doing at the gym together with his team (Galasso, Rodriguez) he's still "on time", the virus didn't allow him to play any tennis. The on-court training could begin next Monday and the plan still is to come back at Madrid, followed by Rome, Roland Garros, Queen's, Wimbledon and the Davis Cup.
Miche makes no mention of Nice here but David's name is on the entry list.
Anyway, let's hope that David is feeling better again now.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Q & A with David

No news from David and his recovery. And also no news from the ITF, so far.
Instead, I've found the following interview David gave Quenonino.com, an Uruguayan site. Though actually, it's more of a Q & A with brief questions and equally brief answers about David's career in general. From the very beginnings to the question for how much longer his career will continue.
Q: How did your love for tennis begin? When did you decide to play professionally?
David: I started playing tennis when I was still very young, imitating a little what my my older brothers did. By the time I was 12 years old, I was at the top of the Argentine rankings in my category.

Q: Who was your point of reference before you start playing?
David: I've always admired Boris Becker.

Q: Do you remember your debut at an ATP tournament?
David: I played my first match as a professional tennis player in 2000, against the former world number one Jim Courier. It was a narrow defeat. [Miami R1, Courier won 6-3, 3-6, 7-5]

Q: When your career was under construction, in 2007 [after a poor season until then], you beat Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. What was that experience like?
David: The second half of 2007 was a great moment in my career. Having defeated all three of them at the Masters in Madrid and having established myself was a unique experience.

Q: How does being inside the Top10 change you?
David: Becoming a Top10 [player] is an indication that you're doing things right. I tried to not let it change me in any way and I'm going to continue my efforts to try and always have the highest possible ranking.

Q: Which tournament did you enjoy winning the most? And why?
David: Shanghai Masters 2005 was a title that I enjoyed very much, where I won the final against Roger Federer. Also the Masters 1000 at Madrid and Paris that I won in 2007 are among the highlights of my career.

Q: Tell me about the worst moment and the best since you've started competing professionally.
David: Without a doubt, the Davis Cup final we lost against Spain in 2008 was a difficult moment, and the best have been many.

Q: What is the difference between competing at ATP events and in Davis Cup? What do you enjoy the most?
David: I enjoy Davis Cup the most because it allows me to represent my country, whereas on the Tour, everyone plays for their own honour. The Davis Cup is an exceptional competition and I hope that this year we can win it.

Q: You're the first Latin American player to have reached the semifinal at all of the four Grand Slams. What does that mean to you?
David: It's a great satisfaction. Apart from that a Grand Slam title remains to be one of my goals.

Q: What about the other Argentine players, like Schwank, Monaco or Del Potro?
David: I think Argentina has high-level players like them, with many qualities that enable them to continue climbing in the rankings. In fact, some have won some very important things like Juan Martin del Potro who was champion at the US Open.

Q: Have you seen Pablo Cuevas play?
David: Yes, many times. In fact, I've trained with him several times. I have a very good relationship with Pablo.

Q: What are the keys to being successful in a highly competitive sport like tennis?
David: I think that just like with most professions, the key lies in the effort and giving your best.

Q: How much time do you spend the Fundación David Nalbandian?
David: When I'm playing on the Tour it's more complicated but I always try to be informed of all the projects we are undertaking. On April 14 we'll have the gala dinner of the foundation to raise funds so that we can continue helping people in need.

Q: Do you think that the monopoly of Nadal and Federer is over and that the competition is more open now?
David: Nadal, Roger and Djokovic are in great form now and I think that apart from the temporary ups and downs, they will always fight in every tournament they play.

Q: If the injuries cease now, do you have an estimated date for retiring from tennis?
David: I haven't thought about my retirement. My idea is to play two more years.

Apart from that, there's another addition to David's busy schedule for the coming months (thanks, Istabraq) - though maybe not a completely surprising one.
David, "firmly regarded as a favourite of the event", has once more agreed to take part in The Boodles Challenge. The exhibition event at Stoke Park takes place the week before Wimbledon (July 14-18). And last year, there was even a stream for it...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Recovery Update with Dr. Ruiz-Cotorro

Update (04/04)
The 45 points from Miami last year are gone now but with 1585, David remains at #19 for another week. (The 180 points for Monte Carlo will come off in two weeks.)
Meanwhile, the AAT has officially asked for a rescheduling of the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie in July. The ITF's decision is expected for today or tomorrow.


By now David could already be back on the practice court - with a racquet this time, and hitting a few balls. At least, that was the plan, and that was what he was looking forward to, the last time we heard from him. And here's hoping that it's happening now. But whatever it is that David is doing these days, there are no news from him at the moment.
Instead, once again here's somebody else, talking about David (someone less controversial, this time) - Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, the personal doctor David shares with Rafa Nadal, and who is in permanent contact with David and his camp. So here's his assessment and description of David's holistic recovery process:
I think he's doing well, he's doing a lot of work and tackling many issues. The training, the physical foundation, resistance and preparation, the diet... He's really eager [to come back].
According to Ruiz-Cotorro, the surgery that David underwent was a double but still a "very simple" one and right now, it still looks like what initially seemed like a highly optimistic comeback date could very well become reality.
He's been doing a very good job with his rehabilitation, it's going really well. The next two weeks will determine when he's going to return. He's planning to do that either at Madrid or at Rome, depending on how things develop.
And then there's the Davis Cup. Ruiz-Cotorro's 'diagnosis' here is that David is "in love with playing Davis Cup" and that therefore he'll "do whatever it takes" to win it. But he also looks at it from a different perspective:
David has always exhausted himself, playing Davis Cup. If you're now working on a new start for him, he'll have to be fit enough physically to win it.
His take on the frequent injury problems David has had ever since hip surgery:
When a person ends up not getting into an adequate rhythm because injuries are undermining that, then in the end it gets difficult finding that rhythm because you play well when you play matches. You can't measure how long the matches are going to take. I watched him in the match he played in Australia [against Hewitt] and any human being would've finished that match totally worn out. When David takes to the court, he gives everything.
(Source.)

Finally, and in light of recent events:

On Thursday, for the first time in the almost three years that VD now exists, I saw the need to close the comments for a post.

I've always wanted the comments to be a place where VD readers can talk about David. And also about other things or players, if they want to.
There's just one, fundamental rule. On my blog, I want everyone to be treated with minimum of respect. Be it poster or player. That includes Delpo. Just like it includes David's opponents or posters you might disagree with.
I would like to keep the comments open to everyone, the way it is now. For that to work, I call on everyone who leaves comments here - let's keep VD a friendly place. Thank you.