Wednesday, June 27, 2012

David & Vamos David Take a Break

(Denise Yoko Berndt)
So Wimbledon is over for David and it's still four weeks until he'll return to SW19 for the London Olympics, to take part in the singles competition but also to play doubles together with Edu Schwank, as we know now (thanks, Mira). - Time for a break.

While David will be heading home, or has probably already arrived there, I'm heading away from home. In other words, I'm going on holiday.
So there'll be no posts and no news, at least not from me, for a week now.

But before I leave - the photos that Denise (thank you!) took at Boodles and Wimbledon you'll now find on the Photo Page.

Well, see you all again next week. :)

Julia

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Goodbye Wimbledon... David Loses to Tipsarevic

You have to play better in the important moments. I didn't. He did. He won.
That's David's brief but very much to the point analysis of his first-round match at Wimbledon yesterday that ended with his opponent, eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic, prevailing 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-2. In tennis, often enough a few points, a few important moments determine the course and the outcome of a match. And even more so on grass. But whereas during almost all of those important moments Tipsarevic managed to raise his game, David failed to make the most of those chances that he had and despite playing a good match he ended up paying the price.
I had many opportunities but I couldn't get the break. He got the upper hand quickly during the sets, I was always trailing. But it was a tough match, one where anything could've happened.
(Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
What happened in the first set was that David lost his serve to give Tipsarevic a 3-2 lead. A break that he had his chances to recover, in the following game as well as at 4-3. But David couldn't find a way of converting any of his five break points in this set and consequently, Tipsarevic took the first 6-4.
The second set began with David dropping his serve again in the first game. After that, a battle ensued with long and tightly contested service games on both sides. At 3-2 and then again at 4-3, David had further chances to break but it wasn't until 5-4, with Tipsarevic serving for the set, that David finally managed to get the re-break and draw level at 5-5. In the eventual tiebreak, he lost two points in a row on serve to go down 3-6, saved a first set point but then couldn't keep Tipsarevic from taking the second set 7-6(4).
At the start of the third set they stayed on serve until at 3-2 for Tipsarevic, David saved five break points (including three in a row, having been down 0-40) before Tipsarevic took the sixth he got in the course of this game to go up 4-2. With a final break against David, as he served to stay in the match, sealing Tipsarevic's victory, 6-2.
I don't think that I played badly today, I've been improving little by little during these last couple of weeks. I had a very good week at the Queen's [Club] tournament and today, in some moments during the match, I played very good tennis. It was a good match.

(Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
The Wimbledon website agrees: A 28-shot rally that David finished with a fine drop-shot winner was chosen as the "Play Of The Day". And there were plenty of great points that David played in this match, especially during the hard-fought second set. Whether from the baseline, constantly changing the pace and the direction of the ball, playing slice and drop-shots, or occasionally coming to the net. And it was a clean match from David, with 33 winners and 23 unforced errors.
But the problem, apart from Tipsarevic playing and most of all serving extremely well when it mattered, was once again David's serve. Or rather that unlike Tipsarevic, when it really mattered David often enough had to rely on his second serve and got punished for it, with deep returns from Tipsarevic drawing costly errors from David. The prime example of it was the second-set tiebreak, during which David failed to make a single first serve.
Another problem was that during the second set (which lasted 75 minutes), David apparently spent most of the energy and the strength that he had, trying to recover the break. Already by the time they reached the tiebreak there didn't seem to be too much left of either. And when he went down two sets to love it was pretty much clear that he wouldn't be able to recover from that. Still, all in all it was a good match from David. Just not good enough to beat Tipsarevic yesterday.

Apart from that, yesterday's match was David's first official match after the Queen's Club final.
It was a tough week for me, difficult and very sad. During those days I received support from people and it could be seen at the stadium today. It was nice that they treated me kindly. Apart from that, many players have told me that the punishment was excessive.
I think that I've paid the price. People have understood that the mistake I made was not intentional and it was comforting to be greeted with applause. And on my way out they treated me the same way again.
What happened to me at Queen's can happen to everyone. I know I did something bad but it was unintentional and I'm glad that people understand that.
The crowd at Wimbledon's Court 1 definitely seemed to understand. For it was not just a polite but a very warm welcome that he received from the people in the stands. And I don't think I'll ever forget the moment when after David had started the match with an ace the crowd erupted in a big cheer.
Still, even with the worst of the drama now definitely behind David (and behind us), the fact remains that this has now been the second time in a row that David went out in the first round at a Slam. Even though after yesterday's match, he offered an explanation for his defeat at Roland Garros that's complete news to me:
(Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images)
I won't be losing any sleep over these losses because those are completely different tournaments. In Paris I had food poisoning, I had a fever, I was feeling terrible. And here, not being seeded, I knew that something like that could happen to me in the first round. Tipsarevic is a great player.
As I've said, the part about Paris is news to me, I can't recall him having said anything to that extent before. But whether affected by physical problems of a different kind or having to face a Top10 player in the first round, these can't be the results David will have been hoping for. Especially knowing that he might not have another chance to do better at Roland Garros and Wimbledon than he has done now. I've said it before, I think that the US hardcourt events and the indoor swing will be crucial for David's decision about whether to retire or play another year that he's going to take at the end of the season.
It gets tough now to fight against the players at the top of the rankings. That's normal. Young players appear on the scene and we still like to think that we're the greats but we no longer are. You have to come to terms with that, just like other players had to when we first appeared on the scene.
So, what are David's plans now?
Keep on training, get some rest and try to be at my best for the Olympics.
(quotes via ESPN, Olé and Eurosport)
(Neil Tingle/AELTC)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wimbledon R1 - David vs Janko Tipsarevic

(Tim Hales/AP Photo)

Update
It was not at all a bad match that David played today but Janko Tipsarevic was simply too good and too solid, especially in the important moments of the match. And so in the end, it was the eighth seed from Serbia who prevailed 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-2 after two hours and 27 minutes, sealing the second first-round exit at Wimbledon in David's career.

The next event for David will now be the London Olympics, also at Wimbledon, a month from now. I assume that he'll be heading home now to take a break until then.

Edit: Photos are up now on the Photo Page.
Post coming tomorrow.




(Getty Images/AP Photo; montage by VD)











Ten years ago, David (ranked #40 as of this week) was a young and still pretty much unknown player when he stunned the tennis world by making it to the final at his first ever Championships. This year, it's the eighth time of playing Wimbledon for David (having missed it in 2004 and 2009/10) and today, it starts with a match that's going to get a lot of attention
- as it's of course David's first official match since the Queen's Club final. And because of all the attention, the organisers have decided to schedule this match on Court 1. So David gets to "kick off" (as all the British newspapers describe it) proceedings on the second biggest court at Wimbledon today, with his match against the eighth seed of the tournament.

Janko Tipsarevic, 28 years old and ranked #8, has posted consistently good results this year, mostly on hardcourt but also on clay. Apart from winning the World Team Cup with Serbia, he has a final (at Chennai), two semifinals and and three quarterfinals to his name.
On grass, Tipsarevic played at the Queen's Club, where he lost in the third round to Yen-Hsun Lu. After that, just like David, he played at match a Boodles, defeating Andy Murray.
At Wimbledon, Tipsarevic's best result so far has been reaching the fourth round (in 2007/8). The last two years he went out in the first round, losing to Arnaud Clement in 2010 and having had to retire against Ivo Karlovic, last year. However, that he's able to do well on grass, Tipsarevic showed when he reached the final of Eastbourne, last year.

This will be the fourth meeting between David and Janko Tipsarevic, with the match record standing at 2-1 in David's favour, and the first match between these two that won't take place on hardcourt. At the Australian Open 2007, David saved two match points in the third set before Tipsarevic retired in the fifth. This year, David prevailed at Indian Wells, while Tipsarevic managed to turn the tables at Miami.
It's going to be a tough match for David today, also because he and his behaviour on court will be under public scrutiny, and one that might very well go the distance. But hopefully David can find a way of continuing the form he has been displaying on grass.

P.S. At least, David will be able to play this match, knowing that there'll be no further sanctions from the ATP (thanks, Anonymous).

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wimbledon Draw

What's going to await David at Wimbledon this year, in terms of the reactions from the crowd, well, that remains to be seen. But what's going to await him in terms of the draw was decided during today's draw ceremony.
And here's what came out of it for David. He has been drawn into the top half, bottom (i.e. Federer's) quarter, of which this is the lower half:

[11] John Isner (USA) vs Alejandro Falla (COL)
Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) vs Nicolas Mahut (FRA)
Igor Andreev (RUS) vs [WC] Oliver Golding (GBR)
Denis Istomin (UZB) vs [23] Andreas Seppi (ITA)

[26] Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) vs Donald Young (USA)
[Q] Inigo Cervantes (ESP) vs Flavio Cipolla (ITA)
[Q] Ryan Sweeting (USA) vs Potito Starace (ITA)
David Nalbandian (ARG) vs [8] Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)

A look at the complete draw you can take here.

Against his opponent in the first round, Janko Tipsarevic, David has already played twice this year. At Indian Wells, David defeated him in three sets but then lost to him in straights at Miami. Perhaps needless to say, they have never met on grass. A difficult first round for David, though it has to be said that it could've been worse.

Update
David won't be playing at Boodles today.
Edit: And apparently also not on Saturday.

(Fernando Vergara)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back to Boodles

(Phil Cole/Getty Images)

















UpdateII
It was a nice match that saw a couple of great rallies as well as some laughter and a bit of banter between the two buddies. And in the end, David beat Nicolas Almagro 3-6, 6-3, 10-4. But most of all it was a warm and friendly reception that David got at Stoke Park, just like always, and for him, this match will have been a very welcome moment of normality after the last few days. I for one thought that his relief after the match was palpable.
Edit: Apparently, David will play another match on Friday.

(Istabraq)

Edit: Plenty of photos that Istabraq (thank you!) took during the match and before it as well as a handful of agency photos (for David's match was also covered by Getty Images and I think we all know why) you can now view on the Photo Page.

In the meantime, it has been officially confirmed that David will be playing Wimbledon. The draw, and perhaps another match for David at Boodles, coming tomorrow.




(event website)

Update
5.38pm local: The second match of the day has finished. Next up now: David.

Today is the day of David's first public appearance after the Queen's Club final. And perhaps, there couldn't be any better occasion for it than The Boodles Challenge. The exhibition event at Stoke Park that he has played every year since 2003, unless injury prevented it.
So Boodles is a tradition with David. But David also is a tradition with Boodles, having played the event more often than any other player, and he's "firmly regarded as a favourite of the event", according to the Boodles website. Or at least he was, when they wrote that, last year.

The Boodles Challenge comprises a three-round 'tournament' as well as a couple of additional matches. In the past, David always played the tournament (last year, after beating Troicki and Gasquet, he lost the final against David Ferrer). That he wouldn't do so this year has already been known for a while, as his name wasn't on the player list. But it still seemed likely that he'd play one of the additional matches - and that's exactly what's going to happen today, with David playing against Nicolas Almagro.

There is a stream for Boodles, this time even directly on the event's website.
Edit: And today, unlike yesterday, it actually works. - At least some of the time.
Istabraq and Denise will be at Stoke Park today. And hopefully they'll be able to tell us more about how David is doing now and how he's being received by the crowd, also outside of the match, itself.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Queen's Club Final - An Epilogue



It was the moment that transformed yesterday's Queen's Club final from a normal tennis match, one that David a good chance to win, into a scandal, making headlines around the world. An hour and 23 minutes into the match, having failed to make a return and therefore having just dropped his serve again, David vented his frustration by kicking the closest available object, a board. Something that he tends to do on court, whether it's water coolers, displays or ad banners. In this particular case however, a linesman was sitting directly behind that board and received a cut on the shin as David's kick sent it flying. There was blood. And the ATP rulebook is clear on what happens if a player injures an official, his opponent, or a member of the crowd, whether intentionally, or not. In the words of chair umpire Fergus Murphy: "Ladies and gentlemen, code violation - unsportsmanlike conduct, default Mr. Nalbandian".

(Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
An unfortunate incident but although David clearly didn't mean to harm the linesman, what he did was thoughtless, to say the least. And that one moment of madness didn't just cost him the chance to win the title. Defaulted from the match, a decision he accepted without appeal, David also loses the prize money he earned last week, as well as the ranking points he would've gained (so he remains at #39 this week). There might also be a fine of up to €10.000. And as David was already fined $8000 at the Australian Open this year, this could result in a suspension. However, ATP supervisor Tom Barnes said they didn't want the consequences for David to go beyond the tournament itself.

UpdateII: David has received the maximum fine of €10.000. But though the result could've been a suspension, the ATP "insist that Nalbandian will not be suspended for the incident" (source).

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
After a rather befuddled Marin Cilic had been handed the trophy, David was given the opportunity to address the crowd during a brief interview on court. In it, he said he was "sorry to do that" and agreed that it had been a mistake. And perhaps, that's my opinion at least, he should've left it at that. But David went on to add that everybody makes mistakes and most of all the ATP, forcing him to play in bad conditions. A video of the interview you can watch here.


UpdateIII
According to some new articles, the ATP will now conduct a separate review of events, including David's verbal attacks on the ATP. Which could result in further fines and him, getting suspended, after all, though this seems unlikely (source).

(Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
It was a difficult week for David at the Queen's Club, with the rain delays, the schedule changes and playing two matches in one day. At the same time, it was very important for him to do well again after his first-round exit at Roland Garros. He fought very hard to get to this final and therefore, it's understandable that it must've been really tough for him to see all of his hard work going up in flames, because of one rash moment.
I guess that this also was what led him to lash out at the ATP.
Afterwards, David faced the press. Here are a few quotes:
I know that I made a mistake, 100 percent, and I apologize. I feel very sorry to the guy. I didn't want to do that.
But sometimes you get angry and can't control yourself in moments like that. These moments happen many times, well to me anyway.
Maybe you throw a racquet or maybe you scream or maybe you do something like that.
When I hit the board, I didn't want to do it that bad. But that's the way it is. Sometime you cannot control that few seconds.
Maybe the punishment is fair. If I have to pay like that, I agree.
I was very angry in that moment. Sometimes its almost like you don't see anything. I just hit the fence and I don't know how to explain that.
I saw that it was bad. I didn't full realise what happened until I saw him and that's why I stayed there and I was asking him if he was okay.
He told me he was ok but he had got a cut. So we got a doctor. I just asked about him again and someone told me that he's okay. But I didn't have time to check it by myself.
But he also renewed his attacks on the ATP.
Everybody makes mistakes, right? When somebody else does a mistake, they have to pay in the same way, but the players don't feel that happens much, especially with ATP.
In the beginning of the year you have to sign that you agree with everything that the ATP says. And sometimes you don't. And if you don't want to sign, you cannot play ATP tournaments.
Sometimes the ATP put a lot of pressure on the players, and sometimes you get injured because you play on dangerous surface and nothing happens.
We have to keep rolling all time. There is nothing pay for that.
I don't know if I will get in trouble. I don't really mind. This is what I thought and what many players think.
(Source.)
Later, the following official statement was released for the press and via the official site and its extensions:
Concerning the disqualification that David Nalbandian suffered during the final of the tournament at the Queen's Club, the Argentine tennis player says that he's "saddened by and sorry about the kick that unintentionally hurt the linesman".

"I never intended to hurt him, it was an unfortunate reaction to the loss of a point," David said.

"I had the opportunity to apologise to the linesman personally for this unfortunate incident for which I take complete responsibility," Nalbandian also said.

David would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the crowd that attended the final, to the tournament director and to his thousands of fans and followers in Argentina and around the world.
So from now on, David will be "the guy, who kicked a linesman", an anecdote that commentators and journalists will love to mention in connection with his matches.
Especially, if he kicks something again...

Update
And as if it all wasn't bad enough already (thanks, Mira for the link):
Police are investigating a complaint of alleged assault against David Nalbandian, who was disqualified from the Aegon Championships final after a line judge was injured.
"We are aware of an incident at the Aegon Championships," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement on Monday. "A complaint has been made and the Metropolitan Police Service is now investigating. The allegation is of assault."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Queen's Club Final - David Gets Defaulted

















Update
This, in the pic above, was how it started. The end, however, was not quite as picturesque. At 7-6(3), 3-4 for David, he vented his frustation about having just lost his serve again by viciously kicking a board. Something that he tends to do on court but in this case, he hurt the linesman who was sitting behind that board. And because of that, David got defaulted.

A way of losing the match that will have its consequences for him, also beyond the match itself. What those consequences will look like exactly, that remains to be seen.

I'll wait with my post about this match and all that went and might still go with it until tomorrow, when the dust has settled a bit.


(Getty Images; montage by VD)












It's been a strange week with the rain and the delays. I won some very good matches and I'm happy with the way I'm playing. These victories are good, going to Wimbledon and the Olympics.
A strange week for David, and one of following his matches mostly on the scoreboard for us. But it's also been a strange week at the Queen's Club in general, with the top seeds going out early and the draw opening up unexpectedly for David. In the past, he was often unable to take advantage of situations like that. But normal rules just don't seem to apply this week...
So today, David gets to play the second final on grass of his career, ten years after his surprise run to the Wimbledon final back in 2002. It's his first final since Auckland 2011.

In it, he gets to face a player he has a positive match record against (standing at 4-1 in David's favour) and has beaten before this year, in the second round at Indian Wells. But Marin Cilic also inflicted a very painful defeat on David this year, by beating him during the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie in April. Becoming only the second player (after Nikolay Davydenko) to defeat David at the Parque Roca. Another match in very windy conditions. In David's words:
When we played in Davis Cup, the wind that we had was horrible. It was a bad match, that's a fact, and when it's like that you can't take anything from it. Just like today [i.e. yesterday] you don't know what you did well or badly.
What both David and Marin Cilic did well yesterday was handling the conditions better than their opponents. Today, however, it's apparently not as windy in London as it was yesterday.

To get to this final, sixth seed Cilic (#25) beat, after a bye in the first round, Matthew Ebden and Lukas Rosol before profiting from Yen-Hsun Lu's retirement in the quarterfinal. In the semifinal yesterday, he overcame former Queen's Club champion Sam Querrey in three sets. David's (very brief) assessment of his opponent and his game:
He's a very complete player with very good shots, especially the serve. I'll have to be wary.
But also Cilic knows that he'll have to be wary of David and his strengths:
It's very difficult to play against him because most of the time he's in control of the game and with the return and the groundstrokes he doesn't give you many chances. You have to be smart in the game, know how to put the ball away from him and put him in tough positions that he can't really control it.
(Quotes: source.)
Let's hope he can control it - VAMOS DAVID!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

David Makes the Queen's Club Final

(Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

There was a little scene that repeated itself a number of times during the match today, becoming almost something like its trademark: David getting ready to serve, tossing the ball
- only to catch it and then start all over again. But not even the extremely windy conditions could stop David today. After ninety stormy minutes on Centre Court, he defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-4 for a place in the Queen's Club final tomorrow, his first final since Auckland 2011. And his second on grass, after the Wimbledon final, ten years ago. In it, he'll face someone he has already met twice this year, Marin Cilic.

From the start, it was clear that the blustery conditions would play a big part in this match. And that whoever would find the better way of dealing with them would be the winner in the end. Difficult conditions usually favour the more experienced player. Still, wind usually is just about the worst thing that can happen to David. Most of all because of his very high ball toss on serve. And I've seen some really terrible matches from David in conditions like these...
But not today. Today, David didn't let the wind keep him from playing his game.

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Especially during the first set, still trying to adapt to the wind, David and Dimitrov both had their problems on serve. David began with an immediate break but then dropped his serve in the following game. A scenario that repeated itself when David broke for 3-2 and then got broken for 3-3. Only that this time he went on to break Dimitrov again and that break for 4-3 turned out to be decisive, as it allowed David to serve for the set at 5-4, and he serve it out to love.
In the second set, it was once again David who got the first break for 2-1. And this time, he held on to it but only until Dimitrov managed to break back and draw level at 3-3. The game that would decide this match took place at 4-4. David saved four game points before some of his best points in this match earned him the decisive break. And then he served out the match without difficulties, converting his first match point.

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
It was a very clever match that David played today. Faced with an unknown opponent and tricky conditions, he not just neutralised Dimitrov's serve and worked out the best way of drawing errors from him (playing to his backhand, preferably with slice). He also figured out what was working best for him, rallying mostly with his forehand, which seemed more stable than his backhand. But most of all, and that's where his experience came in, David waited for the right moment to take risks. He kept the ball in play when he had to, when the wind made more adventurous shots impossible. And when a chance presented itself, to play combinations of shots or advance to the net - he took advantage of it.
Of course he also made a ton of errors. Of course he also got caught off-guard, with the wind changing the direction of the ball. And he swore a lot and hit a ball out of the stadium. But he never lost his focus.
- And was rewarded in the end.

During this week, the tournament website and the British media first made a huge fuss about Murray and the British players, then about Tsonga and when they were all gone they focused on Grigor Dimitrov. While David, without any interviews and without videos or a fuss being made about him, just played and won his matches, also two of them in one day, over on Court 1. Well, he probably liked being left in peace. But by now, there's no longer any way around David. And by now, his picture is right there at the top of the tournament website.
I've already said it before this match, whatever happens from now on, this has been a great tournament from him. And now, it's only more true.

Last but not least:
18 days ago, a crestfallen and resigned David had to face the press at Roland Garros.
Today, a sweaty but very happy David got interviewed directly after the match. Here's the clip:

Queen's Club SF - David vs Grigor Dimitrov

(Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)



UpdateII
- And he has done it yet again! This time even without drama.
David has defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-4 in exactly one hour and a half for a place in the Queen's Club final. There, he will face Marin Cilic tomorrow.

Edit: Photos are up now, post coming later...








(AP Photo/Getty Images; montage by VD)













Update
3.31pm local: Marin Cilic has defeated Sam Querrey in the first semifinal of the day and David's match will now soon begin...

Welcome to day 6 at the Queen's Club, semifinals day - which also happens to be day 1, as far as coverage for David's matches is concerned. It has been a rather chaotic week at the Queen's Club for David, including a complete wash-out and various rain delays that affected his schedule, culminating in having to play two matches, yesterday. But unfazed by all of that, David has made his way through the rounds, taking advantage of the draw opening up for him. So today, he gets to play his third semifinal of the season and the second at the Queen's Club after 2008. And once more, he's up against a player he has never met before.

Grigor Dimitrov, currently ranked #72 (his highest ranking was #52, last year) is, at 21 years of age, the youngest player in the Queen's Club semifinals. For him, it's the first time that he's among the final four at an ATP tournament. And it's also the first time that he has made it past the second round anywhere this year. In doubles, however, Dimitrov has a final to his name, which he reached at Eastbourne last year - on grass. And according to his ATP profile, hardcourt and grass are Dimitrov's favourite surfaces.
At the Queen's Club this week, Dimitrov beat qualifier Bobby Reynolds (you may remember him from the US Open, last year) and Gilles Muller before taking out Nicolas Mahut, a grass specialist and former runner-up at this event. In the quarterfinal yesterday, Dimitrov overcame Kevin Anderson in three tight sets.

On forums, Grigor Dimitrov often goes by the nickname "BabyFed", sometimes meant as a compliment and sometimes not really, because apart from his backhand, which he sometimes also hits double-handed, Dimitrov tries to emulate Federer's game, complete with the serve and the occasionally flashy forehand as his biggest weapons. It'll be interesting to see whether David will notice those similarities. After all, there are few who know the original better than he does.
But most of all, the question going into this match is what will be the more important factor, the confidence those two victories yesterday must have given him or the strength that playing those two matches must have cost. Hopefully, it'll be the former.

And by the way...

Four years ago to the day, a blog named Vamos David was born and I wrote my first post.
By now, we've reached over 800 posts and almost 15.000 comments. Unbelievable... :)
Thank you all for coming here and for continuing to come here. And thank you for the comments, the help, the photos, the links and the updates. And, of course - VAMOS DAVID!!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Queen's Club: David Strikes Twice to Reach the Semifinal

(Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

Around an hour into the first match today, his third-round encounter with Edouard Roger-Vasselin, it didn't really look like this was going to be a long day on court for David. He was trailing by a set and a break at 4-2, he was furious about the slippery court, and he had already received first a code violation and then a point penalty (for ball and racquet abuse).
At that moment, it would've been easy to give up. But David didn't give up - he fought back. And in the end, he didn't just win that match 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. He also won his second match, the quarterfinal against Xavier Malisse, and again after dropping the first set, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.
These two victories grant David a place in the semifinal, where he'll face Grigor Dimitrov (#72) tomorrow. For David, it's the second semifinal at the Queen's Club (after 2008).

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
I.) R3: David vs Edouard Roger-Vasselin
David began this first match by losing his serve but was able to recover the break for 2-2. And he just seemed to be finding his rhythm when at 3-3, the rain came and stopped play for about an hour. When play resumed, David scraped through to 4-3 after saving three break points but then lost his serve to grant Roger-Vasselin a 5-4 lead, and the Frenchman served out the first set.
Early on in the second, David dropped his serve again (for 2-1). And leading 4-2, Roger-Vasselin was two games away from victory. But David broke back for 4-4 and saved two break points to get to 5-4 before in the follwing game Roger-Vasselin double-faulted to surrender his serve - and the second set.
And David carried the momentum over into the third. He broke Roger-Vasselin to go up 2-0 and after saving another break point in the next game he now grew more solid on serve. At 5-2, with the Frenchman serving to stay in the match, there was another, much shorter rain delay and when play resumed once again, David held a first match point but Roger-Vasselin snuffed it out with an ace. So David had to serve it out and he did, eventually converting his third match point.

As mentioned above, David was at odds with himself and with the conditions for much of this match. And for my part, I can't recall the last time I saw him get a point penalty. But the bigger concern during this match were those altogether 14 double faults that he committed. As well as the two hours and 14 minutes he had already spent on court, going into his second match of the day...

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
II.) QF: David vs Xavier Malisse
In this match, David was off to better start, holding serve fairly comfortably and then getting the first break to go up 4-2. What exactly happened after that is impossible to say without having seen the match. But in any case, David lost the next four games in a row and consequently the first set.
At this stage, I thought that he was probably getting tired, which would've only been understandable. But David battled on and now began to cruise through his service games. At 2-1, he had three break points but couldn't convert any of them. After that the remained on serve (with David dropping only 3 points on serve) until the set went to a tiebreak - David's specialty, these days. He raced to a 6-2 lead and then immediately took his first set point.
Early on in the third set, David struggled a bit more with holding serve again and had to fend off a break point to get to 1-1. After that they remained on serve without further break points on either side until at 4-4, pretty much out of nowhere, Malisse went down 15-40. The first break point he saved with an ace but David took the second and then served out the match - to love.

I honestly don't know how he did it. It's not just that he won both of his matches. It's also that in the second one, he apparently played and served much better than in the first. Posting the kind of numbers on serve you don't get to see from him every day (including only 2 double faults but 10 aces). By all rights, he should've been tired. Physically and maybe also emotionally, after the drama of the first match. But instead, David played what he afterwards called his best match of the week against Malisse (source). - An amazing day with two amazing victories for David. Who told Jorge Viale from Fue Buena that he's tired now of course but ready for the match tomorrow.
And that match, the semifinal against Grigor Dimitrov, will see David playing on Centre Court. - At last! When so far, David's "appearance" on the streams from the Queen's Club was limited to this. But tomorrow, we'll finally get to see him play. And whatever happens in that match, this has already been a great tournament from David. A difficult one (for him and for us) but a great one.

Queen's Club R3/QF - David Beats Edouard Roger-Vasselin - and then also Xavier Malisse

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
UpdateII
And he has done it again!
David has also won his second match of the day, defeating Xavier Malisse 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 in just under two hours.
In the semifinal tomorrow, he'll face Grigor Dimitrov. It will be their first meeting. - And that match will take place on Centre Court, with coverage.

Edit: Photos up now; post coming later tonight (European time).

Update
After two hours and 14 minutes on court, two rain delays and after having been down a set and a break, David has defeated Edouard Roger-Vasselin 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 for a place in the quarterfinal.



(Getty Images; montage by VD)













Weather Update
2.38pm  local: Looks like it's only a brief delay this time and play will resume shortly.

2.28pm local: David's match is once again suspended, with David leading 5-2 in the third set.

12.17 pm: The covers are coming off again and David's match will resume at around 12.30pm local.

12.01pm local: The dark clouds are moving away. ->

11.38am local: Play is once more suspended due to rain at 3-3 in the first set.


We've already had some rather, let's call it unusual days at the Queen's Club, this week.
With the weather (and also the schedule) denying David the chance to play on Centre Court and denying us the chance to watch him play. And unfortunately, it'll be the same scenario again today, with David scheduled to play on Court 1 - without coverage. But what's different (and also unusual) today is that David might get to play two matches, in case he gets past the player pictured above. I'll quote from my pre-match post I wrote for yesterday:

For 28-year-old Edouard Roger-Vasselin, ranked at a career-high #67 as of this week, it's the second time that he has reached the third round at an ATP-level tournament this season, with a quarterfinal appearance at Marseille (lost to Tsonga) as his best result, so far this year. Plus a semifinal at the Challenger level. Something that sets Roger-Vasselin apart from most other players, however, is the choice of his favourite surface, which is grass. And how well he's able to play on it he showed on Wednesday, when after saving a match point he went on to beat four-time Queen's Club champion Andy Roddick.
Edouard Roger-Vasselin has two doubles titles to his name, he's comfortable at the net and possesses the serve, the variety and also the movement on grass to make him a potentially difficult opponent for anyone on this surface - also for David.

If David beats Roger-Vasselin, he'll then also play his quarterfinal match today, as the third match on Court 1 (and again without coverage). If that's the case, he'll get to face Xavier Malisse (#84), the player David defeated to reach the Wimbledon final, ten years ago.
The overall match record between these two stands at 5-1 in David's favour. But Malisse as well can be a tricky opponent on grass.
But first things first - round 3 and David's match against Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

A couple of photos that Istabraq (thanks!) took during David's training session yesterday you'll find on the Photo Page.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Queen's Club R3 - David's Match Postponed to Friday

Once more, rain has stopped play at the Queen's Club. Before David got a chance to play his match. In the words of the British Tennis Twitter:
Unfortunately play has been abandoned for the day here at the #AEGONChampionships. Play will resume tomorrow at 11am.

Which means that David will play his third-round match tomorrow and, if he wins it, then later also his quarterfinal match. If the weather allows it, that is...

Update
As you can see in the sidebar, David's match against Roger-Vasselin will be the first one on Court 1 tomorrow. In case he wins it, his quarterfinal match against Xavier Malisse will be the third match of the day on Court 1. In other words, there will be no streams.

Queen's Club R2 - David Dismisses Bemelmans

(Sang Tan/AP Photo)

When in the very first game, David ended up surrendering his serve it briefly looked like this match might turn into a piece of work for him. A little over one hour later, David converted his first match point to beat Ruben Bemelmans 6-4, 6-2. Without facing any further break points and this time limiting his slow start to the very first game of the match.
In the third round today, David now gets to face Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who defeated Andy Roddick yesterday. Another opponent for David he has never met before.

(Denise Yoko Berndt)
As mentioned above, David dropped his serve in the first game of the match. The break turned out to be short-lived, however, as David broke back to level the score at 1-1. After that, they remained on serve, with David getting through his service games without any difficulties. At 4-4, David was taken to deuce but managed to hold for 5-4. Serving to stay in the set, Bemelmans went down 15-40 and then served the first set point with an ace before David converted his second set point, 6-4.

The second set saw David getting an early break and a 3-1 lead. And if it wasn't already before then it was plain sailing from that moment on. At 5-2, with Bemelmans serving, David held his first match point at 30-40 - and he converted it promptly, 6-2.


A quick and rather easy victory for David, even though (as Istabraq and Denise report) he was somewhat grumpy throughout the match, seemingly unhappy with the court and his footing on it, and also with some of the decisions by umpire Fergus Murphy. Although Murphy let David get away with some racquet-throwing and then also some swearing - in English.
Still, an easy win and one that means David has successfully defended his third-round points from last year. Whether he can gain some additional points - we'll find out.

(Istabraq)
Last but not least, it's official that David will get to play the London Olympics. But until now, there was no statement from him about having qualified. Yesterday, Jorge Viale from Fue Buena caught up with David at the Queen's Club and asked him about it.
I'm very happy that I'll get to play the Olympics and even more so because they'll take place at Wimbledon. I get there in good shape but it could be better. (Source.)
Although the venue is also the cause for some unusual concerns.
It's going to be very strange that we won't have to wear white at Wimbledon. I have no idea what they're going to come up with. (Source.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Queen's Club R2 - David vs Ruben Bemelmans

UpdateII
A straightforward win for David and also a quick one - it took him merely 69 minutes to defeat Ruben Bemelmans 6-4, 6-2.
In the third round tomorrow, his next opponent will now be Edouard Roger-Vasselin (#67), who beat Andy Roddick today. Edit: And that match is scheduled on Centre Court.

Edit: Lots of pics by Istabraq and Denise (thank you both!) now on the Photo Page.
Everything else tomorrow...


(Olé/Getty Images; montage by VD)












Update
6.06pm local: David's match is now next up on Court 1.

They both have longish blond hair, they're both not very tall, at least not by tennis player standards, and they both prefer playing on hardcourt. But that's pretty much as far as the similarities go between David and his opponent today, 24-year-old Ruben Bemelmans.
Amongst other things because, as can be seen above, Bemelmans is a lefty.

For Ruben Bemelmans, at #131 currently ranked the highest he's ever been ranked in his career, this is already his second tournament on grass of the season, though at the Nottingham Challenger last week, he didn't make it past the first round. Bemelmans usually plays Challenger events, with the two finals that he reached at Heilbronn and Athens as his best results this year, plus two further semifinals. At the ATP level, however, today's match is only the third that Bemelmans gets to play this season (and number 16 in total), after a first-round exit at Indian Wells (lost to Matosevic) and his victory over Malek Jaziri yesterday. On grass, this is going to be the sixth match of his career.

Just like yesterday, David will be faced with an opponent he probably doesn't know anything about. And one that I as well don't know anything about. But given that Bemelmans apparently isn't that tall (Edit: either 1.73m or 1.83m, depending on the source; the ATP site has no info on that) I doubt that he's a serve monster, though he's probably a good mover.
Still, in the end, it'll be up to David to "believe in his game", as he likes to say.
Also just like yesterday, there won't be any streams, only the scoreboard...

Queen's Club R1 - David Gets Going against Pospisil

(photo by Istabraq)





















Perhaps, it wasn't really surprising that when after almost two days of waiting David finally got to play his first-round match yesterday, in the cold and the gathering gloom of an overcast (but at least dry) London evening - he did catch a slow start. Also playing, once more, against an opponent he had probably never heard of before. But in the end, after turning the match around, following the loss of the first set, David won his first match of this rather unusual grass-court season by defeating Vasek Pospisil 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
In the second round, later today, his opponent will be Ruben Bemelmans (who replaced Leo Mayer in the draw). It'll be David's first meeting with the Belgian lefty (#131).

(Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
A brief summary. The first set saw David practically without any chances on Pospisil's serve, with the young Canadian dropping merely four points on serve during it (and winning 100% of his first serves). But David held quite comfortably too, until facing but then also saving a first break point to get to 3-3. Serving to stay in the set at 5-4 for Pospisil, however, David faced another break point - and then came the double fault...

The game that probably turned out to be crucial for the match was the first one in set 2. During it, David had to fend off three further break points and had Pospisil converted one of those, it would've made things really rather difficult for David. But he saved all three and went on to break Pospisil in the next game, a lead he then managed to extend to a double break (for 4-1) before serving out the set to take it 6-2.

Early on the third set, at 1-1, the longest service game and deuce battle of the match saw David having altogether five chances to break, the last of which he finally managed to take. Having gone up a double break again after that (for 4-1), David came under pressure one last time in the following game. But after saving another break point and getting through to 5-1, David eventually served out the match, converting his first match point.

That's the order in which things happened yesterday on Court 1 and as much as could be gathered from following it on the scoreboard. However, Istabraq was there in the stands and her impressions from the match you can read here. Apart from that, she also took photos (thank you!), which have been added (along with more agency pics) to the Photo Page.

So, a bit of a slow start but all in all a good start for David at the Queen's Club and an important match to win after Roland Garros. Let's hope he can build on it today.

(Alastair Grant/AP Photo)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Queen's Club R1 - David vs Vasek Pospisil

(Alastair Grant/AP Photo)
UpdateII
After nearly two days of waiting and a last-minute court change, David has won his first-round match at the Queen's Club, defeating Vasek Pospisil 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in an hour and forty minutes.
There was no stream for this match in the end so coming up with a report will be difficult. But Istabraq and Denise were there at Court 1 and maybe they'll tell us a bit more about what happened. And of course I also hope they took photos. Though to my surprise, the photo agencies have covered the match, as well.

In the second round tomorrow, David will face Ruben Bemelmans (#131).
Edit: The first round of photos now on the Photo Page.
More tomorrow...



(Getty Images; montage by VD)













UPDATE
David's match has been moved to Court 1 - for which there's no coverage.
So after all the waiting it's another round of scoreboard-watching...


Or rather: David vs Vasek Pospisil - the second attempt, after yesterday, the complete Queen's Club schedule "drowned" in the London rain. And David's match along with it...

Last year, David, ranked #39 as of this week, played his first match on grass of the season (after missing out on the grass-court events for three years) against a young player he had never met before, ranked just outside the Top100 and with little experience on grass. And the exact same description applies to Vasek Pospisil, David's opponent today. But whereas last year, David's first-round match (and then also his other ones) took place on an outside-court, this time he gets to play on Centre Court, also today. Still, whether today the rain will stop long enough for those three matches scheduled ahead of David's to be played and then also his - that remains to be seen.

For 21-year-old Vasek Pospisil, currently ranked #103 (his highest ranking so far has been #95), this will only be the sixth match he gets to play on grass in his still young career, and the first that doesn't take place in qualiyfing. Pospisil mostly plays Challenger events, with hardcourt as his favourite surface, and his best result of the year so far has been winning the Rimouski Challenger in Canada, his home country. At the ATP-level, however, he hasn't made it past the first round at any of the three events (Chennai, Montpellier and Indian Wells) where he made it into the main draw. I've never seen Pospisil play so I can't say anything about his game. Only that according to the ATP website, he thinks of his forehand as his best shot.

Well, fingers crossed that David gets to play this match today!

Finally, here's a photo of David, leaving the premises yesterday after a day spent waiting. Istabraq took it (thank you!), along with a couple of others you'll find on the Photo Page.

(photo by Istabraq)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Queen's Club R1 - David's Match Postponed to Tuesday

Weather Update
5.05pm local: It's official, all play is cancelled for the day. So David will play his first-round match tomorrow - if the weather allows it...


(Reuters)
3.30pm local: It's still raining in London, no play before 5pm local...

2.05pm local: No play before 3.30pm local. The last matches on Centre Court and Court 1 have already been cancelled.

1.12pm local: The latest news - no play before 2pm local. If play can start at 2pm remains to be seen...

12.20pm local: Rain Delay. David's match won't start as scheduled. Right now, not even the tournament website dares to come up with an estimated starting time...

Note: I've removed the pre-match post now. I'll put it up again, tomorrow...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Queen's Club Draw

Update (10/06)
The news first came via Fue Buena last night and by now it's official: Leonardo Mayer has pulled out of the tournament for personal reasons. Therefore David and Leo Mayer can't meet in the second round and David won't play doubles, after all.

The good news: David's singles match will be the first match on Centre Court tomorrow.
The not so good news: The weather forecast says it's going to rain in London - all day...


The European clay-court swing lies behind us, time to move on to the tournaments on grass. For the third time, after 2008 and last year, David has chosen the AEGON Championships, more widely known by the name of the venue, the Queen's Club, as his first event on grass.
In the hope of getting a couple matches under his belt, ahead of Wimbledon.
So here's what is going to await David at the Queen's Club this year. He has been drawn into the top half and there into bottom quarter:

[4] Gilles Simon (FRA) vs BYE
Simone Bolelli (ITA) vs Ernests Gulbis (LAT)
Adrian Ungur (ROU) vs Xavier Malisse (BEL)
Martin Klizan (SVK) vs [13] Alex Bogomolov Jr. (RUS)

[10] David Nalbandian (ARG) vs Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
Malek Jaziri (TUN) vs [Q] Ruben Bemelmans (BEL)
Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs QUALIFIER
BYE vs [7] Andy Roddick (USA)

The complete draw you can view here.


(zvg)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Look ahead at the Queen's Club & Wimbledon

It's a highly unusual grass season that we have on our hands this year. With Wimbledon not only hosting the 126th edition of The Championships but then also, a month later, the tennis competition that will be part of the London Olympics 2012. But whereas playing two events at Wimbledon will be something entirely new for all those players who get to take part in the Olympics, it looks like David's schedule on grass this year might also be unusual for another reason. And that's the absence of his name on the player list for The Boodles Challenge, the exhibition event that has for many long years been David's standard way of spending the week before Wimbledon. Whether this time he really won't be paying a visit to Stoke Park, that remains to be seen.
In any case, here's a look at the two tournaments on grass that David is going to play (the Olympics will get their own preview, of course):

AEGON Championships, Queen's Club (June 11-17)

(Getty Images)
















For David, this is going to be the third visit to Queen's Club since making his debut in 2008. Back then, he decided to play the tournament for the first time after previously preparing for Wimbledon at Boodles and occasionally also at Halle (where he never made it past the first round). His first appearance at the Queen's Club saw David reaching the semifinal - in the course of which he only got a single game against Novak Djokovic. A terrible match but one that he played while struggling with his hip injury, as became known much later.
Last year, having received a wildcard from the organisers, David made it to the third round, though we weren't able to watch any of it. Unfortunately, all of his matches took place on untelevised courts, including his third-round defeat against Fernando Verdasco and also his surprise appearance in doubles, together with Andy Roddick (who asked David in the locker room to play doubles with him).

David will be seeded, that much is already certain. And it means that he won't meet another seeded player in the first two rounds. Which seeding he'll get depends on whether there'll be further withdrawals and at the moment it looks like this will probably be the case.
Edit: Right now, David would be the 11th seed (Fish, Gasquet and Wawrinka have withdrawn), and no longer bound to meet one of the top four seeds in the third round.

The draw ceremony will take place on Saturday, at 4pm local time.


The Championships, Wimbledon (June 25 - July 8)

(Getty Images)
















Ten years ago, a young and pretty much unknown Argentine player, contesting his first ever Championships as a pro, surprised the tennis world (and himself) by reaching the final of Wimbledon... To this day, David's surprise run back in 2002 remains to be one of the biggest and most famous achievements of his career - even if in the final he didn't stand a chance against his 'special friend' Lleyton Hewitt.
Now, a decade later, David returns to SW19 for what will be his altogether eighth appearance at the oldest and most prestigious tournament in the world. However, ever since his spectacular debut David's results at Wimbledon haven't been quite as spectacular, with the quarterfinal he reached in 2005 as the only other time he managed to get to the second week. Since then, it's mostly been exits in the third round for David. Whether the infamous (supposedly) tanked match in 2006, or last year, where despite a good performance he ended up losing to Roger Federer in straights (and suffering another adductor injury in the process). Still, back then David obviously enjoyed getting the chance to play on the most famous of all Centre Courts. Whether he'll get another one this year is going to depend on the draw. And not just that - as David won't enjoy the protection of being seeded, he could face anyone in the first round, from qualifier or wildcard to Djokovic, Nadal or Federer.
So once again, we can only hope that he'll get lucky with the draw.

The draw ceremony will be held on Friday, June 22, at 10am local time.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Situation According to David

(EFE)
















With David in London now, not just hanging out with friends but also preparing to play the Queen's Club and then Wimbledon, I wasn't necessarily expecting that we'd get to hear anything from him, while he's getting ready for the tournaments on grass.
Yesterday, however, the following interview with David was published on the website of TyC Sports (broadcasters of the Davis Cup in Argentina). It's a brief one and only consists of a handful of questions. But among those are some rather poignant ones.
It starts with the question I raised in my post on David's first-round defeat at Roland Garros, about his take on this season and his results up until now.
Q: What's your assessment of the year you've had so far? Are you doing better or worse than you thought you would, ahead of the season?

David: So far, it's been a year with some very good results on the one hand, and others that were not what I was hoping for. I'm fine, physically and in terms of my sport. Still, it's clear that being 30 years old and the surgeries I had during my career weigh down on me during the season.
On the one hand, there's the two semifinals and the two quarterfinals he reached this year. With the semifinal at the Copa Claro and the quarterfinal at Indian Wells (including victories over two Top10 players) as the highlights. But on the other hand, at the Slams and the other Masters events, David hasn't made it past the second round anywhere. And although he had some bad luck with the draws that's surely not the kind of results he was hoping for. That also goes for losing in the semifinal at Belgrade, the tournament that was his big chance to win his first title since Washington 2010.
Which takes us to the "big one", as far as questions for David are concerned:
Q: What are the chances of you, retiring at the end of the season, as has been rumoured?

David: It's no secret that these are the final years of my career, though I haven't set a definitive date for retiring yet.

Q: Do you still have the strength and the motivation to continue, or is it all going to depend on the results?

David: As I've said before, age is weighing down on me and I'm also faced with opponents who hit the ball much harder. But nothing is definitive yet.
As David has also said before, he's going to decide at the end of the year whether he'll retire or whether he'll play one more season. A decision that will most of all depend on the physical state he's in. But looking at his replies here, this might not just refer to being healthy, as in not suffering further injuries. The question also seems to be whether David thinks he can still physically keep up with the level of play on the Tour, on a regular basis. And the second half of the season, with the US hardcourt events and the indoor swing, traditionally David's best part of the year, might prove to be crucial for answering that question.
Something that's always crucial for David is the Davis Cup, in this case the upcoming semifinal tie against the Czechs at the Parque Roca (September 14-16):
Q: What are your expectations for the tie against the Czech Republic? How will you have to play against Berdych and Stepanek?

David: It's going to be a very tough tie, no doubt about that. Berdych has been inside the Top10 for a long time and Stepanek is a very talented and experienced player. We have to make sure that the advantage of playing at home really matters and also of knowing that they're not clay specialists. But I'll say it again, the tie will be very tough. 
Finally, a question about the Olympics. Back in 2004, injury kept David from playing the Olympics in Athens. Four years later in Beijing, he lost in the third round (to Monfils) but had a great time at the Olympic Village, an experience he'd love to repeat.
Q: What does the possibility of playing the London Olympics mean to you?

David: I'd love to be able to play the Olympics, something that will be decided after Roland Garros. I hope that I'll get to be there because I want to relive the wonderful experience of staying at the Olympic Village, together with the other athletes. And obviously, if I get to play, there can be no doubt that I'm going to give my best in order to try and win a medal for Argentina.
Whether David gets to play will officially be decided on Monday, June 11, when the rankings after Roland Garros come out that will determine the entry list for the Olympics. In the past weeks, I've tried to keep you up-to-date about his chances of qualifying. Focusing mostly on his chances of replacing Juan Ignacio Chela as the fourth Argentine player (behind Delpo, Pico and Berlocq). And by now, David has indeed made it past Chela in the rankings.
But as I've mentioned in the comments, there's someone I admittedly didn't keep an eye on and that's Leonardo Mayer. He moved up in the rankings over the past few weeks and he still has a theoretical chance of overtaking David...
Edit: ...A chance that is over now. Mayer lost to Almagro in the third round today and that means David gets to play the London Olympics.