Usually, there's a fierce rivalry between Argentina and Brazil (especially when it comes to football). But last night, playing his first match in Brazil in more than a decade and eventually beating Benoit Paire after an hour and 39 minutes of ups and downs and many missed chances, the one thing David could rely on throughout was the São Paulo crowd, which was firmly on his side.
I was very nice to have the support of the crowd. I felt at home. I started playing very well but then I made things difficult for myself.
It's the first time in his career that David is playing a tournament directly after a Davis Cup weekend and one that, as he admitted, left him exhausted. Still, David was off to a bright start in this match. Attacking Paire's second serve, David broke in the very first game and then, after a shaky hold for 3-1, managed to go up a double break and 5-1. Paire, now serving to stay in the set, went down 0-40. At that moment, winning this set seemed merely a formality. But it was also at that very moment that David's game fell apart. Seven wasted set points, two re-breaks and a set point for Paire that David saved later, the first set went to a tiebreak. And after racing to a 6-1 lead, David eventually converted his altogether tenth set point to take the first set 7-6(3).
At the start of the second set, David dropped his serve again, this time on a double fault (his reaction here). And at 3-1 for Paire, he found himself on the verge of going down a double break. But once again, things took a different turn:
In the second set I was down 1-3 and 0-40. I think that was the key moment, when I managed to turn around that situation and was then able to go on and win the match. (Source.)
if from one moment to the next he realised that
by all rights he should be tired. But although he looked flat and tired during the following games and then again in the early stages of the second set, and although Paire did his best to make him run by constantly playing drop-shots - David
fought on. Knowing, it seemed, that if he found a way of getting through those rough patches, he'd still win this match. And that's what he did.
It may not have been a great match and squandering that many chances is something, even by David's lofty standards. But the good
thing that can be taken from this match is the
fight that David put up and the way he managed
to turn things around again in both sets.
How much this has cost him physically - tonight's match against Gilles Simon will give the answer.