Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Last Post of the Year

That's it - the year 2012 is over.
Well, here on this blog, at least.
Vamos David takes a break now.
But as always it'll be back in time for the new year.

So, happy holidays! From David and from me.

And I hope I'll see you all again in 2013. :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Look ahead at 2013

There were times during this season, and especially after its premature end, when I thought that I might not get to write the kind of post I'm writing now. About 2013 and another season with David.
I had to be prepared for the very worst, had to think about the future of this blog in case of such a scenario. But now I won't have to think about these things for another year. And thank goodness for that. Or rather - thanks, David.

So the difficult and overall disappointing season 2012, complete with the rather irritable David we got to see so often this year, won't go down as his last season on the Tour. I've written about it before, I think he expected a lot from himself, this year. And it didn't work out in the end.

Now another season lies ahead for David. Another year of travelling, of airports and hotels, of training and playing tournaments and Davis Cup. That is to say - first Davis Cup and then tournaments, thanks to his decision to skip the Australian Open in favour of the first-round tie. But while putting the Davis Cup ahead of everything else, including Slams and his health, isn't really new and more like the number one constant in terms of David, his scheduling and his career, the question is whether outside of the Davis Cup 2013 can be a whole new start for David. After all that happened this season, from all the first-round defeats to the incidents.

I think it can be because David seems to have done something that I wasn't sure he'd do. After the pressure he put himself under this season, he seems to be planning a different way of approaching the next. Saying that his goal is to get back inside the Top50 again. Now, some will say that he should be aiming  much higher than that. But I think he's right, being realistic. And after all, this sort of approach leaves room for pleasant surprises.

So what to expect from 2013? A season that will definitely begin and hopefully also end with the Davis Cup. We could be in for a lot more Davis Cup drama next year, with Delpo's future on the team still a big question mark. Apart from that, what is known so far is that David will play the Golden Swing, as well as Indian Wells and Miami. The rest of the calendar still is unchartered territory at this point and David's schedule will also depend on getting wildcards. And perhaps also on the future priority in his life, his first child to be born in May.

I can't say what the 2013 season will bring for David. But I think that it can be a new start for him. I hope that's what it will be. We had too much grimness this year, it's time for a change. And if David finds a way of enjoying himself on court again, who knows what might happen.

Update (21/12)
(Mario Sar/Primiciasya)
In case you're wondering what David is doing these days - last night, together with his girlfriend Victoria he attended the premiere of the comedy "Complicados" at a theatre in Villa Carlos Paz (not too far from Unquillo). They also got to meet the actors backstage. More photos on the Photo Page.

Today, he'll be in Santa Fe, to take part in a farewell game for footballer Esteban "Bichi" Fuertes.

For now, I'll leave you with this little clip here...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Look Back at David's 2012 Season

It's been a year with some very good results on the one hand, and others that were not what I was hoping for.
That's how David put it and that's one way of putting it. But I think it's safe to say that 2012 really was unlike anything David could've possibly imagined. - Or what he was hoping for.
He finishes this year ranked #82. That's the lowest year-end ranking he's had since his very first year on the Tour. After a season that once more ended with injury troubles and with only 38 matches - just like back in 2010. Though back then, he played fewer tournaments (11 to this year's 16). In short, 2012 really wasn't a good year for David, for various reasons. Here's a look back at the season that seemed promising at first but then took a very different turn.

(Mauro Alfieri/La Nacion)
The good...
Early on, it looked like this would be a good season for David. He seemed in to be in great shape and far less prone to injury than in recent years. The best example was the Golden Swing. Previously always good for another adductor tear but this time, David played all of it, and directly after the first round of Davis Cup. And making the quarterfinal at São Paulo and the semifinal at the Copa Claro he played the second best Golden Swing of his career.
But the best event by far for David this year was Indian Wells. Historically not the most successful of grounds for him (though still more so than Miami or Cincy), David battled his way through a tough draw and beat two Top10 players in Tipsarevic and Tsonga on his way to the quarterfinal. There, he lost Nadal. But although David came pretty close to beating him that match takes us straight to:

(Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
The bad...
One of David's problems this season was that that he lost those matches where he played his best tennis. Whether against Nadal at Indian Wells, against Murray at Rome, or against Isner at the Australian Open (the one and only match, involving two incidents, one concerning a challenge during it, and the other concerning water...).
Another problem can be summed up by a single number - 7. That's the number of first-round exits David suffered this year. Now, seven is not a record for David. That stands at ten and dates back to 2002. But back then he played 24 tournaments. This season, he played 16. So he went out in the first round at almost half of the events he played. And that's not the end of it...

(Sang Tan/AP Photo)
The ugly...
It was a moment of madness that made headlines around the globe. And it turned David into "the player, who kicked a line judge", complete with the inevitable internet shitstorm that followed. Some journalists, like Matt Cronin and Jon Wertheim, called for David to be banned from the Tour, while Nadal, Murray and also Cilic defended him, pointing out that the whole thing had been nothing more than an unfortunate accident.
David lost his ranking points and prize money from that week and also received the maximum fine. But nothing has ever been heard again of the criminal charges that the line judge in question filed against David.
As to why he lost it during the Queen's Club final, at a point in the match where he had just dropped his serve but led by a set and had a good chance to win - my theory you'll find here.

The aftermath
That moment of madness also proved be the turning point of David's season. After the Queen's Club final, he only got to play five more events until the injury he picked up ahead of the US Open ended his season. And at those five events he managed to win exactly one match (against Haase at Winston-Salem). At the other four, including Wimbledon and the London Olympics, David didn't make it past the first round, first losing to Tipsarevic twice in a row and then to Haas, also twice in a row.

(Daniel Garcia/Getty Images)
La Copa Davis
After three stormy years with Tito Vázquez, this year a new era in Argentine Davis Cup tennis began - with David's former coach Martin Jaite as the new captain.
The premiere took place in Bamberg, in the first round against Germany, with David first defeating Mayer and then clinching the tie for Argentina in the doubles with Edu Schwank (coming back from to sets down).
The quarterfinal tie against Croatia at the Parque Roca proved to be more of a battle. David lost his singles match against Cilic but then won the doubles, again playing together with Edu Schwank, before Delpo sealed Argentina's victory.
The most controversial tie of the year, however, the lost semifinal against the Czech Republic (the eventual champions), David had to follow from the stands. Far away from the action on court - and also far away from the drama. For once...

It's been a bad, crazy, unlucky and really difficult year for David. Not the kind of season we were hoping for and also certainly not the kind of season he was hoping for. I believe that his hopes and expectations for this season might have been a bit too high. That he was putting himself under a lot of pressure. And that this was also why he lost it at the Queen's Club.
But the good thing about this season is - he really couldn't let it end like this. Judging by his recent interviews, it seems that he wants to approach the next season in a different, more relaxed manner (except when it comes to the Davis Cup, of course). And as far as I'm concerned, that's a good idea. For what's in all probability going to be his last season.
More about that, as in a look ahead at 2013, next week.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Brief Update

(Pedro Castillo/MundoD)

Of the truly bad and unpleasant sort for David - who has become the victim of a burglary.
His home in Unquillo was broken into at around 1.30am today. Bernardo Ballero explains:
Last night, David and his girlfriend Victoria had gone out for dinner. And when they came back they realised that there had been a burglary. (Source.)

They were not at home, there was the discomfort of coming home and finding their belongings in a mess, with several of them stolen. (Source.)
The burglars, now "searched for intensively by the police" took off with "two laptops, five wristwatches and an unspecified amount of cash" (source). The material loss is one thing, the knowledge that someone broke into your home is quite another. Hopefully, David and Victoria can recover from this experience soon...

Update II (13/12)
What has been recovered is their belongings. Apparently, the police discovered several bags yesterday evening, hidden by the burglars and containing "all of those items that were stolen during the previous night" (source).

The last event of the 2012 season is over, the last match of the year has been played.
But while Vamos David will soon go on holiday (to return, as always, with a new look on David's birthday) for David himself the hard work starts now. As it's time to begin with his pre-season training for next year, at the Inés Gorrochategui Academy.
And apparently, he won't be alone, as this photo from yesterday shows - of Edu Schwank, training at the academy with David's brother Javier, who used to be Edu's coach and now seems to be working with him again. So David and Edu might do the pre-season together, which in that case could include some extra doubles practices for future Davis Cup duties.

But will it really take until February and the first-round tie for David to put his training to good use? I've mentioned it before, there have been rumours about an exhibition in January. In this context, David's spokesman Bernardo Ballero told news agency DPA that he has "a few commitments in Córdoba", though he didn't say when or against who. Another exhibition that could happen next year, though not until November, is a possible match between David and Rafa Nadal (source). It's not the first time that there's talk about an exhibition like that, we'll see if it takes place, this time around.
So an exhibition in January is a possibility but still hardly more than a rumour at this stage. Whereas the following piece of info from New Zealand is a bit of a surprise. As several news sites report, the Auckland tournament director is "in talks with former world No 3 David Nalbandian" (as well as with some other players) about a wildcard (source). The surprising part being that David apparently hasn't said no, right away, though you'd expect him to.

Meanwhile, the whole of Argentina (or so it seems) is going crazy about the exhibition event with two matches between Delpo and Roger Federer, taking place today and tomorrow. During the press conference yesterday, Delpo once more refused to answer any questions about his future on the Davis Cup team.
The event also includes a match between the two godfathers of Argentine Davis Cup drama: Guillermo Vilas and José Luis Clerc. Thirty years ago, their relentless feuding ruined their chances of winning the title (see post). Now Clerc has called for unity among the current players, telling them to "embrace each other". And both Vilas and Clerc have offered to help the Davis Cup team (source). What the AAT and Martin Jaite will say to that - we'll see.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Last Event of the Year

It's always nice to play against him and there's always some entertaining stuff that happens.
That's what Nicolas Almagro said after his 7-6(6), 6-4 victory over David on Saturday, a match during which some entertaining stuff did indeed happen, from spectacular rallies to many a laugh the two of them shared on court. The clip above (if it doesn't show or play go here) includes a couple of those moments, as well as Almagro, adding that in his opinion, David is a "top player" and that the "talent he possesses is incredible". Still, Almagro proved to be too strong for David on Saturday, and he was also too strong for Pico in yesterday's final (which Almagro won 7-5, 6-2).

(Mauro Alfieri/La Nacion)
So no final for David this time around but the two matches he got to play were still a nice and conciliatory ending for what was a rather difficult season. And after his not very successful and increasingly grim performances in the second half of the year, and the uncertainty concerning the next, it was great to finally see him enjoying himself on court again. That's what I'll take from this year's Copa Argentina and I hope that's what he'll take from it, too.

Last but not least, you may remember this kind of interview from Roland Garros where they did the same thing, with the players answering questions in the car, on their way to the stadium. And here's David, on his way to the BALTC, not nervous because he's going to play but because he's in the back seat (as he says)...

Playing in Argentina means playing at home, enjoying to play in front of his home crowd, and the crowd enjoys it too because they don't get than many chances to watch the Argentine players live.
He has many ("muuuchos") favourite tournaments. It always depends on how you play and on the results, all of that plays a role. But the greatest tournaments are the Grand Slams, Melbourne, Paris, London, New York. Slams are just spectacular.
He decided to become a tennis player when he was still very young and that has shaped who he is. He chose it because his family played tennis and because he liked it.
Asked to pick a player, David goes for Roger Federer, who's "the greatest", the ideal player and a simply a "crack".

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Copa Argentina - David Is Back

Update II
It was an entertaining match with some spectacular rallies, as well as lots of banter and laughs shared by David and Nicolas Almagro. But in the end, his Spanish buddy was too strong for David. So Almagro won the match 7-6(6), 6-4 and that means the Copa Argentina is over for David, who will now soon begin with his pre-season training for next year.

Edit: More on Monday.

(Cancha Llena)

After the heavy rains on Thursday and the last-minute addition of an extra session on Friday, the stands were not exactly packed, yesterday. But those who were fortunate enough to spend the afternoon at the BALTC not only got to see David's return, they were also treated to what was by all accounts a great perfomance from him. Earning him a 6-1, 7-6(4) victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Today, in his second match at the Copa Argentina, David will face Nicolas Almagro. And since Almagro defeated Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-3 last night, the winner of their encounter will advance to the final (against either Pico or Gilles Simon). But most importantly - today we'll finally get to see David play as this time there's going to be a stream.

Here's a clip with a couple of points from yesterday's match and a happy David, saying in his post-match interview that this is a great start for him after such a long time, that he's already focusing on the next season and that playing in Argentina and experiencing the support from his home crowd always means a lot to him.

A few words from David, after his match yesterday:

He feels great, it's a difficult stage of the year for the players, with this season over and the pre-season for next year about to begin, so they're all a bit tired. But exhibition matches are never really as exhausting as real matches. It was a nice match against a difficult opponent, who plays fast and has very flat strokes. That makes it difficult to find your rhythm. But all in all it was a good match and he's feeling good.
- And hopefully, he also will, today.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Copa Argentina - The Day of David's (Delayed) Return

Update II
Over three and a half months after his last official match (against Alexandr Dolgopolov) David has won his first match at the Copa Argentina, defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1, 7-6(4).
More tomorrow, when it'll also be time for David's second match against Nicolas Almagro.
And for that there will be a stream.

(event website)

Bad news: David's match is no longer listed on LiveScoreHunter.
Edit: Apparently, there won't be a stream for it.

It wasn't really the best start for the 10th anniversary edition of the Copa Argentina yesterday: Torrential rainfalls in Buenos Aires drowned the schedule for the first day of play and with it David's match, forcing the organisers to add an extra afternoon session to be played today.

It's not the first time that this happens, as the photo above shows. Back in 2009, it was the Saturday matches that fell victim to bad weather. And in the end, David had to play two matches on Sunday, his second match of the group stage (against Gaudio, see above) at noon and then the final against Baghdatis in the evening (report here).

Today, however, David will only have to play one match, against Alexandr Dolgopolov (who will have to play two matches, just like Charly Berlocq). His first in three and a half months, and that makes it difficult to know what to expect. And it remains to be seen how seriously David and Dolgopolov will take this match. But in any case it's great that he's finally back again.

Today's afternoon session will begin at 5pm local (8pm GMT/3pm EST) with the match between Pico and Charly Berlocq. After that, it'll be David's turn, so his match will start at around 7pm local (10pm GMT/5pm EST). And there'll be no weather worries today, as the forecast predicts perfect playing conditions - for a hopefully great, though delayed, first day of the Copa Argentina, and for David's return.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Copa Argentina - David's Return Delayed

(Sergio Llamera)

106 days after playing his last official match of this season, against Alexandr Dolgopolov at Winston-Salem, today was supposed to be the day David would finally play a match again, once more against Alexandr Dolgopolov but this time at the Copa Argentina.
That was the plan.
But what got in the way was - the weather.
Due to heavy rains (see photo by Pico) there won't be any tennis at the BALTC today.
And today's matches have been postponed until tomorrow (source).
They will now be played during an additional day session, starting at 5pm local.
For David, this means that his match will probably take place around 7pm local (10pm GMT/5pm EST).

So David will return, 107 days after playing his last official match - tomorrow.
I'll be adding a couple more things to this post, to pass the time...

- Here we go.
First of all, two new Topper Copa David clips you can watch here and here.

Then there's an old and controversial topic, addressed now by someone who has witnessed what he's talking about first-hand. David and Delpo, and the Davis Cup team, in the words of Juan Ignacio Chela, who announced his retirement earlier this week.
I think what's happening between David and Juan Martin, who are the most important players... is that they're never going to be friends.
They don't love each other, that's the way it is.
According to Chela, many of Argentina's great players, including David and Delpo, are not exactly easy to get along with and "not uncomplicated". And what's missing is that the players don't talk enough to each other, don't treat each other in a straightforward manner. Though he also recalled an occasion where David was rather straightforward with him:
Once he grabbed me and told me, "if I'm going to play the doubles, I prefer to play it with Schwank". For me, that meant I was out of team. But he told me, you know? I didn't like what he said but I appreciated that.
As for David and Delpo, Chela hopes that in the future, they'll be handling the situation "like the pros they are", that they "don't get worked up about what the other does" and that they "respect each other".

Apart from that, here's an old photo I came across this week. Do you recognise everybody?


Finally, David tells an anecdote about an unusual encounter with (and for) Roger Federer:
An anecdote of mine with Federer is that once, I was in Monte Carlo, playing PlayStation with Moya, Nadal and Ferrer. The losers had to go down to the lobby in their underpants and when they did they ran into Federer and his wife, who saw them...
(Source 1 & 2)
Though he conveniently forgot to mention whether he was among those who lost that day.
So much for today, I'll see you tomorrow for David's return.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Copa Argentina Presentation

In the past, the official presentation on the day before the event was where the draw and the schedule were announced. This time, both were already released last week so it was basically "just" a normal press conference that took place at a hotel in Buenos Aires today. Out of the six players, four were present, Pico and Charly Berlocq, as well as David and his opponent tomorrow, Alexandr Dolgopolov (Nicolas Almagro and Gilles Simon arrived today).

So, another press conference for David and some more questions from journalists for him to face. In the clip above, he gets asked about the way he'll approach the next season.
The Davis Cup will be his "fundamental" goal but what happens on the Tour going to depend on continuity, on how regularly he'll be able to play and whether there'll be further injuries.
But then it gets more concrete - David says that he's planning to play "all of the South American swing" and then Indian Wells and Miami. Everything after that he still has to see about and it'll also be a matter of ranking (and getting wildcards).
So after a late start next year, and skipping the Australian Open, it's apparently a very busy schedule that David has planned for February and March - the Davis Cup first-round tie, Viña del Mar, São Paulo, the Copa Claro, Acapulco and then on to Indian Wells and Miami.

Apart from that, David also told the journalists that he has been training for several weeks and that he's ready to play the Copa Argentina (source). And it starts for him tomorrow.
His match against Alexandr Dolgopolov will be the second match of the night at the BALTC (after Pico vs Charly Berlocq). I guess the starting time will be around 10.30pm local (1.30am GMT/8.30pm EST). Whether there'll be streams - we'll find out.

Last but not least, here's a greeting from David, inviting you to the Copa Argentina.

Monday, December 3, 2012

David & The Copa Argentina - Some Memorable Moments

When it comes to David's schedule, few things are, or have ever been, certain. And not just because of injuries or the Davis Cup. But there is one event that has been part of his schedule each and every year since 2004 - the Copa Peugeot Argentina de Tenis.

Held at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, which also hosts the Copa Claro, the Copa Argentina is usually David's last event of the year, a chance to play in front of his home crowd and to simply have some fun. At this event, pretty much anything can happen, from rather serious matches (mostly in the final) to not so very serious ones, including laughs and banter between the players. But what's guaranteed is a great atmosphere and some entertaining tennis under the lights at the BALTC.
This year, the Copa Argentina celebrates its 10th anniversary. On the occasion, here's a look back at some memorable moments...

(event website)
2005 - The first title (and the first Peugeot)
It was the year Guga Kuerten and Delpo paid a visit to the BALTC, though a a short one, as both lost the first match they played (no Super Six format until 2009). It was also the year David came to the Copa Argentina as the newly-crowned Masters Cup champion. And he finished the season by winning his first Copa Argentina (with victories over Pico, Chela, and then Calleri in the final). Complete with winning the first of by now altogether four Peugeot cars. I guess it's safe to say that he was a lot more excited about the Mercedes he got for his victory at Shanghai...

(event website)
2006 - Football-tennis, deluxe edition
In tennis terms, and although it had been a great season for him, the Copa Argentina 2006 wasn't really something to write home about. David lost his first match against Nicolas Lapentti and that was it. But at least he got to take part in a very special round of football-tennis. David and the one and only Diego Maradona against Carlos Moya and Guillermo Cañas.

2008 - Making amends...
After winning the title for a second time in 2007, David's return to the Copa Argentina in 2008 was overshadowed by what had happened a month earlier
- Mar del Plata. And his controversial role in the final. Playing his first match against Chela, David initially received a frosty reaction from the crowd but then managed to win them over again by giving everything he could in this match. But it wasn't enough. David (troubled by his hip injury at the time) lost to Chela but reconciled the crowd.

(Fue Buena)
2009 - Comeback... with a bang!
Seven months after hip surgery, and after winning his first exhibition in San Juan, David made an amazing comeback at the Copa Argentina, with the crowd celebrating his return. After beating Carlos Moya (see clip above), taking a set against Gaston Gaudio was enough to reach the final against Marcos Baghdatis (see clip below). In a highly entertaining match David eventually prevailed in straight sets, winning what surely was his most unexpected of all the titles he won at this event. And prompting Baghdatis to affectionately call him a "pain in the ass" (unfortunately, that moment is not in the clip), a verdict he'd later repeat after the Washington final 2010.

In 2010, David won the Copa Argentina for a record-breaking fourth time, with victories over Chela, Marat Safin (in a not very serious but very entertaining match) and eventually Pico in the final. Last year, however, his appearance already ended after his first match, even though he won it. After a great performance against Juan Carlos Ferrero, David was forced to pull out due to knee problems.

What this year's Copa Argentina is going to bring for David, who hasn't played a match since August and will find himself up against some rather tough opponents - we'll see. But in any case it'll be great to finally see him on court again. (Fingers crossed for streams...)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Copa Argentina: Draw & Schedule

(event website)

It's the ninth year in a row that David is going to play the Copa Argentina exhibition. And it's the fifth year of covering this event here on Vamos David for me. But this is a first. In the past, the draw always took place during a press conference on the day before the event. But this time, the organisers apparently thought it was time for a change and they released the draw and the schedule already today. So, earlier than planned, here's what's ahead next week.

The Copa Argentina is held in the "Super Six" format. Two round-robin groups of three players each, the winners of which get to contest the final. And here are this year's groups:

Group A
Gilles Simon
Edit: Charly Berlocq
(Fernando Verdasco has pulled out.)

Group B
Nicolas Almagro
Alexandr Dolgopolov

Not exactly an easy group for David. Or rather, the most difficult one for him ever since the introduction of the Super Six format back in 2009. Whether David will enjoy the challenge, and whether he'll be up for it - we'll see.
And here's the complete schedule of play for this year's Copa Argentina:
(Play starts 8.30pm local; the final on Sunday starts 7pm local.)

Thursday (6/12)
Pico vs Charly Berlocq
David vs Alexandr Dolgopolov

Friday (7/12)
Gilles Simon vs Charly Berlocq
Nicolas Almagro vs Alexandr Dolgopolov

Saturday (8/12)
David vs Nicolas Almagro
Pico vs Gilles Simon

So, 106 days after his last official match at Winston-Salem against Alexandr Dolgopolov, David is going to play an exhibition match at the BALTC - against Alexandr Dolgopolov. Whether that's a good omen or a bad one I'll leave to you to decide...
I'll try my best to provide stream links for David's matches. Any help will be appreciated.
Here's hoping that we'll get to see David play - it's been a while.
More about his Copa Argentina history still to come. Soon.

Update (01/12)
Here's the new Topper "Copa David" ad:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Great News for David (& Copa Claro Presentation)

It was supposed to be an important day for the Copa Claro and its organisers with the official presentation of next year's edition (February 18-24). But their "guest star" ended up stealing their thunder. And the piece of info that immediately made the rounds on the social networks and in the media had little to do with the Copa Claro. Or with tennis, for that matter.
I posted it in the comments (of the previous post), and only there because it wasn't official. But now it is: David will become a father. His girlfriend Victoria Bosch is expecting a child, to be born next May. Great news for them but also news that came out sooner than planned.
The information was leaked [to the press]. We would've liked to announce it, ourselves. Victoria and me, we are very happy.
Now, we've already speculated about how this might affect David's schedule.
For now, the birth of the baby won't change my tennis calendar.
That's what he says now (and for now) - we'll see.
What's clear though, and now also official, is that David is going to play the 2013 edition of the Copa Claro. Where he'll be joined by this year's champion David Ferrer, this year's runner-up Nicolas Almagro and also Stanislas Wawrinka, who obviously had a good time in Buenos Aires this year despite not making the final. Pico on the other hand hasn't been confirmed yet (the initial info was wrong) but the organisers are in talks with him, and also with Kei Nishikori (source).
In any case, David is looking forward to playing his home tournament:
It's always motivating for me to play in front my home crowd. It's going to be a pleasure to play in Buenos Aires again. It's something that I enjoy very much and I think it's unlike anything else.
Speaking of which, in the clip above David first says that he watched some matches on TV while he was out, injured and then also gets asked to pick the most memorable match he played at Buenos Aires. After giving it some thought he goes for "the match against Potito" Starace. And there were three of those at this event, including his comeback match after hip surgery. But the one David means is the quarterfinal 2008, an epic battle in front of a very vocal crowd, including an especially vocal Diego Maradona, that David eventually won in three sets (match point here). All of that on his way to winning the title that year.

What's going to happen at the beginning of next year, however, that's the one thing he apparently didn't talk about. Or at least, I haven't been able to find out anything more about whether David is indeed going to skip the Australian Open...

Update (29/11)
According to Danny Miche, he will and his first event in 2013 is going to be the Davis Cup tie against Germany (February 1-3).
Edit: Quique Cano agrees and says it's official - no David at the Australian Open.

Ahead for David now are his preparations for the next season:
I feel good, physically. I'm going to do a demanding pre-season with the intention of starting the next year without any of the pain or problems that have kept me from playing, this season.
And of course the Copa Argentina, next week. More about it soon.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

More Interviews & Copa David

Update (26/11)
As announced by the AAT today, the Davis Cup first-round tie next year is going to be held at the Parque Roca - on clay (thanks, Leandro).
Going by what he said in recent interviews, this means that David will do his pre-season on clay and won't play the Australian Open.
Whether this is definitive I guess we'll find out on Wednesday, at the Copa Claro presentation.

(Daniel Caceres/Clarin)
There are lots of things in life that David enjoys more than giving interviews. But from time to time he agrees to doing a whole round of them, like earlier this week in Villa Allende.
Two further interviews from his "media marathon" on Monday, both by Hernan Sartori for Clarin, were published yesterday.
One of them you'll find below.
The other, longer one, which is all about the Davis Cup, I've added in another backdated post that you can read here.
David: I miss competing because it's the adrenaline I've had since I was very young. It's something that's really great about this sport, also having fellow players you've known for many years. When something like that [an injury] happens you want to get those sensations back again.

Q: How did you deal with those first moments after the injury?

David: At first, I tried to make things happen a little faster but when I saw that it wasn't possible I took my foot off the gas and and did a rehabilitation that was a bit more relaxed, knowing that I wasn't going to play anything else this year.

Q: What kind of role does the mind play when an athlete gets injured?

David: It's never great to be injured because you're always ready to be on court. But things like that happen and unfortunately, they happened to me. I hope I can have a good start in 2013. It's important to think about what's ahead and not about the past.

Q: Are you planning to return step by step or as if nothing happened?

David: No, normal. I'll play the Copa Argentina, I'll do the pre-season and next year I'll be fully fit. I have to decide if I'm going to play the Australian Open because the Davis Cup will take place immediately afterwards and you have to think about the adaptation to the surface. And I'm going to play the South American swing.
Here, it sounds like going to the Australian Open will be something he'll decide and not just the consequence of the surface chosen for the first-round tie, like in the other interviews.
In any case, David obviously doesn't know or doesn't care to use the name that ATP has come up with for the South American events, i.e. the Golden Swing.
Q: Are you going to set goals for yourself from the start or do you want to enjoy your return?

David: Both. I want to enjoy going back to playing again because that's what I've been missing. But I also want to make it back inside the Top50 in the ranking, out of which I've dropped because of the injury. And the Davis Cup remains to be an objective.

Q: Which David Nalbandian would you like to be in six months?

David: I want to be healthy, competing and enjoying another year of tennis and what the sport has given to me.

Q: Without too much pressure?

David: With the Davis Cup there will be pressure because it's great to play it. And I think that I can achieve the goal of getting back inside the Top50 next year.

Q:  You're 30 years old now, with a few more years to go. What would you like the end of your career to be like?

David: Healthy, competing and achieving goals. When you stop having goals and objectives it gets very difficult to train, to have the right attitude and to compete. You always have to have clear goals and achieve them.

Apart from that, there's the new Topper campaign, soon to be released. Featuring Topper's two big stars, who share the same first name, David and footballer David Trezeguet. And therefore to be called "Copa David" (more pics from the shoot you can view on the Photo Page). 
Apparently, it'll be an interactive campaign, involving several rounds, with a match against either of the Davids as the main prize.

And this seems to be the new shirt that Topper have designed for David,
a bit like a variation of the old one and an improvement, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Meanwhile at the BALTC the court is being prepared for the tenth anniversary edition of the Copa Argentina, now less than two weeks away. More about the event and David's long history with it next week.

(Copa Argentina/FB)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

In David's Words - Supplement


So after months of silence we've now had two long interviews. And lots of replies from David to various questions about different topics. Among them the most important topic of them all, his plans for the coming season. To put those things he said into context - a little summary:

When and where the 2013 season will begin for David - that's still the question. Depending on the surface chosen for the first-round tie, it's either going to be at the Australian Open (January 14-27) or at the Davis Cup home tie against Germany (February 1-3).
Directly after that it'll be time for the Golden Swing. This year, David played all of it. Doing the same next year would mean Viña del Mar (according to the Chilean press, the organisers are trying to get David for their event), São Paulo, the Copa Claro and finally Acapulco. He'll play the Copa Claro but which ones of the other events remains to be seen.
According to ESPN, David will then play Indian Wells and Miami, for both of which he'll need and apparently get a wildcard (just like he would have this year, had he needed one).
After Miami, it'll then be Davis Cup week again and time for the quarterfinal (April 5-7).
- That's, roughly, what the first part of David's season will look like. 

David's ranking as it is now (#81) is still high enough to get into the main draw at Slams, at most 250 tournaments and at some of the 500s. But it's not enough for Masters events, so for playing any of those, David will depend on wildcards. It's either that, or getting back inside the Top50. But that won't be easy at the start of the season. After all, there's still that big question mark, concerning the Australian Open, and during the Golden Swing he'll have a number of points to defend before he can start adding anything to his count. Not to forget the quarterfinal points he'll be defending at Indian Wells. So to improve his ranking will be difficult during this first part of the season. And that means afterwards we'll not only find out which European tournaments David likes and wants to play but also which European Masters events will be willing to give him a wildcard.

Davis Cup
The next season could very well be David's last and final chance to win the title he wants more than anything else and to achieve the one big and long-standing goal that's still within his reach. Now, the Davis Cup has always been very important to David, to put it mildly,
also more important than Slams (see Wimbledon 2010). Next year, it'll be even "worse" and whether or not you like David's Davis Cup obsession, you can expect it to rule the next season, even more so than before. In other words, he might skip tournaments (including Slams, and not just the Australian Open) if he thinks that playing them interferes with his chances of doing well in Davis Cup.
What the next season will bring in terms of Davis Cup drama, well, that remains to be seen. I've mentioned it in the previous post, considering hardcourt for the first tie is apparently an attempt to get Delpo to play. And make what could be a new start after the lost semifinal.

So that's what's ahead for David and for us in 2013. Or at least, in the first few months of it. David's main goal for the season will of course be winning the Davis Cup. Apart from that, he has apparently done what I wasn't sure he'd do - he seems to have adjusted his expectations. Though if he gets to play Rafa for example, he'll still try to prove that he can beat him, that much is certain. But what I hope is that 2013 will see David enjoying himself on court again.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In David's Words: Davis Cup, Polo & Plans for 2013

(Pedro Castillo/MundoD)

It's been a while since I last had the chance to post some interviews. Two months, to be precise, during which practically nothing was to be heard from Mr. Nalbandian. Also not concerning the big question of whether he'd go on playing. He will - that much became known ahead of the round of interviews David gave yesterday at the Inés Gorrochategui Academy. But now, there's finally the chance to hear more from him, about what has happened in the meantime, as well as about his plans and goals for the next season.
There are two interviews that I've translated. The one below, by Fabian Sacarelli for MundoD, and an additional, shorter one that you'll find in this backdated post here.
So, without further ado, here's what David had to say.
Q: It's been a long break.

David: Yeah, though I didn't stop completely. I kept doing things for my fitness, two or three times a week so that I didn't lose what [fitness] I still had and can begin with the pre-season for next year in December. If I want to achieve my goals I have to start now, or next week if the circumstances allow it. So the idea was that if I recover and don't get to play anymore at the end of the year I'd stay in shape in order to not lose as much [fitness] and start the pre-season not totally out of practice.

Q: And it was good to get rid of the bitter taste, left by the Davis Cup [semifinal] defeat.

David: That weekend was tough. Because of the defeat, because of the goals that we had, because of everything. After that I wanted to try and play some events before the end of the season and that didn't work out, either. But the truth is that I still want to go on [playing] next year and face some important challenges. That's pretty much what I've planned but it didn't cross my mind after the defeat. I know that I can still fight and that's what I'll aim to do next year.

Q: But you were disappointed.

David: I wasn't exactly happy, the week after the defeat. I was pissed off because of the injury and not being able to play the tie. But I know that things like that happen and you have to deal with them.

Q: Without pressure in terms of the ranking or the results, perhaps you'll enjoy being on the Tour more.

David: I hope I'll enjoy the tournaments ahead. When you walk onto the court you want to win and the rest moves into the background. The idea is to enjoy it because it's a great sport that has given so much to me. Right now, I do [enjoy it] but when I'll lose the desire it'll be difficult to go on playing.

Q: The pre-season is going to determine how you start your schedule?

David: I'll do the pre-season in mid-December. Whether I'll go to Australia or not will depend on the surface they choose for the Davis Cup (in February against Germany). I'll have to wait for that but the plan is to play the tournaments in South America on clay. If I don't go to Australia, I'll do the pre-season on clay, and if I go I'll do it on hardcourt.
You're probably wondering why the surface is even an issue with this tie when they usually play their home ties on clay. But it's different this time and the only reason I can think of is
- Delpo. Who usually skips the first round of Davis Cup and doesn't play the Golden Swing but prefers to play on hardcourt, ahead of Indian Wells and Miami. I think that considering hardcourt for this tie is an attempt to include Delpo with the team.
Q: You're planning your schedule around the Davis Cup.

David: Yeah, it's what I'm going to start the year with, at the end of January and the first days of February [the first round takes place February 1-3].

Q: You'll pick the tournaments that you'll play, based on what?

David: Memories, things I like. Apart from that it also depends on the ranking, which ones I'm going to enter. Until the Miami Masters I have everything planned and then I'll see which part of the European swing I'm going to play.
(Irma Montiel/La Nacion)

Q: You're going to play on clay a lot.

David: Yeah, because if the Davis Cup tie in February is held on clay then it's not good to play on hardcourt ahead of it. It's practically certain that I'm going to play the tournament in Buenos Aires and the South American events.

Q: In the meantime, you've made an appearance in polo.

David: I suck (laughs) but I have fun together with Adolfito (Cambiaso), who invited me to play. The opportunity arose because I wasn't playing tennis and it was fun, we had a good team.

Q: You're really bad at polo?

David: Yeah, compared to them...

Q: But Cambiaso is like Maradona.

David: Yeah, but that's the reality I have to deal with (laughs). I have to be aware of it.

Q: After tennis, will there be more than just tennis?

David: Yeah, in life you move through different stages, and tennis is one of them. You can't spend your whole life, playing professionally. I already have several activities that I could do tomorrow. Sport is going to be one of them because I've always liked it and I still do, also other sports apart from tennis, polo, golf, motorsports.

Q: Other things outside of sports?

David: I'm a restless guy and I'm certainly going to do something. Right now, there are several things I could pursue every day, and I don't because I'm still playing tennis. The foundation for example, different undertakings that require time and are now in the background.

Q: How did it make you feel to see Stepanek, almost 34 years old, celebrate having won the Davis Cup?

David: It's great, a reward for all the effort, the sacrifice and the perseverance. They played all year with two players but they had a very good year and didn't get injured.

Q: What did they have that Argentina didn't?

David: It was a very tough tie. Had Juan Martin played on Sunday, they would've been fine. With the whole team there, we're better than them. We have a good team, we have to see how the encounters pan out but for the coming season we have a difficult draw.

Q: Germany will be a tough opponent.

David: Yeah, it's a very tough tie. We must all try and work towards having the best possible team.

Q: What would a satisfying year 2013 look like for you?

David: I think being inside the Top50. I can always get there if I get lucky in terms of injuries and don't get a tough draw at the big events. [Getting inside the Top] 20 or 30, that would be a good year.

Monday, November 19, 2012

News From David (Himself)

(Inés Gorrochategui Academy)

For the first time since the Davis Cup semifinal in September, David talked to members of the Argentine media today, meeting them at the Inés Gorrochategui Academy in Villa Allende.
There'll be more about what David had to say tomorrow, when the articles get published.
But one of the journalists who spoke to David, Guillermo Poggi for TN, tweeted some of his statements, some basic facts:

- David will play all of the 2013 season. Then he'll decide what to do (sounds familiar).
- He wants to play the Golden Swing and the Davis Cup first-round tie against Germany.
- On that tie, i.e. the surface used will depend whether he'll travel to Australia.
  If the tie is going to be played on clay he won't play the Australian Open.
- And he has recovered from his injury - though that much was clear from his polo stint.
(Sources: 1, 2, 3 & 4.)

So - another season with David. And one that will apparently be shaped by the Davis Cup, even more so than already before.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Tournament of a Different Kind - David's Polo Debut

(Emiliano Lasalvia/La Nacion)

Update (19/11)
Surprise - it looks like David is currently talking to the Argentine media at the Inés Gorrochategui Academy. More about it as soon as possible.

It's been ages, or so it seems, since David played his last tournament. And it's still almost three weeks until the Copa Argentina. The last two days, however, David spent playing a tournament - of a different kind. He took part in his first official polo event, the Copa Zafiro.
(Edit: Lots of additional pics now on the Photo Page.)
I'm very happy to be playing my first tournament and even more so because I get to do it together with a friend like Adolfito.
Adolfito is Adolfo Cambiaso, who's usually to be seen in David's box when he's playing tennis in Argentina or Britain, a friend David likes to go out and party with. But apart from that Cambiaso also is arguably the best polo player the world has ever known, head of the famous La Dolfina team and owner of the polo ranch by the same name, where the event was held. In short, David was introduced to the sport by a friend, who happens to be one of its superstars.

That David likes rally driving and golf is widely known. Polo is a more recent and less well-known addition but one that's apparently becoming more and more important for him:
(Emiliano Lasalvia/La Nacion)
I felt really good out there on the polo field. I think I'm making a lot of progress. I have to try and play more often.
He started buying polo ponies already a while ago and apparently, David has plans for setting up his own club in Unquillo.
Polo is one of my favourite sports. When I retire from tennis it could be that I start playing polo the next day.
He wouldn't be the first Argentine athlete to take that path. There's also ex-footballer Gabriel Batistuta, who went from striker on Argentina's national team to polo player and owner of his own club.

As for the tournament David played, the Copa Zafiro, it was a smaller event that consisted of two rounds. In his debut match, the one he got to play alongside Adolfo Cambiaso, David contributed two goals to the 14-8 victory of his team, called Imperial. In the final, David's team had to make do without Cambiaso but they still won 10-9, thanks to a golden goal scored in extra time. So David's polo debut ended with him, winning his first title, the kind of experience he must have missed (see pic below).
The La Nacion article I've taken the quotes from ends with the words, "that much is clear, while he's moving further away from tennis, he's moving closer to polo." Not yet, hopefully...


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Resolving The Uncertainties

With the Copa Argentina now three weeks away, there's still nothing to be heard from David (who has by now dropped to #81 in the rankings). No statement about his plans, nothing about the current situation.
But while there's no news from David himself, there's news about him - and it's great news.

According to a new press release on the Copa Claro website (thanks, Denise!), David will be present at the official presentation of next year's edition, to take place on November 28.
Where, as the article states, he'll "begin to resolve the uncertainties concerning 2013".
After missing the end of the season due to injury, Nalbandian is recovering his top form, focusing on the 2013 season, which will see him on the courts again.
In other words - it's official. As official as it can be at this point.
David is going to play another season.
And we'll get to hear more about it from himself, two weeks from now (at the latest).
So there's still some more waiting ahead. But the worst of all uncertainties has been resolved.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cano: David Will Go On Playing

(Inés Gorrochategui Academy/archive)
It's been a long time - not only since David's last match but also since he talked to the media and so far, there's still no official statement from him, regarding his plans for the coming season. This lack of official news leads to the kind of situation where different people write different and often enough conflicting things about David's plans.
It's a scenario that we've had many times before and I've learned to be careful. But I've also learned to trust some journalists more than others, simply because over the years, they've proved to be reliable sources.
One of them is Quique Cano, an Argentine tennis journalist, who posted a series of tweets about David today that put together read as follows:
I'll take this opportunity to clarify a couple of things about Nalbandian. There was a rumour that David was going to have surgery on his left hip, which would've meant David's farewell. Nalbi has no such plans, at least not until his retirement. This week, he begins with the preparations for his return. Unless there's an injury, he's planning to play the Copa Argentina, a possible exhibition in Córdoba, the Australian Open and the Davis Cup.
(Sources: 1, 2 & 3)
I'd still prefer to hear the part about the Australian Open and the Davis Cup, i.e. playing another season, from David himself but coming from Cano, I'll take it as a very good sign that we'll get to see David play another year. Apart from Cano, there's also Guillermo Salatino, who says that the Australian Open 2013 will see David's return to the Tour.
Still, those tweets also raise a couple of questions. I didn't know that there were rumours about another hip surgery. Or that David might still have to have one, after retiring. And to be honest, I don't know what to make of this without knowing more. I also can't tell you anything about the additional exhibition he mentions, except we'll have to wait and see if it happens.
But another season, that sounds great - and now increasingly likely.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Month until the Copa Argentina

(event website)

There's a wide variety of websites that I use for Vamos David, sites for the current rankings (David is now at #78), for match records and statistics, for interviews and photos, or for weather updates. And I guess those are the kinds of websites most bloggers rely on.
But there's another website that I find myself using again and again, though I wish I didn't have to. That site is for calculating periods of time - usually the the amount of time that has passed since David's last match. In this case, it's now been 76 days, a good two and a half months, since his last official match of the season at Winston-Salem.
But at least it doesn't take a calculator to know how much longer we'll have to wait. A month from now to the day, the 10th anniversary edition of the Copa Argentina will kick off at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis club, home also of the Copa Claro.
For David, it's going to be the ninth time of taking part in this event, having won it on altogether four occasions. I'll be taking a look back at his Copa Argentina history ahead of this year's edition. And there's still enough time until then. In the meantime, if he wants a shot at doing well, David should start training again soon. I'll do my best to you keep you posted. Also, of course, regarding any other news.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Waiting Game (continued): Paris Memories

Another week without any news from David. And another tournament that takes place without him. A situation that's not exactly new, as it happened way too often during the last couple of years. But while it's never great when David can't play there are certain occasions when it's even more frustrating than usual. And this week has to count as one of those - as the tournament that's taking place without him is the Paris Masters.
David has played this event only five times in his career. And three out of those five times he didn't make it past the second round. That this is so very easy to forget has a lot to do of course with his other two appearances.

(Getty Images)
In 2008, David came to Paris-Bercy as the defending champion, at the end of a pretty successful indoor swing. He had won the title at Stockholm and reached the final at Basel (with an early exit at Madrid in-between). At Paris, he didn't catch the best of starts against Nicolas Kiefer but then went on to make short work of Delpo in the next round. Their third meeting in as many weeks only lasted about an hour and the first thing David did afterwards was to ask Delpo if he was okay (that was before Mar del Plata). The first real test David faced in the quarterfinal against Andy Murray and it turned out to be the best match he played that week (highlights here). The semifinal match against Nikolay Davydenko proved to be much more of a challenge. After dominating the first set David seemingly lost the plot and barely managed to win the match in three sets. Back then, nobody knew about his hip injury. Or that he almost withdrew before the final. Looking back at it now, it was a great account that David gave of himself, under the circumstances. Even though he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, continuing the tradition that no Paris champion has defended his title since the 70s .

(Getty Images)
In 2007, David came to Paris-Bercy at the end of a horrible season but also after his surprise run at the Madrid Masters (and the first-round exit at Basel against Stanislas Wawrinka that followed). And it would turn out to be a week to remember. A week that David began with a straightforward win over Nicolas Almagro, followed by an equally uncomplicated victory over Carlos Moya. In the third round, however, David found himself up against the number one player in the world, Roger Federer
- again. Less than two weeks had passed since they met in the final at Madrid and just about everybody thought that Federer would take revenge. In the end, it was a little bit closer than it would've needed to be. But it was David, who prevailed again and this time, he did so in straights. The only set he dropped during that week he dropped in the quarterfinal, where it was time for another Battle of the Davids. After splitting the first two tiebreak sets it was "our" David, and not David Ferrer, who held up better and won. The semifinal, however, was anything but a battle. It took David little more than an hour to beat Richard Gasquet in what can only be described as a true masterclass (highlights here). The final was another repeat of a match that had taken place at Madrid, two weeks before: David against Rafa Nadal. It was a relatively even match - until 4-4. From then on, Nadal didn't get another game (highlights here; all highlights by Andvari). Those were the days at Paris-Bercy...

Last but not least, and as a cure for withdrawal symptoms, here's a look back at what's still my favourite out of all the great matches that David has played at Paris:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

David to Play the Copa Argentina


This year marks the 10th anniversary edition of the Copa Argentina Peugeot de Tenis, also simply known as Copa Argentina. For the first time in the history of the event, it'll be held in cooperation with the AAT. And it was the Argentine federation that published the good news yesterday, spread by Fue Buena (thanks, Guille and Noha) and other journalists:
David is listed as one of the six players, who will take part in this year's Copa Argentina (December 6-9). So he's obviously planning to play the exhibition event at the BALTC again this year, just like he has done every year since 2004.

What this means in the grander scheme of things, I can't really say. As different interpretations would be possible. But for now, I'll take it as a sign that he's making progress with his recovery and that he wants to go back to playing matches. And that's great news.