Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Close but no Cigar - David Loses to Haas (again)

The match today was close, I had a match point, I could've won. Those are the kind of tough matches where one point more means you win and one less that you lose.
Whether or not David's defeat was a foregone conclusion after Haas saved that match point, it was a close and hard-fought match, a battle that lasted 3 hours and 22 minutes (tying the record for the longest three-set match this year, outside of the Olympics). And in the end, both kept up their own streaks. With his 6-7(0), 7-6(4), 6-3 victory, Haas extends his record against David to 5-0. Whereas David's losing streak continues. It's the first time since 2002 that he has lost four consecutive first-round matches. But unlike last week, he talked to Jorge Viale for after the match.
At this level, every match is tough, I'm not saying anything new here. When I was further up in the rankings, I also had first-round matches where I suffered, matches you could lose. I don't see that as something serious, except that losing in the first round means you don't get the chance to find your rhythm and get confidence.
In an attempt to get another chance ahead of the US Open, David has asked for a wildcard at Winston-Salem, the 250 event in North Carolina that takes place next week. Whether he'll get the one wildcard that's left remains to be seen.

(Nick Laham/Getty Images)
It wasn't the best of starts that David caught in this match, getting broken, from 40-0 up, in his first service game (for 2-0) and then almost going down a double break. But he managed to take it up a notch just in time for the decisive part of the first set. From 5-2 to 5-4, Haas had altogether 6 set points, 4 of which came on his own serve (at 5-3) but David managed to save all 6 of them before levelling the score at 5-5. In the eventual tiebreak, his missed chances seemed to catch up with Haas as he didn't get a single point and David took the first set 7-6(0).

At the start of the second set, the tables seemed to have turned. David held serve to love, and then managed to break Haas for a 2-0 lead, with the German now visibly (and audibly) frustrated. But then came the game that would change the course of the match yet again. In David's words:
I was leading by a set and a break, I had lots of chances to hold serve and he played some good points. At 2-0, I made an error, the other times he played well. It's a shame because I was a little bit better and he was getting annoyed.
That error was the double fault he lost his serve on (after 5 game points). Back on serve now, the second set turned into a battle that would eventually last 86 minutes, with various break points on both sides but no further breaks. The most important one was of course the match point David had at 6-5 but that Haas saved with a good serve. In the tiebreak, they remained on serve until at 4-3, David made two unforced errors in a row on his own serve, and Haas eventually closed it out with an ace, 7-6(4).

(tournament website/FB)
In the third set, David tried to keep the points short by coming to the net whenever possible. After he saved an early break point (at 1-0) there were a couple of easy holds on both sides. Until David's strength and with it his aggressive strategy began to fade. At 4-3, after once more having had game points, David got broken again, and Haas served out the match without difficulties, finishing it with the last of his 21 aces.

The good things that can be taken from this match is that this time, it was close and that David played better than he did in the three previous matches, able to control more of the rallies and to construct points (50 winners, 36 unforced errors). He also held up better, physically than he did at Toronto, even if it wasn't enough in the end.
The problems on the other hand were obvious as well. Especially in the second set, his often way too harmless serve cost David a lot of points, as well as his early break. He also didn't return very well, then again he has always struggled against Haas in that department. Converting only 2 of 13 break points didn't help either, though at the same time, he saved 11 of the 14 break points that Haas had. - In the end, as is so often the case, it came down to a few moments, a few important points. Not just the match point but also dropping his serve at 2-0 in the second, or those errors he made in the second-set tiebreak. Those situations that would be a lot easier to get through with more confidence and match practice.

And then there was that little incident in the third set. At 3-3, 30-0, Haas served an ace that David wanted to challenge (in a timely manner, by his standards) but umpire Gerry Armstrong refused to let him, on the grounds that it was too late, while Haas said he'd be fine with a challenge. After that, David turned to talk to someone in the stands. That someone was Tom Barnes, the ATP supervisor, who was also in charge at the Queen's Club final. David asked him how quickly he needed to challenge, "a second, two, three, five? You tell me, Tom!" Here's what he said about it after the match:
Why is it so hard for the umpire to say challenge and then we'll see if it's good or out? The technology helps but the umpires make big mistakes with their judgement. Very big ones.
I'm not comparing this to what happened in Australia. That was an important point, today it was irrelevant. But it's something that goes beyond whether [that ball] was good or out.
It was only a very little incident this time but I think it fits with what I've called the "increasingly uphill battle" that David is fighting. Not just against his opponents but also against other factors, like umpires and the rulebook. He really needs to win again...
Here's hoping he'll get the wildcard for Winston-Salem.

(tournament website/FB)


  1. David wants to play winston- salem !?!? :')
    Only if he wants to play .. they'll give a wild card !

  2. I hope he'll come in Rafa's Quarter in US Open! And probably in the 1st round!
    since it will be Rafa's 1st match after loss to Lucas Rosol, considering the fact Rafa will get better only after match practice ... David could beat Rafa in the 1st round. so that means until QF David won't play against top players! :D

  3. David has asked for a WC, we'll see if he gets the one that's still left. And Rafa has pulled out of the USO, as I've just seen.

  4. hope David will get a wildcard, he definitely needs more matches...
    thanks for the report Julia and the video :) so again another incident linked to the time he takes to challenge a call. Glad it was a minor incident though. I wonder what Tom Barnes replied to David when he asked him the question about the challenge...

    poor Rafa...

  5. Yeah, not looking good for Rafa at the moment.

    Barnes said after the match that he couldn't really understand what David said as he was too far away. So it was either that or he was being diplomatic about the whole thing.
    I mean, we all know that David often takes ages to decide whether or not he wants to challenge (including, usually, an extensive consultation with the umpire about the mark). But in this case, he didn't even take that long to make up his mind.

  6. and Haas being okay with the challenge, the umpire should've let him challenge, it's not like it was break point or something critical.
    whether he'll get the wildcard or not, it's a good thing that David asked for it, it means that he's not just "waiting" for this season to end quickly but he still wants to play matches as long as he's healthy. The motivation is still there, he "just" needs a couple of wins... and have a serve he can rely on during an entire match and important points..

  7. look at how del potro is not even sweating against haas
    its just show you that nalbandian is completely given the match to haas
    and the thing is that del potro is not even impresses me

  8. What it shows you is that David and Delpo are two different players.

  9. i dont think del potro is that great actually
    he has a better serve than david but groundstrokes wise david is better
    del potro is not doing poor errors and not double faulting all the time

  10. Whether or not you think he's that great, it's no coincidence that he's in the Top10.
    And by the way, Haas had almost twice as many DFs as David yesterday, and a dozen more UEs.

  11. Glad to know that David sees the loss as the difference between a point or two. I remember yesterday when they flashed the stats after the match how even they were. David played well. The 50:36 ratio for winners to unforced errors is really quite good. But Haas is performing like a Top 10 right now. Tipsy already is. Part of this is the damn luck of the draw. Hope David gets the wild card and can regain his confidence at Winston-Salem

  12. And it's also a good sign, I think, that he talked about his thoughts after the match and didn't keep up his silence.
    No news from Winston-Salem so far.

  13. thats a good sign! I hope he can play there and win at least to matches No further expectation !

  14. Gael Monfils has withdrawn from winston-salem 2 hours ago! so David has more chance??

  15. Yeah, so it would seem but they just announced that Ryan Harrison will get a WC. So there's still just one left.

  16. If David personally wants to play winston-salem for match practise, if he doesn't gets a wildcard, why can't he play qualies?? Qualies starts on saturday and ends on sunday. this means he have to win just 2 matches to enter the main draw. Anyway on those two days, he'll be practising if he gets a wild card.
    . so if he plays qualies against low ranked opponents, that's almost equal to practising. may be 20mins each set for winning.

  17. Players only play qualies if they're on the entry list for a tournament but their ranking is too low to get into the main draw directly. The entry list closed six weeks ago. David's name is not on it. So his only chance to play Winston-Salem is getting a WC.

  18. What a catastrophic year for David...

    It's almost a joke here (and not a good one) with his close losses to isner murray volandri nadal seppi, and I don’t know, whoever the f**k else...Where it could've gone his way but didn't.

    That's sad, and now there’s worse: I was impressed by the way he plays lately because he gives the impression to have forgotten what tennis is about, well impressed is not the right word, shocked would more appropriate.
    I mean for instance his backhand (which he considers to be the best on tour LOL) is just rubbish these days, he never goes down the line, always making safe slow weak crosscourt shots with it and even with those safe shots he still finds a way to put balls out very often for no reasons, he completely lost his confidence and it seems irreversible.

    And don't get me started on his serve ewwww

    1. David has always been one for throwing in a shocker now and then, even back in the glory days. But his last four matches I wouldn't count among them. Take for example last year, and his losses at Washington (to Blake, R1), Montréal (to Wawrinka, R1) and Cincy (to Murray, R2). Back then, he played and served so much worse than he does now. And for my part, I prefer it if he loses a close match, rather than getting crushed by his opponent.
      I also don't think that his backhand is rubbish these days or that he doesn't go down the line anymore. But you have to be in the right position, on court and in the rally, to be able to hit a backhand winner. I don't know if he still considers his backhand the best but if he didn't then you'd probably blame him for not believing in himself anymore. Seems difficult to do the right thing in this regard.
      It's a bad streak he's on right now. And though I think he had different hopes for this season, I certainly wouldn't call it catastrophic.

  19. Fabian you're right. Nalbandian hasn't been the same since his injury post 2008. Maybe if he dedicated more time and tried harder like Haas, we would be seeing different results.

    Unfortunately these days it seems David plays part time tennis. I still remember the days when there was hope he'd win a slam.

    I mean look at Federer, he just won Wimbledon and David used to own him early in their careers.

    At this stage I guess we are satisfied with just watching him play for the remaining time - but some of those matches he played in pre 08 were unforgettable.

    1. Well, Haas spent several years, hardly playing any matches (or not playing at all). And this kind of patience we won't get to see from David, that's true. But David isn't playing less tournaments this season than he did in the past, on the contrary. And that he has asked for WC now shows that it's not exactly a part-time approach he's going for.
      David winning a Slam, I mean, that was over the day he had hip surgery. But even playing with the injury in 2008/9, as well as after surgery I'd say he has played many unforgettable matches, including Washington 2010 and his eleven-match winning streak, the battle epic against Hewitt at the AO last year and his victories in Davis Cup (e.g. QF 2010 and SF 2011).
      And honestly, which player can compare himself to Roger Federer? For me, it's one of David's claims to fame that he has defeated him 8 times.

  20. Any news for winston salem? Really wanna see him play some matches before us open. He needs it more than anything atm

    1. No news yet. But today (Friday) is draw day, so today we'll find out.

  21. Just saw that according to Fue Buena, David will get the WC. Post coming up.