Monday, March 12, 2012

"A Little Strange Match" - David Muddles Through against Cilic

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

It was a little strange match.
That's David's very own assessment of his 7-6(3), 7-6(4) victory over Marin Cilic. A match that saw only few good rallies but lots of unforced errors, shaky serving, re-breaks and missed opportunities. Still, at least in the two tiebreaks David was once more able to take it up a notch. And although he really wasn't playing his best, he managed to get the win in the end, and that's definitely not a given with David, on days like the one he had yesterday.
In the third round against tenth seed Janko Tipsarevic tomorrow, however, a tougher test is going to await him.

(Enrique Carrión)
After saving two break points in the first game of the match David broke Cilic in the second and then consolidated his break for a 3-0 lead. At this stage he looked to be in control of proceedings. At 4-1, David had altogether five break points (including three in a row at 0-40) but he missed the chance to go up a double break. At least he kept his focus afterwards and held serve and at 5-3, David served for the set. From 30-0 onwards, a series of unforced errors by David allowed Cilic back into the game and granted him break points. On the second, David considered challenging the serve-call then changed his mind - and made the double fault. Back on serve now, David had a first set point on Cilic's serve at 6-5 but squandered it with an error. But the tiebreak that followed saw David confirming again that tiebreaks are his specialty these days: From 3-3 on he won four points in a row to take the first set 7-6(3).

Often enough there are early breaks after tiebreaks. But in this case it wasn't until 3-3 that David managed to break serve again - but only to hand the break straight back with what was once more a series of unforced errors (4-4). Cilic's service game at 5-5 then saw a lengthy deuce battle with several break points for David the fourth of which he was finally able to convert for a chance to serve for the match at 6-5. And David had a match point in the following game but Cilic saved it with courageous play and then once again broke back to force another tiebreak. At 5-4, up a mini-break, David set up his second match point with an ace before a last backhand error from Cilic ended the match, 7-6(4).

We both play a match with a lot of mistakes. It wasn't really good one. But happy to win, to keep going and I know I have to improve my game to get better or longer [go deeper] in this tournament.
(Quotes from David's post-match video interview, you'll find it here.) 
18 winners, 36 unforced errors for David and 22/44 for Cilic. Numbers that say a lot about this match and also about how difficult David found it to try and take control of the rallies, the way he did against Cilic in the past. And successful strategies from their previous matches, like keeping Cilic on the backhand and then going quickly to his forehand often enough didn't work - because another unforced error got in the way. Apart from that David did seem a bit sluggish, defending well when he had to but often not moving well to hit his groundstrokes.
In short, it was a rather bad day that David had but he still found a way of winning this not exactly pretty and "little strange" match.

(Enrique Carrión)


  1. even though Cilic made lots of UEs as well, partly allowing David to close it out in straight sets eventually, I'm relieved by the fact that David can still win a match without being on top of his game everytime.
    Playing Tipsarevic will be another story...

  2. Off-topic question to Julia: When did you start your addiction on Nalby? Even during the days when he was a junior?

    I noticed him in 2002-2006 (not a fan officially yet), because he always reached SF/QF in slams and had close matches with Federer. I noticed him more in 2007 when I watched his indoor matches (he played like a contender for World #1 spot in his match against Federer + Nadal...), then I officially became his fan and was expecting him to win his first Slam in 2008, but too bad he started to fade away, and only became a 'part-time' tennis player...This is very sad. It destroys his momentum and mental toughness.

    And have your ever thought about what will happen to this blog when Nalby retires? I hope you will continue this blog, because he might play in the Champions Tour?

    Realistically, it is difficult for him to win a Slam (he needs to beat Nadal/Federer quickly in straight sets. It seems to be a wildest dream to come true!) Only if all top4 players have a bad tournament and crash out early, then Nalby would have a chance (just to make the QF!).

    But I do hope he will use 2012 as a 'start' to get used to being a full-time tennis player again. It would be great if he ends the year in the #11-#16 range, so that he will have a better seeding next year (if he continues). I dont want to see him playing small tournaments and only set small goals like Ferrero and Haas at the moment.

    By the way, when was the last time he beat someone who was in top10 at the time of the match? Dont tell me it was way back in 2009! But he was close in February (beating World #13 Simon).

    1. If David retires from the big tour he surely won't play any more besides maybe some exhibitions a year.

    2. During David's early years I didn't follow tennis. I took a longer break after Boris Becker retired, my (and David's) childhood idol. 2003 I watched a bit of the USO and saw David play for the first time. But it wasn't until 2005 that I took up watching tennis again. I looked for that blond Argentine I remembered from the USO - and here we are now.

      I think that many people, myself included, had high expectations back in 2008, after the way he played at Madrid/Paris 2007. But what many people didn't know back then was that he played the AO with back problems and then at IW the trouble with his hip began... Considering the physical state he was in, he did surprisingly well back in 2008.

      Of course I have thought about what's going to happen with VD when David retires. To be honest, I very much doubt that he'll play on the Champions Tour. I think it's more likely that he'll pursue his other interests. I'll keep up VD for a while after he retires and I'll look back at his career. But VD is a chapter that will get closed at some point.

      In any case, the one big goal David will continue to set for himself remains to be winning DC. And the last time he beat someone inside the Top10 was at Toronto 2010, Söderling, #5 at the time.

  3. Ahh nice one people.. I like to know how everyone became a fan and stuff it's nice.. It's good talking to you lot as well coz not many other people understand about nalby when I talk about him coz not many people I know even support him except my fellow armenians but not as near enough as us they probs just watch grandslams. I hate the fact that people just watch grandslams and think that's all that is important.. even the 250's are good if u proper support someone. I reckon Nalby can beat Tipsaravic if he ups his game VD!!

  4. None of my real-life friends has anything to do with tennis. They all think I'm crazy, anyway. But by now, they've grown used to VD and they even ask me, "how is David doing?". :)

  5. :) same here, most of my real-life friends don't follow tennis at all, they don't even know who David is. (they only know the big names like Federer, Nadal who are served up on mainstream media and I totally understand that.
    But I have a very few friends who are real tennis addicts, we just don't support the same players and that's all good :)

    apart from that, I noticed David for the 1st time during the 2002 Wimbledon final, 10 years ago, I was still a teenager and very casual tennis person, only watching big finals. I heard people talking about the pre-final, and not giving David a single chance, it made me think : who's this young man, I'll try to remember him for next time...
    But I really became a fan during US Open 2003 and his unfortunate loss in semi-final vs Roddick... a late night match I remember I was still on vacation. The fact that he lost that 5-setter drama made me want to hope lots of things about his career, knowing that he had the potential to win multiple slams...

  6. I just loved the way he played and I loved watching him play. I still do. :)

    By the way, David trained with Richard Gasquet today. Photos from that training session on the Photo Page.

  7. are we sure that david hasn't the virus(that could have troubled him yesterday) circulating in indian wells?

  8. He seems to have trained normally today (see pics mentioned above) so I think he's fine.

  9. Agree with the posts above, i like many other fans had very high hopes for the 2008 season. even after the TMC 2005 and a great start to 2006 I was sure he'd win a slam. I can't believe it's 2012 and Nalbandian has never won a slam, truly dissapointing. I really hope he wins the DC this year, it would make up for some of the misfortune and underachievement of his career.

    if only he'd won that semi USO 03, if only.

    1. Well, I don't believe in looking back at the past and thinking about what could've or should've been. For me, the hip injury changed everything. Back when he had surgery, his career and consequently also the existence of this blog were at stake. And David never playing another match was a very real possibility...
      Since then, I've been happy about each and every match that he got and still gets to play. And personally, I don't care that he never won a Slam. I like watching him play and I'm glad that I still can.

    2. Perhaps you should be optimistic and realize something like 'I can't believe it's 2012 and Nalbandian is STILL playing!'

      P.S. I wonder if Nalby realizes this blog?

    3. I think you've misunderstood my previous comment. That's exactly what I was saying - I am very happy that he is still playing, after all he's been through.

      And no, I don't think that David knows or reads VD.


  11. thanks Noubar :)

    David playing 4th match is terrible for our sleeping health :D
    But I guess they consider this David/Tipsarevic match as an interesting showdown -it really is- hence the "late" schedule.