What was planned as David's first match at Belgrade ended up not taking place. David and Edu Schwank withdrew from their doubles match today, granting their opponents Kerr and Sela a walkover. So far, I've only seen the result (after some searching) and it's a little difficult to find out what's going on in Belgrade. But in any case, David's singles match against Aljaz Bedene (who beat Martin Klizan today) is scheduled to take place tomorrow.
And welcome to the European clay-court swing, which will keep David and us here on VD busy for the next few weeks. Today, Belgrade officially begins with the first matches of the main draw. But for David, still ranked #49 this week, it's going to be another day of training on the practice courts at the Novak Tennis Center. Ahead of his first-round doubles match (Edit: which will indeed take place tomorrow) and his first singles match in the second round.
Edit: Which is scheduled for Wednesday, 8pm local time.
In the meantime, here's something we haven't had in a while - an interview with David. The first one he has agreed to since the Davis Cup quarterfinal. And not surprisingly perhaps, it wasn't one of the big newspapers or sites that he chose for it. Instead, David talked to Verónica Casasola for El Tribuno, a local newspaper from the Salta province (where he's been on holiday before). Here's the interview, it took place shortly before he left for Belgrade:
Q: 2012 is a year of many challenges. Which one of them is key for David Nalbandian?
David: It's true, there are plenty of challenges. But this year, the fundamental goal for me is to win the Davis Cup. There's a chance to play the Olympics but the Davis Cup remains to be my great obsession.
Q: Were you expecting to get a wildcard for the Madrid Masters? It's a very important tournament and one that you've won before. How do you feel, compared to 2007?
David: It's always very nice to receive a wildcard and even more so for a tournament as important as Madrid, an event that I've won. Compared to 2007, first of all and most importantly, the surface has changed. When I won it in 2007, it was on hardcourt and indoors, now it's on clay. As for myself, I'm five years older now and I've also had several surgeries.
Q: What does it mean to you that Argentina has reached another Davis Cup semifinal?
David: That much is certain, it's very important for the Argentine team to have come through as it allows us to be at the decisive stage, once again. For me, it's very motivating to be in another Davis Cup semifinal. As I've said, the Davis Cup remains to be my obsession.
Q: What are your thoughts regarding the next opponent, Czech Republic?
David: Czech Republic has a great team that just eliminated the 2010 champion [Serbia], with two very tough players in Berdych and Stepanek. Berdych has been in inside the Top10 for several years now and he's able to do well on all surfaces. Stepanek is a very experienced player and together, they form a very good doubles team. A tough opponent and one to be wary of, no doubt about that.
Q: You know Martin Jaite well, what do you think he brings to the Argentine team as its captain?
David: I think that Martin is a person who brings a lot to the team because of his experience on the circuit. He does as a [former] player but also as someone who has organised tournaments [like the Copa Claro].
Q: How would you define the presence of Juan Martin Del Potro on the team?
David: It's very important that Argentina can count on having a player like Juan Martin on its team. He's a great player who, at the moment, is ranked among the best in the world and that's very valuable.
Q: How is your relationship with him?
David: My relationship with Juan Martin is very good.
Q: How did the differences between the two of you start and what caused them?
David: I think that what's important today is that apart from playing individually on the circuit, we form a team and that we both do our best for Argentina to win the Davis Cup.
Q: Do you dream about London 2012? Representing Argentina at the biggest of all sporting events, what would that mean to you?
David: Yeah, of course. I'd be very happy to qualify. I still have a little time left and if I continue on the circuit without injuries then I can hope to represent our country at the London Olympics.
Q: In order to make it to the Olympics it'll be important for you to play Roland Garros and put in a very good performance there. Does that put you under pressure?
David: I hope to be playing Roland Garros and I don't think that everything depends on my performance there. I'm going to play two or three very important tournaments ahead of it, where I can also gain many ranking points. Especially since last year, I didn't play this [clay-court] swing.
Q: For more than ten years now you've been the Argentine point of reference in tennis. Do you think that it's because of the way you are, or why do you think that's the case?
David: I think that most of all, people see me in connection with the Davis Cup and they recognise the efforts I've made for many years, trying to win it.
Q: So there's still going to be a lot of David on court?
David: I'd say it's still David Nalbandian on court but each time a little less...
Q: We've seen you in Salta a couple of times, do you come here often?
David: To be honest, I haven't been to Salta that often as the circuit takes up a lot of my time. The last time I went, I went fishing with a group of friends and we had a really spectacular time. Salta is a very beautiful part of the country and I hope to visit it again soon, whether playing tennis or simply as a tourist.
Q: How would you define the player and the man David Nalbandian?
David: I'm the same person. A simple type of guy, from a small village, who likes to be surrounded by family and friends.
Q: Are there any dreams left for you to fulfill?
David: Winning the Davis Cup. That's my dream.