Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Davis Cup Update - Team Nominations

Ahead of his debut as Argentina's Davis Cup captain, Martin Jaite hasn't made a secret of his line-up for the first tie. And there really was no need to - after Juan Martin Del Potro's decision to not play, the Argentine team for Bamberg was pretty clear, anyway. So already before the start of the Australian Open, Jaite officially announced his team: David Nalbandian, Juan Monaco, Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank.

Today, Germany's captain Patrick Kühnen followed suit - but his nominations include a surprise. Apart from Florian Mayer, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Philipp Petzschner, Kühnen has also nominated Tommy Haas. It's the first time since 2007 that Haas will be part of Germany's Davis Cup team. Kühnen on his surprise choice:
Tommy is fit and has shown himself to be in great form in Melbourne. His potential is beyond question and apart from that he brings a tremendous amount of experience to the table.
While Kühnen is aware that Argentina is the favourite to win this tie, he intends to make the most of the home advantage and the "enthusiastic crowd" at the Stechert Arena in Bamberg, including the fan club of the local first-league basketball team (which has been supplied with free tickets in return for its support). Still, they'll be up against the equally enthusiastic and very vocal Argentine fans. But Kühnen remains optimistic:
In Davis Cup, we've proven again and again that we can be competitive, playing against the top nations. So why not against Argentina?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Destination Bamberg & A Question

Update (30/01)
The rankings after the Australian Open are out and
David has moved up one spot to #86.

Today, the tennis world may still revolve around Melbourne and the impending final of the Australian Open. But for David, it will soon revolve around the picturesque little town pictured here - Bamberg.
Probably next Friday,  the Argentine team will be on its way to Germany for the first round of the Davis Cup.
For David, it's going to be the first tie under the captain he wanted for this job for years, his former coach
Martin Jaite. Who, despite his experience as player, coach and tournament director is new to this job and also to this kind of scenario, unlike his players:
It's not the players who are making their debut here, it's the captains [Jaite and his vice-captain Zabaleta]. (Source.)
In the same interview Jaite also said that although he's of course aware of the pressure it means to play for Argentina, he still wants the Davis Cup to be fun for the players. Something they really want to do and enjoy doing. Well, I guess he can count on David for that...

On the German side, Florian Mayer has started training again (after his injury problems that forced him to pull out of the Australian Open) and therefore it looks like he's going to play, with Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Philipp Petzschner and Christopher Kas for the doubles completing the German line-up.

From the Davis Cup now over to something completely different. As you've probably seen, Megaupload, the site we used to upload matches for David on Screen has been shut down. And I'm afraid, this also means the end of David on Screen (more about it on the David on Screen page). The question now is whether it should be replaced with something else, a different kind of extra page. I'm currently thinking about this but I'd like to hear your ideas.
So - what do you think? What kind of page would you like to have?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Brief Update


After the Isner match and the two incidents (and the headlines those made in the press) things have been very quiet on the David-front for a couple of days. And while so far there's no news about the ITF fine and the appeal I can at least tell you that by now, David is back home and that he has taken up practicing on clay at the Ines Gorrochategui Acedemy in Villa Allende. In this case (the photo is apparently from today) with junior player Federico Nani.
Edit: A very brief clip of that training session you can watch here.

In other words, the preparations for the Davis Cup first-round tie against Germany have begun.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Water-Throwing Incident, The Auspicious Lack of Other News, David's Knee and an Interview

We all wanted David to make headlines at the Australian Open. But this is not necessarily what we had in mind. After the challenge incident during the match there is now also the "water-throwing incident" that took place afterwards.
And the $8000 fine David got from the ITF, a decision he intends to appeal. But what happened?

After the Isner match and the press conference, David had to undergo a routine doping test. That's as far as the undisputed facts go. Of what followed there are two slightly different versions. One on the Facebook and another one on the Twitter of David's official site (where the news agencies and sites seem to have taken their info from). According to which David's side of it is that either before or at some point during the doping control he was washing his hands when either an "ATP official" (should be ITF) or the "physician in charge" suddenly and inexplicably accused David of having thrown water at or poured water over him. An allegation that he "categorically" and "emphatically" denies, calling the fine "absolutely unfair" and adding that "by imposing this fine the ITF would be committing two acts of injustice, one on court and the other off of it, within one hour". As mentioned above David is ging to appeal the ITF's decision.

Still, with all this drama going on it's easy to overlook what's positive. - The complete lack of any news from the injury/physical problems department, in spite of the long and gruelling match against Isner. According to Fue Buena, for the first time after three years and despite the problems with his knee (which I'll get to in a second), David was able to do a proper pre-season training. Allowing him to begin this new season much better prepared physically than in previous years. And the first signs of it could be seen during the Isner match.

As for David's knee troubles, those have by now been identified as the Osgood-Schlatter syndrome (also according to Fue Buena). An irritation of the patellar tendon that typically afflicts male teenagers but can continue into adulthood. And if you look at the example photo on the Wikipedia entry for it, then that's exactly what David's knee looks like. The good news: It's nothing serious, the condition is manageable.


Last but not least, here's the interview (published at the beginning of this week by La Nacion) I didn't have the opportunity to post yet. It starts with David's answer to the question how and where he spent the holidays:
I was at home during the holidays, I was in Córdoba. We travel too much during the year for me to go somewhere during the off-season. Quiet, at home, I didn't go anywhere. I have everything I need there. I enjoy getting to spend time with my girlfriend, with my friends. I stay at home.
In this particular case, New Year's Day also meant celebrating his 30th birthday. In tennis terms, he's officially an "old man" now...
David: Turning 30 is fine, just another year, nothing special, nothing unusual. I'm looking forward to facing this season. I know these are the last years I have left [on the Tour]. I'll try to make the most out of them and enjoy it.

Q: Is it difficult to enjoy yourself while you're still on the Tour?

David: This kind of career goes by very quickly. It's a maelstrom without any pauses, day after a day you live it to the max. Is this the eleventh year I'm on the Tour? [It's the twelfth.] And then, when you look back at it you see that many years went by and many things happened. Great moments to remember and enjoy.

Q: And you don't really get to realise that?

David: Most of the time, everything happens fast. You don't have time to enjoy it, to stop and think. During those last couple of years you have to be more relaxed. So I want to enjoy myself.

Q: Do you think about getting married and having children?

David: I don't think about that. I'm relaxed, we're doing fine and I still think that the life of a tennis player is very tough. You're never at home, it's complicated. But I still think like a tennis player. The idea of starting a family is there in my head, to finally slow down, calm down a little after this life that is madness. But it's the game we play.

Q: And when you'll leave, are you going to miss this world?

David: It depends, doesn't it. Maybe I'll find things in life to replace them with. Those are different stages. I'm still going to make the most of those last years as a tennis player and then I'll see about the next couple of years. Enjoying other things.

Q: Two more years?

David: I don't know, depends. The most important thing is to have continuity, without injuries. If I don't get injured and I feel good then I'm going to play for as long as possible, without setting a limit, a date.

Q: If the season ended today, what would you want to have achieved the most?

David: To finish it healthy because the rest will take care of itself. With continuity the rest will take care of itself.
Right now, it looks like there's a chance of more continuity this season.
And that's the good news from the Australian Open.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Challenge Incident

It was a great match, despite the "wrong" ending. But in the end, it won't be remembered for its many great rallies or for how well David played for the most part of it. It'll be remembered for that one incident, that moment at 8-8 in the fifth set when a serve from John Isner was correctly called out (as proved later on video), chair umpire Kader Nouni overruled the call and then refused David a chance to challenge his incorrect overrule on the grounds that the challenge had come too late.
Q.  What do you make of the umpire's decision in that 8All point? 

DAVID NALBANDIAN:  I asked for HawkEye and he make an overrule.  Because the lineman call out.  He overrule it.  Was a lot of noises, so I asked what happened, because the lineman called out. He told me he overruled it. And I say, Okay, I see the mark. I say challenge. Not a big deal. He don't want to do it.
That decision stood and could also not be overturned by supervisor Andreas Egli, although David said that he didn't hear the overrule because of the general level of noise from the crowd.
Q.  And a lot of crowd noise, as well.

DAVID NALBANDIAN:  I mean, what the umpires need, press? Name? Be on the picture tomorrow? Incredible.  
Anyway, I didn't lose for that, but that's was very bad situation. Was amazing.
The complete transcript of David's post-match press conference you can read here.

And Krystle's report of the match you'll find here.

By now, I've uploaded the many photos from the match. You'll find them on the Photo Page.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Australian Open R2 - David loses to Isner

(Mark Radswell/Getty Images)
He was the better player in this match and he won more points in total. But in the end, it was Isner's serve that made the difference. After four hours and 41 minutes (and 43 aces, most of which came in the last two sets), John Isner prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(5), 10-8.

So again, the Australian Open end for David in the second round. What can be taken from this match is that he played some great tennis. And that he was (hopefully) able to finish the match without physical problems.
Next up for David is now the Davis Cup first-round tie against Germany (February 10-12).

That's it from me for the moment. Photos as soon as I've set up my new computer...

(Getty Images; montage by VD)

3.23pm local - David's match is now next up on Margaret Court Arena.

David likes to play late. And David also likes to play against opponents who give him a certain rhythm. On Monday, with his first-round match against Nieminen, he got both. This time, he'll get to play on the same court again but in the afternoon, in the heat. And rhythm surely isn't what he's going to get from his opponent, 16th seed John Isner.

It's the third time they meet and David won both of their previous encounters - though in very different ways. At Cincy 2010, he had a lot of problems with Isner's serve but then profited from the American's early retirement. At Auckland last year, however, David was able to handle the serve and could outplay him during the rallies.
Isner has played two matches this year. One at Sydey last week, where he lost to Bobby Reynolds in the second round (after a bye in the first). And the other one in the first round at Melbourne Park where he beat Australian wildcard Benjamin Mitchell (#222) in straights.

In this match, a lot is going to depend on the serve. On how well David will be able to return and force Isner into longer rallies, but also on David's ability to hold his own serve. Especially in the important moments. He will try to entangle Isner in as many rallies as possible, he'll try to move him around. And during the rallies he'll always have a good chance. Still, a lot will depend on the serve...

Note: Due to computer problems there will be no recording and no report of this match. Also because Krystle, who would otherwise cover for me, is in Melbourne at the moment. She'll watch and probably report this match, so I recommend taking a look at her blog.

Monday, January 16, 2012

AO R1: Half a Good Start

(Highlights by Noubar, thanks.)

The contrast could've hardly been any bigger: Last year, David's first-round match against Lleyton Hewitt took almost five hours. This time, it took little more than just one. David was leading 6-4 and 4-2 in the second set when Jarkko Nieminen had to retire with an abdominal strain. So after a total of only 16 games played, David advanced to the second round where he'll face 16th seed John Isner on Wednesday. It's going to be their third meeting with David having won the previous two.

Often enough, or rather - far too often, going into a match there's a question mark concerning David's fitness. In this case, however, the question was how fit Nieminen would be after having played a lot of tennis last week (from qualies to winning the title at Sydney only yesterday plus also reaching the doubles final). At the beginning of the match he seemed to be handling the situation well and it looked like this would be an interesting match. And it was - but only for one set.

(Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images)
As mentioned before, matches between these two usually involve many long and hard-fought rallies,
with Nieminen's defense forcing David to set up and execute his attacks well - otherwise they might get countered or he might end up getting passed at the net. This happened a couple of times during the first set, with David looking a bit rusty initially and lacking match practice in what was his first match of the season. But he soon found his rhythm and was able to play aggressively and with more depth and great angles, and without making too many unforced errors. At 3-3 David had his first break point and managed to convert it promptly before eventually serving out the first set to love.

At the start of the second set David broke serve
again and now looked to be in control of proceedings. But it turned out to be only the first in a series of altogether five breaks in a row. And while Nieminen was now visibly struggling on serve, due to his injury (he called the trainer after the third game), David also managed to lose his serve twice, after not facing a single break point in the first set. Up 3-2, after saving another break point and with a bit of luck, David finally held serve again. Before at break point for David in the following game, Jarkko Nieminen walked up to the net to shake hands and retire from the match.

All in all a good start, despite those two bad service games in the second set. David seemed to be moving well (I've learned to be careful with writing things like that...) and he played a pretty clean match, with 18 winners, 19 unforced errors and no double faults. What's also important is of course that he didn't have to spend too much energy during those one and a half sets. Still, on Wednesday losing his serve like that will be much more costly...
P.S. Krystle was there at the match. Her report you'll find here.
Edit: And what I almost forgot - the post-Auckland rankings came out today. David has dropped down 23 positions and is now ranked #87.

(John Donegan/AP Photo)

Australian Open R1 - David vs Jarkko Nieminen

(Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images)
It's the result we were hoping for but this is certainly not the way it should've happened: At 6-4, 4-2 for David, Jarkko Nieminen was forced to retire with an abdominal strain after visibly struggling on serve and having called the trainer early on in the second set. A very unfortunate ending for what was a nice match in the first set.
In the second round on Wednesday David will now face 16th seed John Isner.

Edit: Recording and photos available now.
More soon...

(Getty Images; montage by VD)

7.47pm local - David's match is up next on Margaret Court Arena.
6.40pm local - One more (WTA) match to go.
It's all taking a little longer at Margaret Court Arena today so the match will be delayed.

Today the 2012 season finally starts for David. But while for him this is going to be the first official match of the year, for his opponent Jarkko Nieminen it's already number eight - and that's only counting his singles matches. Having begun the season at Brisbane, Nieminen comes to Melbourne, fresh from having won the title at Sydney yesterday. But how fresh, really - that's going to be the question.

Apropos Sydney final - that was where David and Nieminen last met, back in 2009. The latest chapter so far in the long history that these two have together, having known each other since junior days. Out of their altogether eleven matches on the Tour, David won seven (and four out of the last five), including both of the two finals they were in together, Sydney 2009 and Estoril 2002, David's first ATP title.

But even though in recent years, David has done quite well against Nieminen, matches between these two tend to be tight affairs, with lots of long and hard-fought rallies. Watching this clip by Krystle (of the dramatic second-set tiebreak at Sydney 2009) will give you a good idea of what those rallies look like. And though Nieminen may not have a huge weapon and David usually deals with his lefty serve pretty well, the Finn's defense and smart way of placing of the ball, as well as his fighting spirit can mean trouble for David. Apart from that, Nieminen will be confident after having just won a title. But perhaps also a little tired.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Schedule of Play Update


The schedule of play for Monday is out, with David as part of the line-up for the first day of the Australian Open. But although I was expecting his match against Jarkko Nieminen to take place on one of the show courts, I wasn't necessarily expecting this: David gets to play his first match at Margaret Court Arena (pictured above), the third biggest court at Melbourne Park. In the night session, at 7pm local (8am GMT/3am EST/5am Argentina).
So a show court with coverage for us, a late start (as in playing in the evening) for David, which he will like, and an early start (as in playing on the first day) for Nieminen after Sydney. A nice schedule, indeed.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Australian Open Draw

(John Donegan/AP Photo)

It was a very nice match and a good test run for the Australian Open, even if in the end it was Andy Murray, who prevailed 6-3, 7-6(8).
Edit: Recording now available via David on Screen. Photos on the Photo Page.

Good news: David's exhibition match against Andy Murray will be streamed, after all.
Due to a rain delay the match will start later than expected.

David has been drawn into the bottom half and there into the lower, i.e. Nadal's quarter. As usual, one is tempted to say... Anyway, that quarter looks like this:

[7] Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs Albert Ramos (ESP)
Olivier Rochus (BEL) vs [Q] Björn Phau (GER)
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) vs [Q] Iliya Marchenko (UKR)
[Q] Frederik Nielsen (DEN) vs [30] Kevin Anderson (RSA)
[21] Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) vs Benoit Paire (FRA)
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) vs Benjamin Becker (GER)
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) vs Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
Lukas Kubot (POL) vs [10] Nicolas Almagro (ESP)

[16] John Isner (USA) vs [WC] Benjamin Mitchell (AUS)
Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) vs David Nalbandian (ARG)
Flavio Cipolla (ITA) vs Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)
Leonardo Mayer (ARG) vs [18] Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
[28] Ivan Ljubicic (CRO) vs [Q] Lukas Lacko (SVK)
[Q] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) vs Donald Young (USA)
Tommy Haas (GER) vs [Q] Denis Kudla (USA)
[Q] Alex Kuznetsov (USA) vs [2] Rafael Nadal (ESP)

Complete draw here.

In the first round, in his first official match this year, David will be up against someone he has known for a long time - Finnish lefty Jarkko Nieminen. This match is going to be their altogether twelfth encounter since 2002, with the overall match record at 7-4 in David's favour. And it's the second time that they're going to meet at the Australian Open. The first one took place in 2006 and back then David beat Nieminen in the third round. As his preparation for the Australian Open, Nieminen chose to play both Brisbane (where he lost in the second round to Stepanek) and Sydney this week, where he has by now reached the final. A good showing from Nieminen but perhaps one that will leave him a bit tired.
If David makes it past Nieminen in the second round he's bound to meet 16th seed John Isner. David's record against Isner is spotless, they've played twice and both times he won. With a bit of luck at Cincy 2010 (where Isner had to retire in the first set) but then rather convincingly at Auckland, last year.
In a hypothetical third round, and going by the seeding, David could then face 18th seed Feliciano Lopez. Who David has also met twice before and defeated both times, only that those two matches took place at Montréal 2003 and Basel 2006. In other words - a long time ago.
In any case, it's not until the fourth round that David can meet one of the top players - his training partner Rafael Nadal.

Interlude: Training with Rafa


(Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Ahead of his exhibition match against Andy Murray at Kooyong tomorrow, David put in a training session of a different kind today, practising with Rafael Nadal at what seems to have been Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park.
Perhaps you'll remember how the two of them caused some bewilderment among the press by training together ahead of the US Open last year, even though they were bound to meet in the third round - and did, eventually. But as David once described it, they've "become well acquainted" and I guess it's safe to say that they know each other and each other's game well enough.
Apart from that, the photos from this training session (more on the Photo Page) offer the first visual proof that David has indeed switched his clothes sponsor and is now wearing Topper. ->

Coming up tonight/tomorrow morning (Melbourne time): the Australian Open draw.

The starting time for David's match against Andy Murray has changed.
It's now scheduled as the second match of the day (after Fish vs Melzer), due to begin at around 12.30pm Friday local time (1.30am GMT; Thursday 8.30pm EST/10.30pm Argentina)

On a different note - Martin Jaite and Mariano Zabaleta just confirmed the team for the Davis Cup tie against Germany: David, Juan Monaco, Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank (source).

Monday, January 9, 2012

What's Ahead

A little later than planned, here's my preview. About what's ahead for David (and for us):

(Getty Images)
Australian Open draw
The draw ceremony for the first Slam of the season will take place on Friday, at 10am local time (that's Thursday, 11pm GMT/6pm EST/8pm Argentina). Usually, it's possible to listen to the ceremony live on AO Radio, via the tournament website.
And in Melbourne they're normally pretty quick when it comes to posting the draw online.
For David, the draw (and hopefully a bit of luck with it) will be crucial. As he won't be seeded, anything is possible for him, from the first round on. From a match against a qualifier or wildcard to facing Novak Djokovic or any other of the top players. Here's hoping that David will get lucky with the draw, this time.

Also on Friday, David will play his exhibition match against Andy Murray at Kooyong, scheduled to begin at 4.30pm local (5.30am GMT/12.30am EST/2.30am Argentina).
While going to Kooyong for one specific match is new for David, taking part in the event used to be his standard way of beginning the season. From 2004 to 2007 David played the event every year (2008 he was forced to withdraw at the last minute). Making this his altogether fifth appearance at Kooyong Stadium in Melbourne, formerly the venue of the Australian Open (until 1988). For the main event, there's usually a stream. However, extra matches, like David's against Murray, were not streamed in the past. Whether that's going to be different this time - we'll find out.

For the moment, i.e. this week, David's ranking remains to be #64. Next Monday however, David will drop his points for making the final at Auckland last year and that will see him lose some ground in the rankings. The good news in this context being that he won't have a lot of points to defend at the Australian Open and also not in the weeks to come. Still, trying to get up his ranking again will be an important goal during the coming weeks and months. And it's probably one of the reasons behind David's fairly ambitious schedule.

A new kind of schedule & tournament
Directly after the Davis Cup first-round tie against Germany it'll be time for a premiere - something new and unprecendented, in a variety of ways. For the first time in his career, David is planning to play an ATP tournament directly after Davis Cup. An event he has never played before and which has been moved to a new location this year - Sao Paolo (formerly known as Costa do Sauipe). But what really makes the Brasil Open 2012 unusual are the conditions in which the tournament will be played. On clay - but indoors. In Davis Cup, this kind of scenario is not unheard of (see Bamberg). But playing an ATP event indoors on clay
- that's going to be a first for David.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The (Davis Cup Drama) Season Begins...

Initially, my plan was to write a brief preview today, about the first weeks and months of David's season. But then something got in the way and made me change my plans - the first round of Davis Cup drama in this still very young year...

Yesterday, the news came that Juan Martin Del Potro won't be part of the line-up for Argentina's first-round tie against Germany in Bamberg (February 10-12). A decision that, according to his coach Franco Davin, was made because of Delpo's packed schedule, the surface change (from hardcourt to clay and then back again) and not wanting to take any risks, concerning his physical fitness (source).

As such, this is not an unusual step for Delpo to take. After all, he has played in the first round only once and that was back in 2007. Still, many believe that the implications are different this time, because of the new situation on the team - with a captain who used to be David's coach. At his official introduction, Argentina's new captain Martin Jaite tried to dispel speculations about him, being biased by calling Delpo the "trump card" of the team. An offer of peace but by stressing his importance for the team, Jaite also stressed the necessity for Delpo to play. And that call was echoed by David, who told the media that Argentina should travel to Germany with the best team it can muster.

Now we know that this won't be the case. But whereas previous withdrawals were met with some criticism, this one has caused quite a stir in Argentina, with heated debates on the social networks and hundreds of comments on the news sites. Still, probably the most unusual part of it all took place on the Facebook page of David's official site, where last night the following message appeared:
The major objective for 2012 remains to be the same: winning the Davis Cup for Argentina. Whether at home or away, with or without injuries. Prioritising the Davis Cup over the Tour. Giving your life for the Argentine colours, as always.
Ten minutes later, it was replaced by a shortened, less controversial (because of its timing) version, with only the first sentence of the original remaining. By now, also the shortened version has disappeared. David's spokesman Bernardo Ballero explains:
After I saw it I talked to David and he denied having made that statement. He respects Del Potro's decision and doesn't have anything to say about it. That message was posted by the people who run his Facebook account but it's clear that it shows a lack of judgement because it doesn't reflect the thoughts of Nalbandian. (Source.)
Whether that's really all there is to it, well, some commentators are not entirely convinced. But as you'll know I always try to make it clear that David doesn't post what's on his official site and its extensions, himself. He never does. Those sites are run by others, for him. And apparently, those people decided to post what has been described as a "devastating attack" on Delpo. (Speaking of which, I'm not going to have any of those here on VD.)

In any case, this means that unless something unforeseen happens, the Argentine line-up for Bamberg will consist of David, Juan Monaco, Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank. And while there's now a bit of panic among the Argentine press and some writers already see the World Group play-offs beckoning, Germany's captain Patrick Kühnen remains wary:
If Del Potro isn't going to be there then it means that Argentina will be weakened. But they still have an enormously strong team with Top30 players Juan Monaco and Juan Ignacio Chela as well as the experienced David Nalbandian. (Source.)
Right now, the experienced David Nalbandian is in Buenos Aires for the final stages of his preparations. A brief clip of him, practicing you can watch here. And on Monday, he'll be on his way to Australia (source).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

David: Two Years Left of Playing at a Good Level

Last year, I said I was hoping that David might play the Kooyong exhibition as preparation for the Australian Open. And now he will play there, even if it's only for one match. On Friday, January 13, David will play an exhibition match against Andy Murray, as confirmed on the event's Twitter.

While for most players the 2012 season has already begun at one of the preparatory events for the Australian Open, David is still at home - but in the middle of his preparations for the new season. Training at home in Unquillo as well as at the Ines Gorrochategui Academy in Villa Allende. A preseason the final stage of which, i.e. playing tennis, had to be delayed, due to the tendinitis in his right knee (which first appeared during the Copa Argentina in mid-December).
But despite this delay, which makes the late start this year seem like a good idea, and although his knee apparently still "bothers him a little" David seems optimistic about the new season that's ahead of him. And also about the one after that.
Here's the interview, by Sergio Stuart for Olé.

Q: You're busy?

David: Yes, busy with my preseason, trying to make sure things will go well, this year.

Q: At which stage are you now? Physical training, tennis?

David: Noooo, I'm doing everything. These are the toughest weeks of the preseason. Where you do a little bit of everything. I've already established a good physical basis and now I'm adding tennis to the mix, which I had to start with later than planned because of the tendinitis in the knee.

Q: You got injured during the Copa Argentina in December. How are you doing now?

David: I'm fine, though my knee still bothers me a little but at least it allows me to do a relatively normal training.

Q: How do you see 2011 in terms of your tennis? You had to pause twice, because of an adductor tear in March and then because of your hamstring in October...

David: It was pretty inconsistent, with another surgery [hernia/adductor in March] that didn't allow me to play a complete schedule. I haven't done an analysis of it but I've had two difficult years with my hip and then another one last year because of the adductor and the hernia. I hope that in 2012 I can have the consistency I wasn't able to get during the last two years.

Q: As you say, after undergoing hip surgery in 2009 you weren't able to play normal seasons. In 2010 you played 39 matches and in 2011 no more than 34 when it's normal to contest more than 60. Does it look like this year might be a good one for you?

David: I hope so. That's the idea but you never know. You try to work so that things will go well and then... sometimes they don't. But yes, the idea is to try and have a good year, one with more consistency at least. That's the most important and difficult thing on the Tour.

Q: You won your last title at Washington, in August 2010. Do you miss the feeling of winning titles?

David: Yes, it's a great feeling. And as I've said before, you work for being able to experience those moments, to achieve those things. I want to be among the best again, I want to be competitive at tournaments. With consistency, it's all going to come together by itself. I'll say it again, I'm working so that things will go well and I can achieve those goals, to win tournaments and compete at the top.

Q: You're making jokes about being old, the way you also did in Sevilla during the Davis Cup. You turned pro back in 2000 and now you're 30 years old. How many seasons do you think you have left?

David: And... two years left of playing at a good level, of playing well. More than that seems difficult to me.

Q: You've won the Masters Cup but you're lacking a Slam and the Davis Cup title. Are those the objectives for those two years?

David: The Davis Cup has always been my goal and we still haven't managed to win it.

Q: And a Slam?

David: A Slam gets more difficult each time. Physically, it gets harder for me every year and the physical strain and the level are extremely high.

Q: Does it get more difficult on the Tour now with Djokovic and Nadal competing for the #1?

David: Yes, it gets more difficult each time, it gets tougher. But not only because of them. There are many other new players, young players, other generations coming up.
Does that mean David will play two more seasons? Well, I think that will also depend on how many matches he'll get to play this year, how much consistency there will be in the end.
But it's good to hear that another season is possible.
Still, at now 30 years of age, there's a certain genre of questions that David will be confronted with a lot from now on - about his career in general and the way he sees it. Here's his answer at this point in time:
It's difficult to draw a balance at this point because while you're still active you don't have enough time to analyse what you've done in your career. But I've spent many years on the Tour and I had more good years than not so good years. So that's why I think I've had a pretty decent career at least.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy Birthday David & Happy New Year!

Those of you who've been around for a while know how it works - every year on January 1st Vamos David gets a new look. And this is it, Vamos David 2012. Hope you'll like it. :)

So - feliz cumpleaños, David. Welcome to 'Club 30'. And whether this is going to be the last season or not, here's hoping that it'll be a good one. With less injuries and more matches.

For David, the new season will begin at the Australian Open in two weeks' time (his full schedule for the first three months you can view on the Schedule Page). And as far as I've heard, his knee is okay. What I've also heard is that it looks like David will switch his clothes sponsor - from Yonex to Argentine company Topper (though he'll continue to use Yonex racquets). So it'll be a new year and a new look.

And another season with the King of Drama...

(José Gabriel Hernández/La Voz)