Thursday, November 29, 2012

Copa Argentina: Draw & Schedule

(event website)

It's the ninth year in a row that David is going to play the Copa Argentina exhibition. And it's the fifth year of covering this event here on Vamos David for me. But this is a first. In the past, the draw always took place during a press conference on the day before the event. But this time, the organisers apparently thought it was time for a change and they released the draw and the schedule already today. So, earlier than planned, here's what's ahead next week.

The Copa Argentina is held in the "Super Six" format. Two round-robin groups of three players each, the winners of which get to contest the final. And here are this year's groups:

Group A
Gilles Simon
Edit: Charly Berlocq
(Fernando Verdasco has pulled out.)

Group B
Nicolas Almagro
Alexandr Dolgopolov

Not exactly an easy group for David. Or rather, the most difficult one for him ever since the introduction of the Super Six format back in 2009. Whether David will enjoy the challenge, and whether he'll be up for it - we'll see.
And here's the complete schedule of play for this year's Copa Argentina:
(Play starts 8.30pm local; the final on Sunday starts 7pm local.)

Thursday (6/12)
Pico vs Charly Berlocq
David vs Alexandr Dolgopolov

Friday (7/12)
Gilles Simon vs Charly Berlocq
Nicolas Almagro vs Alexandr Dolgopolov

Saturday (8/12)
David vs Nicolas Almagro
Pico vs Gilles Simon

So, 106 days after his last official match at Winston-Salem against Alexandr Dolgopolov, David is going to play an exhibition match at the BALTC - against Alexandr Dolgopolov. Whether that's a good omen or a bad one I'll leave to you to decide...
I'll try my best to provide stream links for David's matches. Any help will be appreciated.
Here's hoping that we'll get to see David play - it's been a while.
More about his Copa Argentina history still to come. Soon.

Update (01/12)
Here's the new Topper "Copa David" ad:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Great News for David (& Copa Claro Presentation)

It was supposed to be an important day for the Copa Claro and its organisers with the official presentation of next year's edition (February 18-24). But their "guest star" ended up stealing their thunder. And the piece of info that immediately made the rounds on the social networks and in the media had little to do with the Copa Claro. Or with tennis, for that matter.
I posted it in the comments (of the previous post), and only there because it wasn't official. But now it is: David will become a father. His girlfriend Victoria Bosch is expecting a child, to be born next May. Great news for them but also news that came out sooner than planned.
The information was leaked [to the press]. We would've liked to announce it, ourselves. Victoria and me, we are very happy.
Now, we've already speculated about how this might affect David's schedule.
For now, the birth of the baby won't change my tennis calendar.
That's what he says now (and for now) - we'll see.
What's clear though, and now also official, is that David is going to play the 2013 edition of the Copa Claro. Where he'll be joined by this year's champion David Ferrer, this year's runner-up Nicolas Almagro and also Stanislas Wawrinka, who obviously had a good time in Buenos Aires this year despite not making the final. Pico on the other hand hasn't been confirmed yet (the initial info was wrong) but the organisers are in talks with him, and also with Kei Nishikori (source).
In any case, David is looking forward to playing his home tournament:
It's always motivating for me to play in front my home crowd. It's going to be a pleasure to play in Buenos Aires again. It's something that I enjoy very much and I think it's unlike anything else.
Speaking of which, in the clip above David first says that he watched some matches on TV while he was out, injured and then also gets asked to pick the most memorable match he played at Buenos Aires. After giving it some thought he goes for "the match against Potito" Starace. And there were three of those at this event, including his comeback match after hip surgery. But the one David means is the quarterfinal 2008, an epic battle in front of a very vocal crowd, including an especially vocal Diego Maradona, that David eventually won in three sets (match point here). All of that on his way to winning the title that year.

What's going to happen at the beginning of next year, however, that's the one thing he apparently didn't talk about. Or at least, I haven't been able to find out anything more about whether David is indeed going to skip the Australian Open...

Update (29/11)
According to Danny Miche, he will and his first event in 2013 is going to be the Davis Cup tie against Germany (February 1-3).
Edit: Quique Cano agrees and says it's official - no David at the Australian Open.

Ahead for David now are his preparations for the next season:
I feel good, physically. I'm going to do a demanding pre-season with the intention of starting the next year without any of the pain or problems that have kept me from playing, this season.
And of course the Copa Argentina, next week. More about it soon.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

More Interviews & Copa David

Update (26/11)
As announced by the AAT today, the Davis Cup first-round tie next year is going to be held at the Parque Roca - on clay (thanks, Leandro).
Going by what he said in recent interviews, this means that David will do his pre-season on clay and won't play the Australian Open.
Whether this is definitive I guess we'll find out on Wednesday, at the Copa Claro presentation.

(Daniel Caceres/Clarin)
There are lots of things in life that David enjoys more than giving interviews. But from time to time he agrees to doing a whole round of them, like earlier this week in Villa Allende.
Two further interviews from his "media marathon" on Monday, both by Hernan Sartori for Clarin, were published yesterday.
One of them you'll find below.
The other, longer one, which is all about the Davis Cup, I've added in another backdated post that you can read here.
David: I miss competing because it's the adrenaline I've had since I was very young. It's something that's really great about this sport, also having fellow players you've known for many years. When something like that [an injury] happens you want to get those sensations back again.

Q: How did you deal with those first moments after the injury?

David: At first, I tried to make things happen a little faster but when I saw that it wasn't possible I took my foot off the gas and and did a rehabilitation that was a bit more relaxed, knowing that I wasn't going to play anything else this year.

Q: What kind of role does the mind play when an athlete gets injured?

David: It's never great to be injured because you're always ready to be on court. But things like that happen and unfortunately, they happened to me. I hope I can have a good start in 2013. It's important to think about what's ahead and not about the past.

Q: Are you planning to return step by step or as if nothing happened?

David: No, normal. I'll play the Copa Argentina, I'll do the pre-season and next year I'll be fully fit. I have to decide if I'm going to play the Australian Open because the Davis Cup will take place immediately afterwards and you have to think about the adaptation to the surface. And I'm going to play the South American swing.
Here, it sounds like going to the Australian Open will be something he'll decide and not just the consequence of the surface chosen for the first-round tie, like in the other interviews.
In any case, David obviously doesn't know or doesn't care to use the name that ATP has come up with for the South American events, i.e. the Golden Swing.
Q: Are you going to set goals for yourself from the start or do you want to enjoy your return?

David: Both. I want to enjoy going back to playing again because that's what I've been missing. But I also want to make it back inside the Top50 in the ranking, out of which I've dropped because of the injury. And the Davis Cup remains to be an objective.

Q: Which David Nalbandian would you like to be in six months?

David: I want to be healthy, competing and enjoying another year of tennis and what the sport has given to me.

Q: Without too much pressure?

David: With the Davis Cup there will be pressure because it's great to play it. And I think that I can achieve the goal of getting back inside the Top50 next year.

Q:  You're 30 years old now, with a few more years to go. What would you like the end of your career to be like?

David: Healthy, competing and achieving goals. When you stop having goals and objectives it gets very difficult to train, to have the right attitude and to compete. You always have to have clear goals and achieve them.

Apart from that, there's the new Topper campaign, soon to be released. Featuring Topper's two big stars, who share the same first name, David and footballer David Trezeguet. And therefore to be called "Copa David" (more pics from the shoot you can view on the Photo Page). 
Apparently, it'll be an interactive campaign, involving several rounds, with a match against either of the Davids as the main prize.

And this seems to be the new shirt that Topper have designed for David,
a bit like a variation of the old one and an improvement, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Meanwhile at the BALTC the court is being prepared for the tenth anniversary edition of the Copa Argentina, now less than two weeks away. More about the event and David's long history with it next week.

(Copa Argentina/FB)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

In David's Words - Supplement


So after months of silence we've now had two long interviews. And lots of replies from David to various questions about different topics. Among them the most important topic of them all, his plans for the coming season. To put those things he said into context - a little summary:

When and where the 2013 season will begin for David - that's still the question. Depending on the surface chosen for the first-round tie, it's either going to be at the Australian Open (January 14-27) or at the Davis Cup home tie against Germany (February 1-3).
Directly after that it'll be time for the Golden Swing. This year, David played all of it. Doing the same next year would mean Viña del Mar (according to the Chilean press, the organisers are trying to get David for their event), São Paulo, the Copa Claro and finally Acapulco. He'll play the Copa Claro but which ones of the other events remains to be seen.
According to ESPN, David will then play Indian Wells and Miami, for both of which he'll need and apparently get a wildcard (just like he would have this year, had he needed one).
After Miami, it'll then be Davis Cup week again and time for the quarterfinal (April 5-7).
- That's, roughly, what the first part of David's season will look like. 

David's ranking as it is now (#81) is still high enough to get into the main draw at Slams, at most 250 tournaments and at some of the 500s. But it's not enough for Masters events, so for playing any of those, David will depend on wildcards. It's either that, or getting back inside the Top50. But that won't be easy at the start of the season. After all, there's still that big question mark, concerning the Australian Open, and during the Golden Swing he'll have a number of points to defend before he can start adding anything to his count. Not to forget the quarterfinal points he'll be defending at Indian Wells. So to improve his ranking will be difficult during this first part of the season. And that means afterwards we'll not only find out which European tournaments David likes and wants to play but also which European Masters events will be willing to give him a wildcard.

Davis Cup
The next season could very well be David's last and final chance to win the title he wants more than anything else and to achieve the one big and long-standing goal that's still within his reach. Now, the Davis Cup has always been very important to David, to put it mildly,
also more important than Slams (see Wimbledon 2010). Next year, it'll be even "worse" and whether or not you like David's Davis Cup obsession, you can expect it to rule the next season, even more so than before. In other words, he might skip tournaments (including Slams, and not just the Australian Open) if he thinks that playing them interferes with his chances of doing well in Davis Cup.
What the next season will bring in terms of Davis Cup drama, well, that remains to be seen. I've mentioned it in the previous post, considering hardcourt for the first tie is apparently an attempt to get Delpo to play. And make what could be a new start after the lost semifinal.

So that's what's ahead for David and for us in 2013. Or at least, in the first few months of it. David's main goal for the season will of course be winning the Davis Cup. Apart from that, he has apparently done what I wasn't sure he'd do - he seems to have adjusted his expectations. Though if he gets to play Rafa for example, he'll still try to prove that he can beat him, that much is certain. But what I hope is that 2013 will see David enjoying himself on court again.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In David's Words: Davis Cup, Polo & Plans for 2013

(Pedro Castillo/MundoD)

It's been a while since I last had the chance to post some interviews. Two months, to be precise, during which practically nothing was to be heard from Mr. Nalbandian. Also not concerning the big question of whether he'd go on playing. He will - that much became known ahead of the round of interviews David gave yesterday at the Inés Gorrochategui Academy. But now, there's finally the chance to hear more from him, about what has happened in the meantime, as well as about his plans and goals for the next season.
There are two interviews that I've translated. The one below, by Fabian Sacarelli for MundoD, and an additional, shorter one that you'll find in this backdated post here.
So, without further ado, here's what David had to say.
Q: It's been a long break.

David: Yeah, though I didn't stop completely. I kept doing things for my fitness, two or three times a week so that I didn't lose what [fitness] I still had and can begin with the pre-season for next year in December. If I want to achieve my goals I have to start now, or next week if the circumstances allow it. So the idea was that if I recover and don't get to play anymore at the end of the year I'd stay in shape in order to not lose as much [fitness] and start the pre-season not totally out of practice.

Q: And it was good to get rid of the bitter taste, left by the Davis Cup [semifinal] defeat.

David: That weekend was tough. Because of the defeat, because of the goals that we had, because of everything. After that I wanted to try and play some events before the end of the season and that didn't work out, either. But the truth is that I still want to go on [playing] next year and face some important challenges. That's pretty much what I've planned but it didn't cross my mind after the defeat. I know that I can still fight and that's what I'll aim to do next year.

Q: But you were disappointed.

David: I wasn't exactly happy, the week after the defeat. I was pissed off because of the injury and not being able to play the tie. But I know that things like that happen and you have to deal with them.

Q: Without pressure in terms of the ranking or the results, perhaps you'll enjoy being on the Tour more.

David: I hope I'll enjoy the tournaments ahead. When you walk onto the court you want to win and the rest moves into the background. The idea is to enjoy it because it's a great sport that has given so much to me. Right now, I do [enjoy it] but when I'll lose the desire it'll be difficult to go on playing.

Q: The pre-season is going to determine how you start your schedule?

David: I'll do the pre-season in mid-December. Whether I'll go to Australia or not will depend on the surface they choose for the Davis Cup (in February against Germany). I'll have to wait for that but the plan is to play the tournaments in South America on clay. If I don't go to Australia, I'll do the pre-season on clay, and if I go I'll do it on hardcourt.
You're probably wondering why the surface is even an issue with this tie when they usually play their home ties on clay. But it's different this time and the only reason I can think of is
- Delpo. Who usually skips the first round of Davis Cup and doesn't play the Golden Swing but prefers to play on hardcourt, ahead of Indian Wells and Miami. I think that considering hardcourt for this tie is an attempt to include Delpo with the team.
Q: You're planning your schedule around the Davis Cup.

David: Yeah, it's what I'm going to start the year with, at the end of January and the first days of February [the first round takes place February 1-3].

Q: You'll pick the tournaments that you'll play, based on what?

David: Memories, things I like. Apart from that it also depends on the ranking, which ones I'm going to enter. Until the Miami Masters I have everything planned and then I'll see which part of the European swing I'm going to play.
(Irma Montiel/La Nacion)

Q: You're going to play on clay a lot.

David: Yeah, because if the Davis Cup tie in February is held on clay then it's not good to play on hardcourt ahead of it. It's practically certain that I'm going to play the tournament in Buenos Aires and the South American events.

Q: In the meantime, you've made an appearance in polo.

David: I suck (laughs) but I have fun together with Adolfito (Cambiaso), who invited me to play. The opportunity arose because I wasn't playing tennis and it was fun, we had a good team.

Q: You're really bad at polo?

David: Yeah, compared to them...

Q: But Cambiaso is like Maradona.

David: Yeah, but that's the reality I have to deal with (laughs). I have to be aware of it.

Q: After tennis, will there be more than just tennis?

David: Yeah, in life you move through different stages, and tennis is one of them. You can't spend your whole life, playing professionally. I already have several activities that I could do tomorrow. Sport is going to be one of them because I've always liked it and I still do, also other sports apart from tennis, polo, golf, motorsports.

Q: Other things outside of sports?

David: I'm a restless guy and I'm certainly going to do something. Right now, there are several things I could pursue every day, and I don't because I'm still playing tennis. The foundation for example, different undertakings that require time and are now in the background.

Q: How did it make you feel to see Stepanek, almost 34 years old, celebrate having won the Davis Cup?

David: It's great, a reward for all the effort, the sacrifice and the perseverance. They played all year with two players but they had a very good year and didn't get injured.

Q: What did they have that Argentina didn't?

David: It was a very tough tie. Had Juan Martin played on Sunday, they would've been fine. With the whole team there, we're better than them. We have a good team, we have to see how the encounters pan out but for the coming season we have a difficult draw.

Q: Germany will be a tough opponent.

David: Yeah, it's a very tough tie. We must all try and work towards having the best possible team.

Q: What would a satisfying year 2013 look like for you?

David: I think being inside the Top50. I can always get there if I get lucky in terms of injuries and don't get a tough draw at the big events. [Getting inside the Top] 20 or 30, that would be a good year.

Monday, November 19, 2012

News From David (Himself)

(Inés Gorrochategui Academy)

For the first time since the Davis Cup semifinal in September, David talked to members of the Argentine media today, meeting them at the Inés Gorrochategui Academy in Villa Allende.
There'll be more about what David had to say tomorrow, when the articles get published.
But one of the journalists who spoke to David, Guillermo Poggi for TN, tweeted some of his statements, some basic facts:

- David will play all of the 2013 season. Then he'll decide what to do (sounds familiar).
- He wants to play the Golden Swing and the Davis Cup first-round tie against Germany.
- On that tie, i.e. the surface used will depend whether he'll travel to Australia.
  If the tie is going to be played on clay he won't play the Australian Open.
- And he has recovered from his injury - though that much was clear from his polo stint.
(Sources: 1, 2, 3 & 4.)

So - another season with David. And one that will apparently be shaped by the Davis Cup, even more so than already before.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Tournament of a Different Kind - David's Polo Debut

(Emiliano Lasalvia/La Nacion)

Update (19/11)
Surprise - it looks like David is currently talking to the Argentine media at the Inés Gorrochategui Academy. More about it as soon as possible.

It's been ages, or so it seems, since David played his last tournament. And it's still almost three weeks until the Copa Argentina. The last two days, however, David spent playing a tournament - of a different kind. He took part in his first official polo event, the Copa Zafiro.
(Edit: Lots of additional pics now on the Photo Page.)
I'm very happy to be playing my first tournament and even more so because I get to do it together with a friend like Adolfito.
Adolfito is Adolfo Cambiaso, who's usually to be seen in David's box when he's playing tennis in Argentina or Britain, a friend David likes to go out and party with. But apart from that Cambiaso also is arguably the best polo player the world has ever known, head of the famous La Dolfina team and owner of the polo ranch by the same name, where the event was held. In short, David was introduced to the sport by a friend, who happens to be one of its superstars.

That David likes rally driving and golf is widely known. Polo is a more recent and less well-known addition but one that's apparently becoming more and more important for him:
(Emiliano Lasalvia/La Nacion)
I felt really good out there on the polo field. I think I'm making a lot of progress. I have to try and play more often.
He started buying polo ponies already a while ago and apparently, David has plans for setting up his own club in Unquillo.
Polo is one of my favourite sports. When I retire from tennis it could be that I start playing polo the next day.
He wouldn't be the first Argentine athlete to take that path. There's also ex-footballer Gabriel Batistuta, who went from striker on Argentina's national team to polo player and owner of his own club.

As for the tournament David played, the Copa Zafiro, it was a smaller event that consisted of two rounds. In his debut match, the one he got to play alongside Adolfo Cambiaso, David contributed two goals to the 14-8 victory of his team, called Imperial. In the final, David's team had to make do without Cambiaso but they still won 10-9, thanks to a golden goal scored in extra time. So David's polo debut ended with him, winning his first title, the kind of experience he must have missed (see pic below).
The La Nacion article I've taken the quotes from ends with the words, "that much is clear, while he's moving further away from tennis, he's moving closer to polo." Not yet, hopefully...


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Resolving The Uncertainties

With the Copa Argentina now three weeks away, there's still nothing to be heard from David (who has by now dropped to #81 in the rankings). No statement about his plans, nothing about the current situation.
But while there's no news from David himself, there's news about him - and it's great news.

According to a new press release on the Copa Claro website (thanks, Denise!), David will be present at the official presentation of next year's edition, to take place on November 28.
Where, as the article states, he'll "begin to resolve the uncertainties concerning 2013".
After missing the end of the season due to injury, Nalbandian is recovering his top form, focusing on the 2013 season, which will see him on the courts again.
In other words - it's official. As official as it can be at this point.
David is going to play another season.
And we'll get to hear more about it from himself, two weeks from now (at the latest).
So there's still some more waiting ahead. But the worst of all uncertainties has been resolved.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cano: David Will Go On Playing

(Inés Gorrochategui Academy/archive)
It's been a long time - not only since David's last match but also since he talked to the media and so far, there's still no official statement from him, regarding his plans for the coming season. This lack of official news leads to the kind of situation where different people write different and often enough conflicting things about David's plans.
It's a scenario that we've had many times before and I've learned to be careful. But I've also learned to trust some journalists more than others, simply because over the years, they've proved to be reliable sources.
One of them is Quique Cano, an Argentine tennis journalist, who posted a series of tweets about David today that put together read as follows:
I'll take this opportunity to clarify a couple of things about Nalbandian. There was a rumour that David was going to have surgery on his left hip, which would've meant David's farewell. Nalbi has no such plans, at least not until his retirement. This week, he begins with the preparations for his return. Unless there's an injury, he's planning to play the Copa Argentina, a possible exhibition in Córdoba, the Australian Open and the Davis Cup.
(Sources: 1, 2 & 3)
I'd still prefer to hear the part about the Australian Open and the Davis Cup, i.e. playing another season, from David himself but coming from Cano, I'll take it as a very good sign that we'll get to see David play another year. Apart from Cano, there's also Guillermo Salatino, who says that the Australian Open 2013 will see David's return to the Tour.
Still, those tweets also raise a couple of questions. I didn't know that there were rumours about another hip surgery. Or that David might still have to have one, after retiring. And to be honest, I don't know what to make of this without knowing more. I also can't tell you anything about the additional exhibition he mentions, except we'll have to wait and see if it happens.
But another season, that sounds great - and now increasingly likely.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Month until the Copa Argentina

(event website)

There's a wide variety of websites that I use for Vamos David, sites for the current rankings (David is now at #78), for match records and statistics, for interviews and photos, or for weather updates. And I guess those are the kinds of websites most bloggers rely on.
But there's another website that I find myself using again and again, though I wish I didn't have to. That site is for calculating periods of time - usually the the amount of time that has passed since David's last match. In this case, it's now been 76 days, a good two and a half months, since his last official match of the season at Winston-Salem.
But at least it doesn't take a calculator to know how much longer we'll have to wait. A month from now to the day, the 10th anniversary edition of the Copa Argentina will kick off at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis club, home also of the Copa Claro.
For David, it's going to be the ninth time of taking part in this event, having won it on altogether four occasions. I'll be taking a look back at his Copa Argentina history ahead of this year's edition. And there's still enough time until then. In the meantime, if he wants a shot at doing well, David should start training again soon. I'll do my best to you keep you posted. Also, of course, regarding any other news.