Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Last Post of the Year

That's it - the year 2012 is over.
Well, here on this blog, at least.
Vamos David takes a break now.
But as always it'll be back in time for the new year.

So, happy holidays! From David and from me.

And I hope I'll see you all again in 2013. :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Look ahead at 2013

There were times during this season, and especially after its premature end, when I thought that I might not get to write the kind of post I'm writing now. About 2013 and another season with David.
I had to be prepared for the very worst, had to think about the future of this blog in case of such a scenario. But now I won't have to think about these things for another year. And thank goodness for that. Or rather - thanks, David.

So the difficult and overall disappointing season 2012, complete with the rather irritable David we got to see so often this year, won't go down as his last season on the Tour. I've written about it before, I think he expected a lot from himself, this year. And it didn't work out in the end.

Now another season lies ahead for David. Another year of travelling, of airports and hotels, of training and playing tournaments and Davis Cup. That is to say - first Davis Cup and then tournaments, thanks to his decision to skip the Australian Open in favour of the first-round tie. But while putting the Davis Cup ahead of everything else, including Slams and his health, isn't really new and more like the number one constant in terms of David, his scheduling and his career, the question is whether outside of the Davis Cup 2013 can be a whole new start for David. After all that happened this season, from all the first-round defeats to the incidents.

I think it can be because David seems to have done something that I wasn't sure he'd do. After the pressure he put himself under this season, he seems to be planning a different way of approaching the next. Saying that his goal is to get back inside the Top50 again. Now, some will say that he should be aiming  much higher than that. But I think he's right, being realistic. And after all, this sort of approach leaves room for pleasant surprises.

So what to expect from 2013? A season that will definitely begin and hopefully also end with the Davis Cup. We could be in for a lot more Davis Cup drama next year, with Delpo's future on the team still a big question mark. Apart from that, what is known so far is that David will play the Golden Swing, as well as Indian Wells and Miami. The rest of the calendar still is unchartered territory at this point and David's schedule will also depend on getting wildcards. And perhaps also on the future priority in his life, his first child to be born in May.

I can't say what the 2013 season will bring for David. But I think that it can be a new start for him. I hope that's what it will be. We had too much grimness this year, it's time for a change. And if David finds a way of enjoying himself on court again, who knows what might happen.

Update (21/12)
(Mario Sar/Primiciasya)
In case you're wondering what David is doing these days - last night, together with his girlfriend Victoria he attended the premiere of the comedy "Complicados" at a theatre in Villa Carlos Paz (not too far from Unquillo). They also got to meet the actors backstage. More photos on the Photo Page.

Today, he'll be in Santa Fe, to take part in a farewell game for footballer Esteban "Bichi" Fuertes.

For now, I'll leave you with this little clip here...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Look Back at David's 2012 Season

It's been a year with some very good results on the one hand, and others that were not what I was hoping for.
That's how David put it and that's one way of putting it. But I think it's safe to say that 2012 really was unlike anything David could've possibly imagined. - Or what he was hoping for.
He finishes this year ranked #82. That's the lowest year-end ranking he's had since his very first year on the Tour. After a season that once more ended with injury troubles and with only 38 matches - just like back in 2010. Though back then, he played fewer tournaments (11 to this year's 16). In short, 2012 really wasn't a good year for David, for various reasons. Here's a look back at the season that seemed promising at first but then took a very different turn.

(Mauro Alfieri/La Nacion)
The good...
Early on, it looked like this would be a good season for David. He seemed in to be in great shape and far less prone to injury than in recent years. The best example was the Golden Swing. Previously always good for another adductor tear but this time, David played all of it, and directly after the first round of Davis Cup. And making the quarterfinal at São Paulo and the semifinal at the Copa Claro he played the second best Golden Swing of his career.
But the best event by far for David this year was Indian Wells. Historically not the most successful of grounds for him (though still more so than Miami or Cincy), David battled his way through a tough draw and beat two Top10 players in Tipsarevic and Tsonga on his way to the quarterfinal. There, he lost Nadal. But although David came pretty close to beating him that match takes us straight to:

(Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
The bad...
One of David's problems this season was that that he lost those matches where he played his best tennis. Whether against Nadal at Indian Wells, against Murray at Rome, or against Isner at the Australian Open (the one and only match, involving two incidents, one concerning a challenge during it, and the other concerning water...).
Another problem can be summed up by a single number - 7. That's the number of first-round exits David suffered this year. Now, seven is not a record for David. That stands at ten and dates back to 2002. But back then he played 24 tournaments. This season, he played 16. So he went out in the first round at almost half of the events he played. And that's not the end of it...

(Sang Tan/AP Photo)
The ugly...
It was a moment of madness that made headlines around the globe. And it turned David into "the player, who kicked a line judge", complete with the inevitable internet shitstorm that followed. Some journalists, like Matt Cronin and Jon Wertheim, called for David to be banned from the Tour, while Nadal, Murray and also Cilic defended him, pointing out that the whole thing had been nothing more than an unfortunate accident.
David lost his ranking points and prize money from that week and also received the maximum fine. But nothing has ever been heard again of the criminal charges that the line judge in question filed against David.
As to why he lost it during the Queen's Club final, at a point in the match where he had just dropped his serve but led by a set and had a good chance to win - my theory you'll find here.

The aftermath
That moment of madness also proved be the turning point of David's season. After the Queen's Club final, he only got to play five more events until the injury he picked up ahead of the US Open ended his season. And at those five events he managed to win exactly one match (against Haase at Winston-Salem). At the other four, including Wimbledon and the London Olympics, David didn't make it past the first round, first losing to Tipsarevic twice in a row and then to Haas, also twice in a row.

(Daniel Garcia/Getty Images)
La Copa Davis
After three stormy years with Tito Vázquez, this year a new era in Argentine Davis Cup tennis began - with David's former coach Martin Jaite as the new captain.
The premiere took place in Bamberg, in the first round against Germany, with David first defeating Mayer and then clinching the tie for Argentina in the doubles with Edu Schwank (coming back from to sets down).
The quarterfinal tie against Croatia at the Parque Roca proved to be more of a battle. David lost his singles match against Cilic but then won the doubles, again playing together with Edu Schwank, before Delpo sealed Argentina's victory.
The most controversial tie of the year, however, the lost semifinal against the Czech Republic (the eventual champions), David had to follow from the stands. Far away from the action on court - and also far away from the drama. For once...

It's been a bad, crazy, unlucky and really difficult year for David. Not the kind of season we were hoping for and also certainly not the kind of season he was hoping for. I believe that his hopes and expectations for this season might have been a bit too high. That he was putting himself under a lot of pressure. And that this was also why he lost it at the Queen's Club.
But the good thing about this season is - he really couldn't let it end like this. Judging by his recent interviews, it seems that he wants to approach the next season in a different, more relaxed manner (except when it comes to the Davis Cup, of course). And as far as I'm concerned, that's a good idea. For what's in all probability going to be his last season.
More about that, as in a look ahead at 2013, next week.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Brief Update

(Pedro Castillo/MundoD)

Of the truly bad and unpleasant sort for David - who has become the victim of a burglary.
His home in Unquillo was broken into at around 1.30am today. Bernardo Ballero explains:
Last night, David and his girlfriend Victoria had gone out for dinner. And when they came back they realised that there had been a burglary. (Source.)

They were not at home, there was the discomfort of coming home and finding their belongings in a mess, with several of them stolen. (Source.)
The burglars, now "searched for intensively by the police" took off with "two laptops, five wristwatches and an unspecified amount of cash" (source). The material loss is one thing, the knowledge that someone broke into your home is quite another. Hopefully, David and Victoria can recover from this experience soon...

Update II (13/12)
What has been recovered is their belongings. Apparently, the police discovered several bags yesterday evening, hidden by the burglars and containing "all of those items that were stolen during the previous night" (source).

The last event of the 2012 season is over, the last match of the year has been played.
But while Vamos David will soon go on holiday (to return, as always, with a new look on David's birthday) for David himself the hard work starts now. As it's time to begin with his pre-season training for next year, at the Inés Gorrochategui Academy.
And apparently, he won't be alone, as this photo from yesterday shows - of Edu Schwank, training at the academy with David's brother Javier, who used to be Edu's coach and now seems to be working with him again. So David and Edu might do the pre-season together, which in that case could include some extra doubles practices for future Davis Cup duties.

But will it really take until February and the first-round tie for David to put his training to good use? I've mentioned it before, there have been rumours about an exhibition in January. In this context, David's spokesman Bernardo Ballero told news agency DPA that he has "a few commitments in Córdoba", though he didn't say when or against who. Another exhibition that could happen next year, though not until November, is a possible match between David and Rafa Nadal (source). It's not the first time that there's talk about an exhibition like that, we'll see if it takes place, this time around.
So an exhibition in January is a possibility but still hardly more than a rumour at this stage. Whereas the following piece of info from New Zealand is a bit of a surprise. As several news sites report, the Auckland tournament director is "in talks with former world No 3 David Nalbandian" (as well as with some other players) about a wildcard (source). The surprising part being that David apparently hasn't said no, right away, though you'd expect him to.

Meanwhile, the whole of Argentina (or so it seems) is going crazy about the exhibition event with two matches between Delpo and Roger Federer, taking place today and tomorrow. During the press conference yesterday, Delpo once more refused to answer any questions about his future on the Davis Cup team.
The event also includes a match between the two godfathers of Argentine Davis Cup drama: Guillermo Vilas and José Luis Clerc. Thirty years ago, their relentless feuding ruined their chances of winning the title (see post). Now Clerc has called for unity among the current players, telling them to "embrace each other". And both Vilas and Clerc have offered to help the Davis Cup team (source). What the AAT and Martin Jaite will say to that - we'll see.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Last Event of the Year

It's always nice to play against him and there's always some entertaining stuff that happens.
That's what Nicolas Almagro said after his 7-6(6), 6-4 victory over David on Saturday, a match during which some entertaining stuff did indeed happen, from spectacular rallies to many a laugh the two of them shared on court. The clip above (if it doesn't show or play go here) includes a couple of those moments, as well as Almagro, adding that in his opinion, David is a "top player" and that the "talent he possesses is incredible". Still, Almagro proved to be too strong for David on Saturday, and he was also too strong for Pico in yesterday's final (which Almagro won 7-5, 6-2).

(Mauro Alfieri/La Nacion)
So no final for David this time around but the two matches he got to play were still a nice and conciliatory ending for what was a rather difficult season. And after his not very successful and increasingly grim performances in the second half of the year, and the uncertainty concerning the next, it was great to finally see him enjoying himself on court again. That's what I'll take from this year's Copa Argentina and I hope that's what he'll take from it, too.

Last but not least, you may remember this kind of interview from Roland Garros where they did the same thing, with the players answering questions in the car, on their way to the stadium. And here's David, on his way to the BALTC, not nervous because he's going to play but because he's in the back seat (as he says)...

Playing in Argentina means playing at home, enjoying to play in front of his home crowd, and the crowd enjoys it too because they don't get than many chances to watch the Argentine players live.
He has many ("muuuchos") favourite tournaments. It always depends on how you play and on the results, all of that plays a role. But the greatest tournaments are the Grand Slams, Melbourne, Paris, London, New York. Slams are just spectacular.
He decided to become a tennis player when he was still very young and that has shaped who he is. He chose it because his family played tennis and because he liked it.
Asked to pick a player, David goes for Roger Federer, who's "the greatest", the ideal player and a simply a "crack".

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Copa Argentina - David Is Back

Update II
It was an entertaining match with some spectacular rallies, as well as lots of banter and laughs shared by David and Nicolas Almagro. But in the end, his Spanish buddy was too strong for David. So Almagro won the match 7-6(6), 6-4 and that means the Copa Argentina is over for David, who will now soon begin with his pre-season training for next year.

Edit: More on Monday.

(Cancha Llena)

After the heavy rains on Thursday and the last-minute addition of an extra session on Friday, the stands were not exactly packed, yesterday. But those who were fortunate enough to spend the afternoon at the BALTC not only got to see David's return, they were also treated to what was by all accounts a great perfomance from him. Earning him a 6-1, 7-6(4) victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Today, in his second match at the Copa Argentina, David will face Nicolas Almagro. And since Almagro defeated Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-3 last night, the winner of their encounter will advance to the final (against either Pico or Gilles Simon). But most importantly - today we'll finally get to see David play as this time there's going to be a stream.

Here's a clip with a couple of points from yesterday's match and a happy David, saying in his post-match interview that this is a great start for him after such a long time, that he's already focusing on the next season and that playing in Argentina and experiencing the support from his home crowd always means a lot to him.

A few words from David, after his match yesterday:

He feels great, it's a difficult stage of the year for the players, with this season over and the pre-season for next year about to begin, so they're all a bit tired. But exhibition matches are never really as exhausting as real matches. It was a nice match against a difficult opponent, who plays fast and has very flat strokes. That makes it difficult to find your rhythm. But all in all it was a good match and he's feeling good.
- And hopefully, he also will, today.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Copa Argentina - The Day of David's (Delayed) Return

Update II
Over three and a half months after his last official match (against Alexandr Dolgopolov) David has won his first match at the Copa Argentina, defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1, 7-6(4).
More tomorrow, when it'll also be time for David's second match against Nicolas Almagro.
And for that there will be a stream.

(event website)

Bad news: David's match is no longer listed on LiveScoreHunter.
Edit: Apparently, there won't be a stream for it.

It wasn't really the best start for the 10th anniversary edition of the Copa Argentina yesterday: Torrential rainfalls in Buenos Aires drowned the schedule for the first day of play and with it David's match, forcing the organisers to add an extra afternoon session to be played today.

It's not the first time that this happens, as the photo above shows. Back in 2009, it was the Saturday matches that fell victim to bad weather. And in the end, David had to play two matches on Sunday, his second match of the group stage (against Gaudio, see above) at noon and then the final against Baghdatis in the evening (report here).

Today, however, David will only have to play one match, against Alexandr Dolgopolov (who will have to play two matches, just like Charly Berlocq). His first in three and a half months, and that makes it difficult to know what to expect. And it remains to be seen how seriously David and Dolgopolov will take this match. But in any case it's great that he's finally back again.

Today's afternoon session will begin at 5pm local (8pm GMT/3pm EST) with the match between Pico and Charly Berlocq. After that, it'll be David's turn, so his match will start at around 7pm local (10pm GMT/5pm EST). And there'll be no weather worries today, as the forecast predicts perfect playing conditions - for a hopefully great, though delayed, first day of the Copa Argentina, and for David's return.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Copa Argentina - David's Return Delayed

(Sergio Llamera)

106 days after playing his last official match of this season, against Alexandr Dolgopolov at Winston-Salem, today was supposed to be the day David would finally play a match again, once more against Alexandr Dolgopolov but this time at the Copa Argentina.
That was the plan.
But what got in the way was - the weather.
Due to heavy rains (see photo by Pico) there won't be any tennis at the BALTC today.
And today's matches have been postponed until tomorrow (source).
They will now be played during an additional day session, starting at 5pm local.
For David, this means that his match will probably take place around 7pm local (10pm GMT/5pm EST).

So David will return, 107 days after playing his last official match - tomorrow.
I'll be adding a couple more things to this post, to pass the time...

- Here we go.
First of all, two new Topper Copa David clips you can watch here and here.

Then there's an old and controversial topic, addressed now by someone who has witnessed what he's talking about first-hand. David and Delpo, and the Davis Cup team, in the words of Juan Ignacio Chela, who announced his retirement earlier this week.
I think what's happening between David and Juan Martin, who are the most important players... is that they're never going to be friends.
They don't love each other, that's the way it is.
According to Chela, many of Argentina's great players, including David and Delpo, are not exactly easy to get along with and "not uncomplicated". And what's missing is that the players don't talk enough to each other, don't treat each other in a straightforward manner. Though he also recalled an occasion where David was rather straightforward with him:
Once he grabbed me and told me, "if I'm going to play the doubles, I prefer to play it with Schwank". For me, that meant I was out of team. But he told me, you know? I didn't like what he said but I appreciated that.
As for David and Delpo, Chela hopes that in the future, they'll be handling the situation "like the pros they are", that they "don't get worked up about what the other does" and that they "respect each other".

Apart from that, here's an old photo I came across this week. Do you recognise everybody?


Finally, David tells an anecdote about an unusual encounter with (and for) Roger Federer:
An anecdote of mine with Federer is that once, I was in Monte Carlo, playing PlayStation with Moya, Nadal and Ferrer. The losers had to go down to the lobby in their underpants and when they did they ran into Federer and his wife, who saw them...
(Source 1 & 2)
Though he conveniently forgot to mention whether he was among those who lost that day.
So much for today, I'll see you tomorrow for David's return.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Copa Argentina Presentation

In the past, the official presentation on the day before the event was where the draw and the schedule were announced. This time, both were already released last week so it was basically "just" a normal press conference that took place at a hotel in Buenos Aires today. Out of the six players, four were present, Pico and Charly Berlocq, as well as David and his opponent tomorrow, Alexandr Dolgopolov (Nicolas Almagro and Gilles Simon arrived today).

So, another press conference for David and some more questions from journalists for him to face. In the clip above, he gets asked about the way he'll approach the next season.
The Davis Cup will be his "fundamental" goal but what happens on the Tour going to depend on continuity, on how regularly he'll be able to play and whether there'll be further injuries.
But then it gets more concrete - David says that he's planning to play "all of the South American swing" and then Indian Wells and Miami. Everything after that he still has to see about and it'll also be a matter of ranking (and getting wildcards).
So after a late start next year, and skipping the Australian Open, it's apparently a very busy schedule that David has planned for February and March - the Davis Cup first-round tie, Viña del Mar, São Paulo, the Copa Claro, Acapulco and then on to Indian Wells and Miami.

Apart from that, David also told the journalists that he has been training for several weeks and that he's ready to play the Copa Argentina (source). And it starts for him tomorrow.
His match against Alexandr Dolgopolov will be the second match of the night at the BALTC (after Pico vs Charly Berlocq). I guess the starting time will be around 10.30pm local (1.30am GMT/8.30pm EST). Whether there'll be streams - we'll find out.

Last but not least, here's a greeting from David, inviting you to the Copa Argentina.

Monday, December 3, 2012

David & The Copa Argentina - Some Memorable Moments

When it comes to David's schedule, few things are, or have ever been, certain. And not just because of injuries or the Davis Cup. But there is one event that has been part of his schedule each and every year since 2004 - the Copa Peugeot Argentina de Tenis.

Held at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, which also hosts the Copa Claro, the Copa Argentina is usually David's last event of the year, a chance to play in front of his home crowd and to simply have some fun. At this event, pretty much anything can happen, from rather serious matches (mostly in the final) to not so very serious ones, including laughs and banter between the players. But what's guaranteed is a great atmosphere and some entertaining tennis under the lights at the BALTC.
This year, the Copa Argentina celebrates its 10th anniversary. On the occasion, here's a look back at some memorable moments...

(event website)
2005 - The first title (and the first Peugeot)
It was the year Guga Kuerten and Delpo paid a visit to the BALTC, though a a short one, as both lost the first match they played (no Super Six format until 2009). It was also the year David came to the Copa Argentina as the newly-crowned Masters Cup champion. And he finished the season by winning his first Copa Argentina (with victories over Pico, Chela, and then Calleri in the final). Complete with winning the first of by now altogether four Peugeot cars. I guess it's safe to say that he was a lot more excited about the Mercedes he got for his victory at Shanghai...

(event website)
2006 - Football-tennis, deluxe edition
In tennis terms, and although it had been a great season for him, the Copa Argentina 2006 wasn't really something to write home about. David lost his first match against Nicolas Lapentti and that was it. But at least he got to take part in a very special round of football-tennis. David and the one and only Diego Maradona against Carlos Moya and Guillermo Cañas.

2008 - Making amends...
After winning the title for a second time in 2007, David's return to the Copa Argentina in 2008 was overshadowed by what had happened a month earlier
- Mar del Plata. And his controversial role in the final. Playing his first match against Chela, David initially received a frosty reaction from the crowd but then managed to win them over again by giving everything he could in this match. But it wasn't enough. David (troubled by his hip injury at the time) lost to Chela but reconciled the crowd.

(Fue Buena)
2009 - Comeback... with a bang!
Seven months after hip surgery, and after winning his first exhibition in San Juan, David made an amazing comeback at the Copa Argentina, with the crowd celebrating his return. After beating Carlos Moya (see clip above), taking a set against Gaston Gaudio was enough to reach the final against Marcos Baghdatis (see clip below). In a highly entertaining match David eventually prevailed in straight sets, winning what surely was his most unexpected of all the titles he won at this event. And prompting Baghdatis to affectionately call him a "pain in the ass" (unfortunately, that moment is not in the clip), a verdict he'd later repeat after the Washington final 2010.

In 2010, David won the Copa Argentina for a record-breaking fourth time, with victories over Chela, Marat Safin (in a not very serious but very entertaining match) and eventually Pico in the final. Last year, however, his appearance already ended after his first match, even though he won it. After a great performance against Juan Carlos Ferrero, David was forced to pull out due to knee problems.

What this year's Copa Argentina is going to bring for David, who hasn't played a match since August and will find himself up against some rather tough opponents - we'll see. But in any case it'll be great to finally see him on court again. (Fingers crossed for streams...)