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).


  1. Such a shame. As unpopular as my opinion will be, delPo should not be made to cave to pressure from outsiders if that coincides with his own personal interests. That said, let's cease and desist from any negative comments made about him. Thanks.

  2. or should I say "conflicts with?" Sorry...I type too fast sometimes. And some of the folks on the networks are unknowingly contributing to the chaos.

  3. Not a respectful desicion from Del Potro, the problem about hard court - clay - hardcourt is also for his teammates but they still play.

  4. 2012 begins already with a drama lol. I hope so much that David doesn't have to play in early rounds in AO against a top 20 guy.

  5. As far as I know, David, Pico, Chela and Schwank will all continue to play on clay after the tie (Golden Swing).

    Well, new year or not, new captain or not - some things never change...

  6. As a card-carrying Del Potro fan, I naturally see the decision from his point of view. Essentially, the tennis season is just too full, and it's worse for leading players and those who have to travel a lot. Did you know that in 2011 Del Potro spent 350 hours on aircraft? That's one hour for every day of the year! The Davis Cup sucks up big gobs of time, what with the team practice weeks beforehand; and with his tall frame and power game, Del Potro has to be particularly careful to avoid injury. The German team captain probably had all this in mind when he chose clay.

    It would be disingenuous for any of the other Argentine team members to criticize Delpo for his decision, as he is the only one of them who is anywhere near the top ten - indeed, people like Sampras, Federer, and Kuerten have tipped him as a possible future world Number One. But time ticks on: he is now 23 and probably has only another 4 or 5 years at the top before injuries start to take their toll.

    My inevitable starting point for evaluating the tie against Germany must be the teams' meeting in the Powerhorse event last May, when Germany unexpectedly won the final after Argentina had wiped the floor with Sweden, Kazakhstan, and the USA in the preliminary rounds. But that result was largely attributable to the doubles loss, where Chela and Maxi Gonzalez were far from Argentina's top pairing. (That, and Monaco's strange collapse against Florian Mayer). Nalbandian and Schwank look like a much stronger doubles pair. As for the singles, who should be chosen out of Chela, Monaco, and Nalbandian? (Berlocq is nearly, but not quite, good enough to be considered).

  7. Well, time ticks on - but even more so for David. And I must confess that I'm less concerned with the time Delpo spent travelling last year than I am with David's travels (and matches) that didn't come to pass because he was out, injured. And who knows, this could be his last chance of winning DC.

    That said, what he does and where he plays is Delpo's choice of course. And as I've said, this really didn't come as a surprise.

  8. We seem to be in agreement about the facts, Julia. I didn't want to put it quite so bluntly, but Del Potro is the only Argentine player who can aspire to the highest prizes of the individual game. So it's understandable if he isn't quite so enthusiastic about team events as those who cannot.

    I don't know what David's attitude to the Davis Cup was back when he was a credible candidate to win a slam. But I suspect his priorities may have been a little different, at least.

  9. Nope, it's been the same level of craziness from the start.
    As far as I know, he only time he asked to be excused (and didn't miss the tie due to injury) was back in the first round 2007, after the lost final of Moscow, 2006.

  10. That particular tie, first round 2007, was the one time Delpo played in the first round, by the way. His DC debut.

    Anyway, what strikes me about this whole episode is that it's further proof of how unprofessionally David's official site, FB & Twitter are run by whoever is in charge of them.

  11. I guess its up to David to carry the load against Germany,but Delpo if he thinks hes big enough to skip the early rounds has to be ready to pick up his game in the finals and carry the team to the title.Im not that disappointed about his decision if he can bring the goods in the later stages but if he cant I find it disrespectful to the team and public.So we shall see what happens.

  12. I'm not surprised by DelPo's decision not to play 1st round. Individual results first, it's his choice... too bad for the team though.

    yes Julia, it's scary how the official David sources are run... He should update himself his twitter account from his Blackberry like many other players on the Tour! It would add some fun :)

  13. Yeah, the Twitter account is a special case... I knew from the start that those were not real tweets by David because I recognised them as direct quotes from press releases and interviews I translated for VD.
    I mean, David has always made a point of not liking the media (and often enough not cooperating with them). Twitter etc could be a way of making his own news. But apparently, he can't be bothered.