Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The (not so) Quiet before the Storm

Today was the last "normal" day of training at La Cartuja. And David, taped again, spent it not on the main court (where tarps were installed today against the sunlight from the sides) but on the small training court. During the first session he trained with Juan Monaco, as can be seen in the clip above, which contains footage of Del Potro, Monaco, David and also Nadal. Later, in the afternoon, it was time for another round of doubles practice together with Eduardo Schwank, who told the press today that playing together, he and David have "muy buen feeling" (his exact words). It may still not be official but it's very obvious - Juan Monaco will face Rafael Nadal on Friday, David and Eduardo Schwank will play the doubles against Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco on Saturday. That's what basically everybody expects to be confirmed at the draw ceremony, which will take place tomorrow at noon, local time at the glorious Teatro Lope de Vega.

While David had a busy day, practicing it was also a very busy day for the media. With Spanish sports newspaper Marca causing a media commotion with an article about the allegedly still very tense relationship between the "irreconcilable enemies" David and Delpo ("they don't talk to each other"). Meanwhile the Argentine press took a look back at David's long and illustrious Davis Cup career. And David's self-confessed obsession even made it into the New York Times today, in form of this article.

Speaking of which, the media that is, here's the latest interview with David, this time by Sebastian Torok for La Nacion.
Q: You've been troubled a bit by the characteristics of the court during these days of training, and you've been cursing about the light and shadow and court. Are those things bad for Argentina?

David: No, no. But the clay that's being used for this court is fine, very similar to the one at the tournament in Barcelona. It's a little slippery. The court is fast but there's not much pressure on the balls and that makes them a little slow. And the effect is a bit weird because they don't bounce very high. Apart from that there's still a lot of light and shadows, it's difficult to see the ball well and the seats reflect the sun. It's very difficult. Shortly after three in the afternoon there's sunlight as well, and it's during those hours that the matches will take place. It doesn't just happen in the mornings.

Q: You say that Spain is the favourite. But what is their weakness?

David: I think that the doubles is the weakest rubber, the one to win. Compared, obviously, to the quality of Rafa and Ferrer. It's obvious that the doubles team with Verdasco and Feliciano [Lopez] would make for an extremely strong part of every other team, it would be fundamental. But winning [the doubles] would mean winning one point, you would still need two more. And at Mar del Plata we lost to the same doubles. But still, the matches have to played.

Q: In previous years you played on all three days at some of the ties. Based on what could be seen in practive and taking into account the injuries that you've had, are you focusing on playing your first match in the doubles rubber, together with Schwank?

David: I don't know. Edu and I have been training together, trying to get in our best shape. It's true that against either of the Spanish singles players the matches won't be short ones and it would be extremely exhausting to play on Friday and Saturday. And we also know that the doubles is a very important rubber in this tie and that we have to try and win it.

Q: Playing [the doubles] together with Del Potro, is that feasible?

David: That's for the captain to decide, you'll have to ask him. I still haven't practiced with Juan Martin. But the tie will be tough and we have to be ready for anything.

Q: Nadal has had some poor results on the Tour but these days he has been seen hitting the ball with a lot of intensity, even with anger. Is the wounded animal [figuratively speaking] still the most dangerous?

David: He's always Rafa. He got here without having played much and with little confidence after the London Masters [World Tour Final]. But on clay we know what he's like, the potential that he has. He'll finetune his game in time and he always gives the maximum. He'll play better than he did at the Masters, I don't have any doubts about that. He's going to be very hard to beat.

Q: Recalling the finals of 2006 and 2008, how do you think you are today?

David: I'm getting older, that's the only difference (laughs). I have more experience. Here in Sevilla it's tougher than the final against Russia and the one at Mar del Plata. But we have a good team, we have to be ready to suffer, to fight and to run down each and every ball. Spain is the favourite, the statistics show it, the ranking, the surface, everything. We have to stay calm. We want to pull off the surprise.

Q: The injuries happen more frequently and you'll turn 30 soon. Do you feel that this will be your last chance to win the Davis Cup?

David: No, I don't see it that was because the draw for next year is good. Except for the first round, playing against Germany and as the away team, we'll be able to face the top nations at home and we have a good chance of going deep. But before that comes this final. And I'm concentrating on here and now because what's ahead for me is the dream of my life. I'm happy, I don't think about being the hero or any other thing or nonsense. We are all excited, in top shape, we've been preparing for days now. It's all about winning those three points, no matter what it takes. It's difficult but in the semifinal against Serbia people had already written us off as well. So what? Who says so?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Press Conference Day at La Cartuja

(Miguel Angel Morenatti/AP Photo)
Today, between training sessions, it was time for the traditional Tuesday round of press conferences. And while the Spanish team arrived with its captain Albert Costa and four players (those four that everyone was expecting), on the Argentine side captain Tito Vázquez was accompanied by five players. Though one of them didn't get a single question during the official part of the press conference - Juan Ignacio Chela.
The Spanish team was up first, with Costa saying that he has made his decision about Spain's line-up for the final and that there "won't be many changes, regardless of what the Argentines are going to do" (source). Or rather, there probably won't be any changes at all, with Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer playing the singles and Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco for the doubles. The main centre of attention, however, was of course Rafael Nadal, who stated that "the objective is to win" and that "the pressure will be the same for Spain and Argentina".
A perception that David disagreed with, when he was asked about it later, during the Argentine team's press conference: "They're the favourites, more so than we are, and it's their responsibility to win" (source). Apart from that, everyone (on both teams) agreed that each of the matches will be very difficult and very tough and that it's important to be prepared and in the best possible shape for the final. Tito Vázquez refused to answer any questions about the exact line-up of his team, while David and the other players left it at statements like "the captain will decide" and "if I get to play I'm going to give my best". And eventually, after the press conference was basically already over, Chela did get to answer at least one question, thanks to a Spanish journalist. Still, the general opinion at this stage (backed by the practice sessions) is that Eduardo Schwank will replace Chela on the team - and that David will play the doubles together with him.

(Cristina Quicler/AFP)
As for today's training, David took part in both sessions again (while this time, it was Juan Monaco, who was allowed to skip the first one). After hitting and then also playing points with Juan Ignacio Chela, the second session of the day saw David practicing doubles with Eduardo Schwank again, something like a daily ritual at La Cartuja by now.
Something else that hasn't changed since the Argentine team first started practicing at the stadium is the problems with the light. Although David, the other players and Tito Vázquez have complained about visibility problems on court (during the afternoon), nothing has been done about it so far. Much to David's chagrin, who reportedly erupted in a resounding "What a shit court!" during today's doubles practice (source).
Not surprisingly perhaps, this little episode is not to be found in the AAT's clip of David and Schwank, practicing with Del Potro and Monaco, which you'll find below. But what can be seen in this clip is that David had his left leg taped below the knee. I've haven't been able to find out more, so for the moment, I'll hope it's just a precaution. (More photos on the Photo Page.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lights and Shadows and a New Interview

(filmed yesterday)

After David skipped (and was allowed to skip) the first training session today, during the second one he practiced doubles with Eduardo Schwank yet again, practically confirming the speculations about him, not playing against Rafael Nadal on Friday but contesting the doubles alongside Eduardo Schwank instead (clips of the two, training together here and here; photos from today now on the Photo Page).

The good news of the day: After the first session of the day Juan Martin Del Potro told the press that his knee isn't really troubling him after all and that he's looking forward to playing the final (source).
The not so good news of the day: Both Delpo and and David have expressed their discontent with the speed of the surface at La Cartuja. While Delpo called it a little too slow for his taste, the expression that David chose to describe it was deemed unprintable by the press...
All about the team press conferences tomorrow.

The training sessions at La Cartuja stadium continued yesterday, with David mostly practicing with Juan Monaco, as can be seen in the brief clip above. But while all journalists present in Sevilla agree that David is showing himself to be in good form (also physically), there are some concerns regarding Juan Martin Del Potro. During an evening doubles practice (David and Schwank against Del Potro and Chela) called by Tito Vázquez on Saturday, Delpo got stuck in the clay and twisted his right knee. Since then, he has been training with a knee bandage and although he was able to do full training yesterday it's not quite clear whether this is just a precaution.

(Marcelo Carroll/Clarin)
Apart from that, the Argentine team has encountered some problems with the conditions at La Cartuja. Or more specifically, the light on the main court. Parts of the roof that has been erected over the court are transparent, letting in natural light. But as the weather has been clear and sunny at Sevilla these last couple of days, the sunlight falling in through those transparent areas has affected the visibility on court, as can be seen in this photo. A problem that occurs only in the afternoon - and it'll be in the afternoon that the matches of the final will be played. At the same time, the artificial lighting that has also been installed doesn't work properly, with several panels not functioning (source). Hopefully, the Spanish hosts will use the remaining days until the final to resolve these issues.

With both teams now present in full force (David Ferrer arrived from London yesterday), the training sessions continue today, with an update to follow in the evening (photos from yesterday on the Photo Page). Tomorrow, it'll then be time for the traditional round of team press conferences. Ahead of those, here's an interview that David gave to Marcelo Maller for Clarin:
Q: A genie comes to you and says, "Argentina will win the Davis Cup but you have to sign this contract which says that you're going to retire after playing in Sevilla". Would you do it?

David: Nooo! I would say that I'd love to win the Davis Cup against Spain in Sevilla but that I also want to keep playing tennis for all of next year.

Q: What mistakes from the final 2008 should you not commit now, on and off the court?

David: I think that the circumstances are totally different. Now I am very much focused on this final, trying to be in my best shape for it, physically as well as in terms of my tennis.

Q: With this final, are you the good guy or the bad guy?

David: I think I'm part of the team, nothing more than just that.

Q: You've said more than once that you'd like to play three rubbers but that this final has to be played smartly. Does being smart mean that you won't play on the first day and that if not that you're going to play the doubles?

David: I love playing Davis Cup, representing my country but the decisions about who plays each rubber are made by the captain.

Q: Do you see yourself winning the last point and celebrating the title or would that be a miracle?

David: I hope that we win the final, who will play the last rubber will play the last rubber, and that I can win for the team those points that I get to play. To win the tie you need three points and Argentina has a good team to achieve that.

Q: Nadal has never lost, playing at home on clay in the Davis Cup. Can you or Del Potro beat him? And will the crowd have an influence on the tie?

David: I think beating Rafa on clay is very difficult. He's the best player on this surface in history. Still, I think that the matches have to be played... The location is always important and plays a decisive role. The Spanish fans will be in the majority at the stadium and they're going to make you feel it.

Q: Will it be decisive, as Tito said, for the score to be 1-1 after Friday? Are Ferrer's two singles matches going to make the difference? Because he's the one to beat.

David: I think that Spain has a very solid team, especially with its two singles players. It's very difficult to beat Rafa and Ferrer on this surface, they are both great clay specialists.

Q: About which specific topics do you talk to Del Potro when you talk to him?

David: With Juan Martin, we basically talk about tennis in general.

Q: Did you get to Sevilla knowing that there's less pressure for Argentina because you're not the favourites to win? In your head, are you going over the draw for 2012, with the home ties it'll mean in Buenos Aires?

David: The only thing that's in my head is the final in Sevilla against Spain. It's the third final of my career and I'd love to win it for once, for Argentina.

Q: When you lay your head down on your pillow at night, do you pray that you a) don't get injured, b) play your best tennis or c) win the Davis Cup and if so that you get to be the hero?

David: In that order. I always think about those three things, except being the hero.

Q: If you win you'll enter the national sports Olymp. If you lose, what do you think people will think of the team and you, especially?

David: Winning the Davis Cup for the first time would be spectacular for all Argentineans. If we don't win I suppose people would understand that we left everything out there on the court, trying to win each of the rubbers. As for myself, I think people know that the Davis Cup is kind of an obsession that I have and that if I can't win it this time I'm going to try again in 2012.
(Marcelo Carroll/Clarin)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Training at La Cartuja

After David and the rest of the Argentine team arrived in Sevilla yesterday evening, today the first training sessions of both the Argentine and the Spanish team took place at La Cartuja stadium.
In the case of Argentina, this meant an hour and a half of hitting practice, with David, Juan Martin del Potro and Juan Monaco taking turns on the centre court (further clips here and here), while Juan Ignacio Chela, Eduardo Schwank and hitting partner Facundo Bagnis practiced on the training court that has also been installed at the stadium.

Meanwhile, on the Spanish side Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco practiced doubles against Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, the hitting partner that the Spanish team has brought to Sevilla. And while after his semifinal defeat at the World Tour Final today, David Ferrer will now join the team as soon as possible, Rafael Nadal has already arrived in Sevilla. Spain's #1 also trained at La Cartuja today, though he still had time for a little chat with David and Juan Monaco, as can be seen in this clip.
Edit: Lots of photos from today now on the Photo Page.

(Aníbal Greco/La Nacion)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On the Way to Spain

(Video by Tamar, filmed on Wednesday)

Yesterday was the last full day of practice for the Argentine team at the Tenis Club Argentino in Buenos Aires. David spent most of it, training with Juan Monaco (another clip here), while Tito Vázquez and Juan Martin Del Potro also talked to the press. With the former refusing, despite the attempts by the media, to disclose his strategy for Sevilla and the latter confirming that right now, he is focusing on his first match against David Ferrer and that whatever will happen after that will be up to the captain to decide. In short, that Del Potro will play two singles rubbers is the only thing that's clear at this point.

Today, the team will get together for a last, very light training session in the morning. After that, David and the others will be free to spend the rest of the day as they like before in the evening, the team will leave for Spain, where they will arrive on Friday. On Saturday, training is scheduled to continue on site, at La Cartuja stadium.

As promised, I've translated David's video interview for the Spanish edition of the Davis Cup website (from which this little screencap here has been taken). In it, a rather relaxed David talks about the upcoming final but also about the Davis Cup in general, past experiences and future chances (and yes, he used the plural) of winning it. A good interview and one that I can only recommend.
The post with the clip and my translation you'll find here.

Apart from that, if you want to listen to David in English, there's a brief new audio interview with him that can be found on the Davis Cup site, here.

And here's a look at La Cartuja stadium, with the roof, stands and court now in place:

Edit: And a first picture of the now almost finished court, as tweeted by Spain's captain Albert Costa:

(Gustavo Garello/Clarin)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Official Player Lists & A Demonstration of Unity

With the Davis Cup final now merely 10 days away, today both team captains had to officially submit their player lists to the ITF. And both Tito Vázquez and Albert Costa went for a "4 (+1)" strategy of putting four names on the list but going to Sevilla with five players. So the official lists of players look like this:

David Nalbandian, Juan Martin Del Potro, Juan Monaco, Juan Ignacio Chela

Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Fernando Verdasco

But Eduardo Schwank and Marcel Granollers will travel to Sevilla as well - "just in case". And changes to the line-up are possible until shortly before the draw ceremony.
Apart from that, today members of the press were allowed to be present during the Argentine team's first training session of the day. And what they got to see was a lot of David and Delpo:


Warming up together, hitting together, playing a practice set and then afterwards spending fifteen minutes, sitting and talking together (source). A demonstration of unity. Afterwards, David trained with Eduardo Schwank and their second doubles practice in as many days (later, in the afternoon) has renewed the speculations about David, playing the doubles and a possible fifth rubber, instead of facing Nadal on the first day. Asked about the current state of his preparations, David said, "each day I feel better and adapt better to playing on clay" (source).
In the afternoon, the team was joined by Juan Ignacio Chela, who arrived today from having played an exhibition match against Fernando Gonzalez in Santa Fé (which he won 6-4, 6-3).
- Speaking of which, the official presentation of this year's Copa Almirante Brown also took place today, a relatively small exhibition that David already played last year. This time (December 8/9), it'll be David, Juan Monaco, Juan Ignacio Chela and Nicolas Massu at the tennis club St. Albano.

P.S. There's a nice video interview with David (in Spanish) that was done for the Davis Cup website. I'll translate/summarise it as soon as I can find the time.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Argentina's "Fabulous Five" - Vázquez Nominates Team

UpdateII (22/11)
At a press conference in Barcelona, Spain's captain Albert Costa has just confirmed his team nominations for the Davis Cup final. As previously announced, and just like Argentina's captain Tito Vázquez, Costa has nominated five players. Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco will be joined by Marcel Granollers, who will be there "just in case" (source).

Update (21/11)
David arrived in Buenos Aires today for the first training session of the Argentine team. Here are the first two photos, courtesy of the AAT. More tomorrow when the press will be present.


It's official - David Nalbandian, Juan Martin Del Potro, Juan Monaco, Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank have all been nominated by team captain Tito Vázquez for the upcoming Davis Cup final against Spain. During a brief press conference in Buenos Aires today, Vázquez confirmed that he'll be taking five players to Sevilla, adding that the final decision about who is going to play which match won't be made until the very last minute. But also that certain things have changed on the Argentine team - and for the better:
"A final is something very special. We're going to take five players [to Sevilla]. They all deserve to be there and we think that it's the best thing to do. We're going to define the team [as in - who is actually going to play] one hour before the draw ceremony.
We've all grown, we've talked about our differences and we've dropped the masks. I'm happy about that." (Source.)
Apart from that, vice captain Caio Rivera said that David has been "training very well" and that he has "ended up having some pain in his left hand" but it's "nothing serious" (source). Hopefully.

As mentioned before, the team training sessions will begin on Monday at the Tenis Club Argentino in Buenos Aires. The morning session on Tuesday will be open to the press, so there will be news then, and probably also photos and videos.
On Thursday evening (24/11), the team will then be on its way to Spain, where after one day of rest, the training will continue on Saturday. In order for the team to have a left-handed hitting partner at those practices, junior player Facundo Bagnis will accompany the team to Sevilla.

Finally, according to Danny Miche, the final will be the last tie for Tito Vázquez as Argentina's Davis Cup captain, regardless of the outcome. His successor will apparently be someone who has had his eye on that job for a while now - David's former coach Martin Jaite.

Meanwhile at La Cartuja stadium...

(Europa Press)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Another Press Conference with David


Before on Monday the Argentine team takes up training together at the Tenis Club Argentino in Buenos Aires and then travels to Spain at the end of next week, David's plan was to spend this week back home in Unquillo, training in peace and quiet, far away from the bustle of Buenos Aires. But if his plan also was to escape the attention of the Argentine media then it didn't work out so very well...
Therefore, David held another press conference yesterday, at the Inés Gorrochategui Academy in Villa Allende, his training grounds whenever he's at home. Answering more questions about the upcoming Davis Cup final and also about his current state of mind.
I'll be ready, I feel good. It's going to be a battle. But the pressure doesn't trouble me at all, on the contrary. I like it and it motivates me.
I don't feel any anxiety. Maybe I will when we'll get to be more in the Davis Cup atmosphere. Right now, I get to 'live' a little but the reality will be next week when we'll train together and get ready for Sevilla.
We are doing very well and in the coming days we're going to be getting better because we will have more time to train on clay. The difficult part is adapting and changing the surface. We have to think about ourselves. They are the favourites and sometimes even doing things right may not be enough. But you have to give everything.
Still, how well David is able to play on clay these days remains to be mystery - even to himself.
It's difficult to know my level because I haven't played on clay in seven or eight months and that is a big factor. Fortunately, we have time to train and adapt to clay. I will try to get there in the best possible shape.
At the same time, he's of course well aware of Spain's strengths, though he believes in Argentina's chances.
Spain is a tough opponent wherever you play. If you analyse it, the weakest point is the doubles and that's still tough. Between Rafa and Ferrer on clay, I don't know if there's much of a difference, it's not much. Those are two very even singles players, very strong and very competitive on any surface. And even more so on clay. But we have a good team and can look ahead at what's going to be a close tie where we will have our chances.
In a recent interview, Rafael Nadal said that Spain won't repeat the mistakes Argentina made in 2008 and that the most important thing is to be united as a team...
I don't know what Rafa meant by that. Those are opinions. Maybe they're at a different point as a team now than in 2008. I don't know, you always have to try and do things the best way you can and be in the best shape for playing every match, regardless of the opponent. We have to focus on us, playing well.
There'll be more about what Nadal meant by that as part of VD's Davis Cup Flashback series (and also more about David's first final, in Moscow 2006).

Here's a clip about David's press conference:

Asked to compare the upcoming final with the ones he played in the past, he says it's going to be completely different for a variety of factors, also compared to Mar del Plata 2008, because they'll be the away team, it's going to be a different surface and Rafa Nadal is going to be there. He thinks it's going to be more difficult than it was at Mar del Plata but they have to prepare and be ready to fight.
Apart from that, he has recovered well from his tear, he's doing normal training now and it's still two weeks until the final. Next week they will all train together, he feels good and he's looking forward to the final.
He'll get to Sevilla in good shape and well rested but without rhythm or match practice, having not been able to play of late but you never know whether that's an advantage or a disadvantage.
(The rest of his replies has already been mentioned/translated above; some more photos from the press conference you'll find on the Photo Page.)

Finally, one last question:
Q: Can you win it this time?
David: I hope so.
(Sources: MundoD & Día a Día)

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Brief Update

(photo by Tamar)

Update (15/11)
On Friday, Argentina's captain Tito Vázquez will officially confirm his team nominations for Sevilla at a press conference in Buenos Aires (source). As mentioned before, Vázquez has already revealed that he's going to nominate everyone who has played for Argentina this season, i.e. David, Juan Martin Del Potro, Juan Monaco, Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank.

First of all, Tamar from VD's partner site David Nalbandian Es Un Ídolo Total was at David's press conference and took a variety of photos she has uploaded by now. Her gallery with those photos you can have a look at here.

Then, as it's Monday - a look at the rankings. This week, David's points from the Paris Masters last year are gone but he still has 760 ranking points and loses only two positions, now finding himself at #64. Apparently, it's now possible for him to count in another 250 event (with Stockholm and Buenos Aires now both appearing on his list of countable events), probably because he missed Paris due to injury.

This week, David will be back home in Unquillo to continue his preparations in peace and quiet. Whether there's going to be interviews or further news while he's there - we'll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, on to the next instalment the "Davis Cup Flashback" series. This time, we'll take a look back at the last away tie Argentina played against Spain. That was in the semifinal 2003 and it was a somewhat unusual tie, also due to a notable absence...
The Spanish line-up for this tie included two Top10 players, Juan Carlos Ferrero (no.1 at the time) and Carlos Moya (#6). But Argentina could've matched that - had it not been for a case of double injury trouble.
While Guillermo Coria (#5) was out with an adductor tear, David (who had just reached the semifinal at the US Open and was ranked #9) was sidelined with an abdominal tear and an inflammation in his right wrist.
In the end, it fell to Gaston Gaudio and Mariano Zabaleta to contest the first two singles. Both lost, but while Gaudio didn't stand a chance against Ferrero, Zabaleta led by two sets to love before Moya turned around the match. On the brink of defeat after the first day, Argentina was kept alive by the doubles, not exactly a traditional Argentine strength. But Agustin Calleri and Lucas Arnold Ker managed to beat Alex Corretja and Albert Costa and after on the third day, Calleri also pulled off a surprise victory over Ferrero, the tie went down to the fifth rubber - and ended the way it had begun, with a comprehensive defeat for Gaudio, this time at the hands of Moya.
Still, even without being able to rely on their two best players at the time and after losing the first two rubbers, Argentina managed to make it close, much closer than anyone would've thought back then. A tie to remember.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

David: We Have to Be Ready for Battle

Training at the Vilas Club this week, with the Buenos Aires Challenger (also known as Copa Topper) taking place there as well, it was clear from the start that David wouldn't be able to escape the attention of the Argentine media. So instead of doing a whole series of interviews, David decided to do it all in one go, in form of the press conference he held at the Vilas Club earlier today (and the second part of which you can watch here).
Here's a summary of what he told the assembled press.

The current state of affairs
He's fine, he has recovered from his tear (he says tear) and everything is going according to plan. He has taken up training again and it's going really well, each day he's getting a little better.

Thinking about the final?
All the time. After all, recovering and getting in shape for the final is what he's working on now and it's very important for him. Today, he also had a little talk with Tito Vázquez (who's at the Vilas Club this week). Right now, Pico Monaco is the only Argentine player who's still 'on the road' but soon they'll all get together and train together, trying to get in the best possible shape for Sevilla.

The slow court at Sevilla
The court will be slow, also because it'll be winter in Spain. Right now, they don't know what exactly it's going to be like but they have to focus on themselves and getting in form for this very difficult tie and ultimately, that's going to be more important than the speed of the court.

On which day? Maybe on all three?
There are different possible alternatives and also many different opinions about this. But in the end, the captain will decide. It's obviously going to be a very tough tie, especially against Rafa Nadal on clay. When they'll get together in Buenos Aires they'll start working on a strategy but each of the five rubbers will be difficult.
As for playing on all three days, he never said that he won't ever do it again but on clay that's difficult. Adding (with a grin) that if he could, he'd play all five rubbers himself but the rules don't allow it.

Pico and his recent good results
It's still three weeks and they'll have to see how everybody is by then. But Juan "Pico" Monaco's results give him confidence and the more alternatives they have for the final, the better.

A difficult comeback
Being sidelined and unable to do what you want to do is always hard. Physically he feels very good now and he wants to play of course, even more so in a Davis Cup final. Though normally he wouldn't necessarily get to play against the top guys right away. But he thinks he'll be in good shape for Sevilla, both physically and in terms of his tennis, he'll be ready for anything.

Preparations cut short
It does have an effect that he wasn't able to play the last two events on his schedule, in terms of rhythm and match practice. That was what he wanted to gain, playing in Asia and Europe. Now he'll have to play the final after five weeks without playing and he'll be lacking match practice but he'll give his best.

Del Potro and his withdrawal from Paris
It's a shame that Del Potro couldn't play Paris, it would've been good for him and his confidence. He was playing well these last few weeks and David hopes that it's nothing serious with his shoulder. But every player knows what's best for him and if Del Potro gets some rest now and that works for him then so much for the better.

A chance of winning
There's always a chance of winning, though it's going to be five extremely tough rubbers. The Spanish team is obviously the favourite but they, i.e. the Argentine team, have to be ready for what's going to be a battle.

Plans for the coming weeks
This week he'll stay in Buenos Aires, next week he'll be back home in Unquillo again before on Monday the 21st, the team will meet in Buenos Aires, to train and talk, and to work on a strategy together with the captain.

- And to get ready for battle...


Monday, November 7, 2011

Rankings Update

(José Gabriel Hernández/La Voz)

UpdateII (8/11)
Today, apart from spending more time at the gym, David took to the practice court for the first time since Stockholm for some "very light training" - the first steps on the road to Sevilla (source).
On Thursday, he'll talk to the press at the Vilas Club (currently also the site of the Buenos Aires Challenger). Then we'll get to know more.

David has been spotted at the Vilas Club in Buenos Aires - but so far only at the gym.
Edit: His first tennis practice will take place tomorrow (source).

First of all, a look at the rankings after Basel. Those 90 points David has lost now (from making the quarterfinal last year) see him drop down five positions to #62 this week. Next Monday, he'll lose around another five places when his Paris Masters points from last season come off.

This week, David is scheduled to begin with practicing on clay, provided that everything has been going according to plan with his physical training. Whether or not that's the case is still a mystery at this point. But I'll try my best to keep you posted about any news concerning David's progress and his Davis Cup preparations.

Meanwhile, Juan Martin Del Potro has pulled out of the Paris Masters, citing "pain in his right shoulder" as the reason for his withdrawal (source). As this also puts a definitive end to his chances of qualifying for the World Tour Final, Del Potro now joins the ranks of Argentine Davis Cup players, recovering and preparing for Sevilla away from the tournament courts (along with David and Juan Ignacio Chela). With Juan Monaco, runner-up at Valencia, left as the only Argentine in the draw at Paris, while Eduardo Schwank is playing the Challenger at Buenos Aires this week.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"On the Road to Sevilla" - Davis Cup Final Season starts on VD

With the Davis Cup final now 27 days away, and in the absence of any further tournaments to cover, today marks the official beginning of the Davis Cup final season here on Vamos David. From now on, everything will be all about the final, we'll be "on the road to Sevilla" and to what will be the biggest event for David since he made his comeback on the Tour.
But as much as I'd like to be able to tell you more about his training and the progress he's hopefully making - nothing has been heard all week from Mr. Nalbandian.

While David is is once more "in hiding" today's semifinals at Valencia saw two Spanish/Argentine clashes. A "mini-Davis" as it was called in the Spanish press that ended with a draw. While Juan Monaco managed to pull off a surprise victory over David Ferrer, Juan Martin Del Potro lost to Marcel Granollers. With Del Potro's defeat all but ending his chances of qualifying directly for the World Tour Final. And as he already said earlier this week that he won't be going to London as an alternate (source), this means that he should have enough time to rest and then train on clay ahead of Sevilla.

A few more words about VD's Davis Cup final season. During the coming weeks, I will of course keep track of David's preparations and any news concerning the team. But apart from that I'm also going to take a look at the bigger picture, at those things surrounding what's regarded as a hugely important event, both in Spain and in Argentina (and not just by David). Which will include an occasional look at Davis Cup history, the "Davis Cup Flashbacks", indicated by the little graphic below to the right. Today, I'll begin with the last time Spain lost a tie at home...

When David sealed Argentina's victory over Russia in the quarterfinal last year, he also sealed Russia's first defeat at home in fifteen years. In Spain's case "only" twelve years have gone by since the last time they lost a tie on home soil and with a bit of goodwill that may pass for good news.
The bad news, however, is that back in the first round in 1999, it took one of the best clay-courters in recent history to bring about that last defeat - Brazil's Gustavo "Guga" Kuerten. Two years after winning his first title at Roland Garros (thanks, Anonymous), Kuerten (ranked #18 at the time) played on all three days, beating Alex Corretja (#6) and Carlos Moya (#2) in singles as well as winning a marathon five-set doubles with Jaime Oncins against Alex Corretja and Albert Costa (now Spain's captain). A Herculean effort from Guga - and that's what it took to beat Spain at home.

Last but not least - David's Davis Cup teammate Eduardo Schwank completes the field for this year's Copa Argentina exhibition (December 15-18).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Recovery Update

Apparently, previous reports that David would be able to begin practising on clay already this week were a bit too optimistic (or perhaps, they were based on a misunderstanding). According to a new article published by Clarin today, David started training again yesterday - but right now, it's only physical training. Until, if all goes well with that, he'll start practicing on clay next week in Buenos Aires (source).

While David is once more on the recovery trail, the Spanish federation RFET has released a first computer-generated image of the projected court, stands and roof to be erected at Sevilla's La Cartuja stadium. The removable construction (estimated to cost around €430.000) will differ slightly from the one used back in 2004 in order to increase visibility from all sides and seats.

As mentioned in the previous update, Tito Vázquez and Caio Rivera visited Sevilla and La Cartuja last weekend. Here's the captain's verdict on the plans of the RFET and the Spanish team:
Spain has chosen well. Apart from playing on clay they've gone for a court that's not enclosed but outdoors, though with a roof. That favours their players so they're the favourites.
The Davis Cup still owes one to Argentina. Spain, as the home team, is obviously the favourite but we beat Serbia in Belgrade. And the Spanish team will surely be very grateful for it because otherwise they would've had to play the final there [against Serbia in Belgrade]. (Source.)
By now, Vázquez and Rivera have travelled on to Valencia for the planned team meeting - that's now going to take place without David.