Friday, December 20, 2013

In Pictures: Happy Holidays Davis Cup Edition

(Getty Images)

















Instead of a 'postcard' here's the final instalment of the In Pictures series - David and the Davis Cup.
So I wish you all
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

I'll be back on David's birthday.
Not with a new layout this time but with my personal review/epilogue.
(To view the Davis Cup photos click "Read more" below".)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Another Award & Another TV Interview

(Terra)
Last night at La Rural (where the farewell match also took place) the Argentine association of sports journalists presented David with an award for his career in the form of an elaborately framed piece of paper - or at least that's what it looks like in this photo.

In any case David apparently had an excellent time during the four-hour show and was one of the last to leave the VIP area. He was also the only one representing tennis at the event. Delpo, Pico and Charly Berlocq were nominated in the tennis category but neither of them showed up (the award went to Delpo).

(Terra)
During his career, David was voted best tennis player several times and he also won the main award as Argentina's athlete of the year in 2005.

Last night he revealed that he has started to make plans for next year, at least for June and July...
I'm going to spend a whole month with my friends, watching the World Cup in Brazil 2014.
(Source.)

Apart from that there's also the interview David gave fellow former player Martin Vasallo Arguello for Segundo Saque on Fox Sports.
In the first part (which you can view here) he talks about having been one of the youngest, and therefore the last member of Argentina's 'golden generation' nicknamed La Legion. And it's also about the Davis Cup, which you "win when you can, not when you want to" and which depends on so many different factors.

The second part (view here) starts with David reiterating that you don't spend your whole life as a tennis player and that he wants to enjoy a much more simple and normal life now. Apart from that he has his foundation and there are other things he wants to do as well. Asked how he managed to reach such a high level he explains that already as a junior he often played with older kids, always trying to improve. He also mentions his brother Javier who travelled with him "most of his time as a junior and sometimes afterwards".

Part three (view here) is about David's often difficult relationship with the media. At the end of the day, he says, we're normal human beings and want to live normal lives as far as possible. In his opinion, the media mainly want to create headlines and sell newspapers etc so they always have to come up with something. According to the three journalists (Caporaletti, Cano and Puppo) that get interviewed, David can be rather difficult and never liked giving interviews but it's possible to get along with him. Caporaletti adds that as a journalist you have to be well prepared when you interview David, you need to know your facts or he'll correct you and be mad at you (though I have to say that in my experience, David is really, really bad with facts, numbers, dates, names of opponents etc).

In the fourth and final part (view here), Eduardo Puppo talks about the high quality of David's tennis, while Quique Cano praises his marvelous backhand and ability to read the game, and he calls him one of the greatest players to have come from Argentina. Martin Jaite makes an appearance as well, praising David's unrelenting Davis Cup spirit, his willingess to always give everything for it. And of course the last question for David has to be about the Davis Cup - does he dream of winning it maybe in a few years' time, as captain? David's reply: He wants Argentina to win it, that's what matters.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Brief Update

Update II (17/12)
Today David will receive another honorary award for his career, this time at the Premios Olimpia, the most important sports awards in Argentina, voted for by the association of sports journalists.
More about that and also about the latest TV interview (with Martin Vasallo Arguello for Segundo Saque/FoxSports; I previously linked some photos) tomorrow.



Update (11/12)
Here's a brief interview David gave ESPN, filmed at the Clarin event on Monday.
He hasn't had the time yet for a complete analysis but he thinks he had a very good career, long but also tough. That it all ended in Argentina, with Rafa and Nole, was the icing on the cake and he's happy he could finish his career like that. He's much more relaxed now and his life follows a different rhythm. Had it been up to him he would've played a little longer but the shoulder wouldn't allow it and it was in a pretty poor state after the exhibition matches.
That Rafa will play the Copa Claro in February is very fortunate and it's great for tennis in Argentina to have a player of Rafa's stature in the country again. The players and the crowd will be very excited, it's spectacular that he'll be back.
During his "ten or twelve" years of playing Davis Cup he had lots of different teammates and shared many things with them. He was able to give some of them advice, some tips to help with the job of being a tennis player. It's more than a task he fulfilled than his legacy and one he likes to remember.


(Carroll&Quinteros/Clarin)


















Last night in Buenos Aires David received another award for his career, this time from Clarin, the Argentine newspaper/news site, as part of their awards ceremony for Argentine athletes.
Apparently, David took the opportunity to say a few words about the Davis Cup. Perhaps also because Delpo was present as well (he won the main award).

Apart from that, some of you may remember the rumours earlier this year about an exhibition match between David and Lleyton Hewitt. On Saturday the actual exhibition took place, with Lleyton Hewitt and Delpo. Whereas David was at the polo, at the last of the three events that constitute the most important competition of the sport, the "Triple Corona". And afterwards he went to celebrate with the leader of the winning team, his friend Adolfo Cambiaso.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Look Back at... Shanghai 2005

(Getty Images)


























November 2005. The end of what has been a fairly decent but by no means spectacular season for David, who was ranked #9 at the beginning of it and now finds himself at #12 and too far behind in the race to qualify for the Masters Cup. So after losing the first match he gets to play at Paris-Bercy (to Tommy Haas, second round) the season is over for David. He returns home and prepares to go on holiday.
But then he gets a call from the ATP...
Well, I was at home, Cordoba. It was Monday afternoon. I was already packing all my stuff, going fishing in south Argentina. I was supposed going Tuesday morning.
(Getty Images)
Instead of going fishing David travels to Shanghai, where the first Chinese edition of the ATP's year-ending championship is going through some major line-up changes. Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick already withdrew ahead of the event. Rafael Nadal (directly before his first match) and Andre Agassi (directly after his first one) follow.
David's Red Group, however, remains unchanged after his arrival. As does the schedule and less than a week after the call David plays his first group-stage match against Roger Federer.

(Getty Images)
Going into it the match record stands at 5-3 for David, who's playing this event without any proper preparation but also without any real pressure. While Roger Federer is the #1 and currently on a 31-match winning streak but hasn't played since September due to an ankle injury.
Still, whenever these two meet, "we always play very good tennis"
- as David puts it during the press conference afterwards (transcript here).
And as is usually the case with them, the match is pretty close (highlights here). Federer catches the better start and takes the first set. Then David ups his game and wins the second but he runs out of gas in the third.
In the end, Federer prevails 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, extending his streak to 32 wins.
But despite the loss David is optimistic. After all, it was close.
In his second match in the Red Group, he's now up against a fellow Argentinean he has known since childhood days.



(Getty Images)
David and Guillermo "El Mago" Coria started playing tennis together as well as against each other when they were eight years old. As juniors, they travelled together and they also won the junior doubles at Wimbledon together. Which means, they know all there is to know about each other's games. And this often makes for long and spectacular rallies, as they both have to go to some lengths in order to outfox each other.
On clay, it's Coria who holds the upper hand but here on carpet David prevails 7-5, 6-4. And that their days as childhood friends are over you get to see at the end of the clip above.

(Getty Images)
With one win and one loss to his name David still has the chance to make the semifinal. But to finish second in the Red Group he needs another win in his last group-stage match against Ivan Ljubicic. In the following years David will suffer a series of defeats against the Croat but this time it takes him merely 68 minutes to beat Ljubicic 6-2, 6-2 (the last two games here).
It's the first truly impressive performance that David puts in this week at Shanghai and it not only grants him a spot in the semifinal but also growing attention by the media. In the post-match press conference they ask him about the his holiday plans and the ATP's last minute call. They also ask him why he's not ranked higher, what stops him. David's reply, with a smile - "motivation, sometimes". 
Another topic during the press conference (transcript here) is David's opponent in the semifinal.
Who has been hoping he'll get to face David because he likes playing against him.



(Getty Images)
- Though perhaps not this time. It's the fourth of what will eventually be a dozen encounters between David and Nikolay Davydenko, the winner of the withdrawal-riddled Gold Group. And in the first set David is able to pick up exactly where he left off against Ljubicic. Or in the words of Davydenko, "I make few mistake. He make only winners and no mistake." The result is a bagel in the first set. The second set is a bit more of a struggle. Halfway through it David drops his serve but he manages to recover the break immediately and eventually wins 6-0, 7-5.
Two weeks earlier the season seemed to be done and dusted for David.
And now he's in the final of the Masters Cup:
Well, it's good. I feel very happy, of course. I never imagined that I can play the finals tomorrow because I was out of the tournament. It's really nice to come here and playing that good again. That make me feel very comfortable on court and try to think in win the final as well tomorrow. (Source.)
In the other semi Federer makes the shortest possible work of Gaston Gaudio with a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash.
So they meet again in the final - David and Roger Federer.

(La Nacion)
And it turns into the greatest battle ever between these two...



The first two sets are very close and both go to a tiebreak. The first Federer takes 7-4. In the second David has the chance to draw level but fails to convert any of his altogether three set points. In the end, Federer wins the second-set tiebreak 13-11 and now has a two-set lead. And the outcome of this final seems all but decided. But then the match takes a completely different and unexpected turn.
David breaks Federer again at the start of the third set, like he did at the beginning of the match. But this time he holds on to the break and then even adds another one to take the third set 6-2. After that his dominance becomes even more extreme. From 0-1 in the fourth set to 6-1 and then 4-0 in the fifth David wins ten games in a row. And he's getting very close to the finishing line but as Federer will much later say about David, he tends to give his opponents a second chance.
Federer recovers both breaks until they're back on serve at 4-4. He even gets to serve for the match at 6-5 and at 30-30 Roger Federer is two points away from victory. But the next points go to David and in the end, a last tiebreak must decide.
(Getty Images)
And despite the last few chaotic games David is now in charge again and constantly ahead in the tiebreak until at 6-3 he has three match points. But he needs only one. A forehand by Federer finds the net. And David wins 6-7(4), 6-7(11), 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(3).

The Masters Cup 2005 is the biggest title David wins in his career. At an event he didn't even qualify for, initially. And the final goes down as the match he's more proud of than any other. Because of how well he played but also because of how well he managed to deal with the situation and the setbacks (full transcript of his post-match press conference here).
When I play Lleyton Hewitt in the Wimbledon finals, I was 20 years old, different. I was a little bit nervous, and I couldn't play my best. But today I think I play very good from the beginning. And then win like this, it's really incredible, the way. It's incredible. Of course, it makes me special feeling to win like this.
(Getty Images)

Friday, November 29, 2013

In Pictures V

(Getty Images)
And so, after one last week, reminiscent of the good old tournament days with its matches and press conferences, David now really is retired. I don't know about you but I'm still finding it difficult to get used to the thought.

And while David has apparently returned to the privacy of his home in Unquillo, the question is - and now?
There are some posts that I still want to write, including for the "A Look Back..." series. Plus the more general reviews I've mentioned in the comments. In short, for those very few still sticking around at this point - there will be several new posts next month.

But first of all, here's another edition of "In Pictures".
This time with eleven photos taken on eleven very happy days for David - those days when he got to pose with the champion's trophy, and not just with the runner-up plate like in this case here (Montréal 2003).
To view click "Read more" below.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

David Says Goodbye

(DyN)




















(Telam)
He wanted it to be a big party - and that's exactly what it was.
Perhaps the event in Córdoba was a bit more emotional, also because of the video messages from his family and friends.
But David's farewell yesterday was a party, with lots of joking and laughter and general mayhem. And only at the very end of the event the moment came for a bit of wistfulness and melancholy, when for one last time, David addressed the crowd.
I guess he wanted it that way.
But - from the start.

(Nicolas Stulberg/Infobae)
After both David and Rafa had entered the stadium to standing ovations from the crowd, the match itself was played a bit more seriously than the previous two. But there were several nice and entertaining rallies and a couple of occasions where David managed to outplay the world #1. Like when David managed to catch him totally off guard with a drop-shot/lob combination.
As Rafa said before the match, "he makes the most difficult things in tennis look very easy."

(EFE)
Though they played more in earnest than before there was of course room for a bit of banter and joking. And at some point David recruited a very young linesman to play in his stead. Perhaps only half-jokingly as this match must have cost an awful lot of strength. In the end, after plenty of good points, Rafa served for it at 6-4, 5-3. And after David saved two match points, Rafa converted the third.
And it was over.
The last match.
And David's career.
But then, probably also to keep that moment from getting too emotional or sad, matters suddenly took a different and rather unexpected turn.
In the form of the "medico", who appeared on court to have a look at him:



(Telam)
The set of doubles that followed, David & Pico (Argentina) versus Rafa & Nole (Rest of the World), unfortunately wasn't part of the coverage on our streams. And clips from it are scarce (there's this one and this one but that seems to be it).
But from what I've been able to gather it must have been quite a spectacle, with Rafa and Nole imitating the Bryan twins and Nole throwing in an impersonation of Maria Sharapova.
But all good things must end, as they say. And so the moment came that David might have been dreading at least a little bit.
His last goodbye to the crowd.
Here's that particular moment and his speech:



On this "extremely important day" he thanked the people for their support that he "always felt and had". He thanked them for the "happiness" they gave him and for those "great moments", when they supported him, enjoyed his matches but also suffered with him. "For a tennis player the best thing that can happen is to feel the love of the people" - he got to feel it and for him that was "spectacular".
He thanked Pico, Rafa and Nole, "excellent players and excellent guys", for being there for his farewell and added that it's great to have the #1 and #2 in the world as guests in Argentina. For that he thanked Rafa and Nole again.
Then of course David thanked his family, his team and everyone, who was part of it over the years. But at the very end he gave special thanks to Diego Rodriguez, who was with him for "almost ten years, during the good times and the bad". And although it was his last match he said he hopes that it won't be the last he has seen of him.
And then David decided that it was enough, that he had said all he wanted to say.

But afterwards, there was one last press conference to get through.



"There's a bit of sadness now but you don't spend all your life as a tennis player. These are stages that come and go. Now it's happening to me, tomorrow it'll happen to somebody else."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Day of David's Farewell

(DyN)
Update
That was it.
The last singles match of David's career.
This time Rafa prevailed 6-3, 6-4.
Not that it really matters.
The doubles with Nole and Pico wasn't broadcasted/streamed, unfortunately.

So this was really it...

All about David's farewell tomorrow.




(Getty Images; montage by VD)













For the last few years, this was how every post about David's next match began here on Vamos David
- with matching pics of him and his respective opponent. Today, I decided to make another set.
For old times' sake and because it's the last opportunity I'll get...

Today, David bids farewell.
To the Argentine crowd, to his fans, to his fellow players and to his career as a tennis player that has shaped his life so far.
These last few days, during the press conferences David often talked about how there are different stages in everyone's life.
And for him, a new one will begin tomorrow. But today, one last time he'll walk onto the court. To play a last match against Rafa and then also a bit of doubles with Nole and Pico.
Only then will this stage, this chapter of his life be closed.
And hopefully, it's going to be the big party David wants.

The event itself is scheduled to begin at 4pm local. TV coverage already starts at 3.30pm local (as you can see on the poster).
But while we got lucky with the official streams for the last two events, this time we'll have to rely on 'unofficial' ones.

Therefore: If you find a stream please link it in the comments.
Edit: So far, we have three working streams, links in the sidebar.

P.S. The stadium at La Rural 2 days ago:

(Infomedia Argentina)

Edit: And this is what it looks like today:

(@marcos_z)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Adios Córdoba


It was a great event, it was a wonderful display of tennis from Rafa and from David, who played a lot better than he did against Massu. And in the end there was of course the "right" winner.
As well as a trophy ceremony with a very special guest.
A worthy goodbye to David's home crowd.

Edit:
Photo Page has been updated.
A large gallery with photos you can view here.
Part of the match on YouTube here.
And tomorrow... is the big day.
















(All photos by EFE.)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

David & Rafa in Córdoba

(Olé)












(EFE)
Update
It was a "unique feeling" for David and a very nice match for everyone who got to watch it. And in the end, David won 6-4, 7-6(6). But what really mattered is that everybody involved had a good time. Including little Sossie, there on David's arm during the trophy ceremony (yes, they had one).
More tomorrow...

Edit: Here's a photo from that ceremony.
Post etc coming tonight (European time).


(Rafael Nadal/FB)




















And David and Rafa also in Unquillo, to which somewhere between another press conference and another tennis clinic (not open to the public this time) they paid a visit, as the photo above shows.
But the main part of the action today will of course happen just a little further south, in the city of Córdoba, at the Orfeo Superdomo. Which will look very different from the way it does in the photo below.

(La Voz)
The good news is - we have an official stream.
This time in the form of the free streaming site by TV Publica, the channel that broadcasts the event in Argentina.
So, what to expect from this exhibition match? I guess last night we got an idea of how unevenly matched a retiring David and the world #1 will probably be. But I'm sure this match will still be a lot of fun, for David and Rafa, as well as for David's home crowd.

To pass the time, a few impressions from the inevitable press conference today. David talks about how great it is to have Rafa in Argentina and to play these last two matches with him, Rafa talks about his long absence from the Tour and his comeback, and about how much he loves tennis, and then David gets asked again about the current Davis Cup dispute but once more he refuses to get entangled in it. - Some things have already changed.

Last Night in Santiago

(Agencia Uno)


















(Reuters)
After the last rally of the match, and of Nicolas Massu's career, the two of them met and hugged at the net. And then Massu said something to David. What exactly it was only David knows but perhaps Massu had some words of encouragement and advice - for someone who'll very soon find himself in the same situation.
It was a nice match that David and Nicolas Massu played at the Movistar Arena in Santiago yesterday. And it really was a match, and not just a bit of hit and giggle. Except when David almost hit the Chilean president with a ball and was "reprimanded" with a smile and a wag of the presidential finger.
But it also became clear that David wasn't lying about the problems with his shoulder. I thought it became clear that he has made the right decision.

So, after Santiago yesterday, tonight David will be playing in front of his home crowd in Córdoba. And on court with him will be Rafael Nadal.
More later, ahead of the match. And more photos on the Photo Page.

(Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

David's Hello & Massu's Goodbye

Update
Nicolas Massu has won his farewell match 6-4, 6-2. And David almost hit the Chilean president with a ball (accidentally). But a good time was had by all.
More tomorrow, and also David's home game in Córdoba.

Today, David's Farewell Tour begins at the Movistar Arena in Santiago de Chile with Nicolas Massu's farewell match. The two of them are the "support act" for Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic so to speak, who will play afterwards. I think I read somewhere that there's also going to be a bit of doubles (like there will be on Saturday in Buenos Aires).

How seriously the two of them are going to take this match, and how well David will be able to play, over seven months after his last regular match and with his dodgy shoulder - we'll see.

But for that we'll need a stream...
Edit: Looks like there's an official stream on Movistar TV (starts 8.45pm local). Here's hoping it doesn't only work in Chile.
Edit II - It works. Not only in Chile.


If you find a stream for the match please post it in the comments. Thanks.

In the meantime:
Earlier today, David, Nicolas Massu, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and junior player Christian Garin met Chilean president Sebastian Piñera. Here's a look:

Two Press Conferences & A Clinic



(EFE)
Before he could fly over to Chile yesterday first of all there was another press conference for David to get through, though one where the municipal government of Buenos Aires presented him with an award in recognition of his career.
Apart from that David talked about how much of a pleasure it is for him to have "Rafa, Nole and Pico" at his farewell match, that he's satisfied with what he has achieved in his career, that he no longer thinks so very much about the Davis Cup and that he isn't planning to become captain anywhere in the near future.

(La Nacion)
But he was asked about the Davis Cup of course and about Delpo, who not just refused to play the first-round tie (like he usually does) against Italy next year but who also sent an open letter to Martin Jaite and the AAT, complaining about the way he has been treated. David's reply with a shrug and then a laugh (2:23): "I'm an ex player."
- And no longer responsible for Davis Cup drama. He read the letter, as it was all over the Argentine press, and he finds it "regrettable" that Delpo won't play in the first round. But other than that these things are "between him [Delpo], the AAT, the captain and the players" and they "don't really concern" him anymore.
And it'll stay that way - David also made it clear that there is "no chance" that he might still play another Davis Cup doubles, as for him that chapter is closed.


After that it was on to Santiago de Chile and the second press conference of the day, though this time together with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Nicolas Massu:



Where they all had a pretty good time, it seems. David praised Nicolas Massu's "fighting spirit and guts" and called them his "legacy". He also joked around a bit with Novak Djokovic and helpfully reminded Rafa that he didn't have to speak English (at 1:21, a nice little moment).

And then, last but not least, they all took part in a tennis clinic for children:



So today, it's David and Nicolas Massu and then Nadal and Djokovic at the Movistar Arena in Santiago de Chile. More about that (including, hopefully, streams) later today, ahead of the event.

Monday, November 18, 2013

David's Farewell Exhibition Tour

(Emiliano Lasalvia/La Nacion)

















After a relaxed and fun weekend at a polo tournament (as a spectator - see photo above) it's a very busy week that now lies ahead of David. Three exhibition events, TV, press conferences, interviews...
Though this time I think he'll enjoy it, all of it, even the media attention.

Update (19/11)
A bit of David's and Rafa's TV stint yesterday:




They now travel to Santiago de Chile, where together with Novak Djokovic and Nicolas Massu they will be giving a press conference as well as a tennis clinic on Tuesday (source).
And then on Wednesday David will play the first of his three exhibitions this week:



Wednesday 20/11
with Nicolas Massu
in Santiago de Chile
8pm local (11pm GMT/6pm EST)

It'll be Nicolas Massu's farewell (he's retiring too) and the first match of the night before Nadal and Djokovic take the stage. The last time David and Massu played a match was also at an exhibition that some of you will remember - it was David's first match after hip surgery back in 2009.
Then on the following day, he'll get his 'home game', around the corner from Unquillo:



Thursday 21/11
with Rafael Nadal
in Córdoba
9.30pm local (12.30am GMT Friday/7.30pm EST)

I don't know whose idea it was to advertise Nadal as "Goliat(h)". But it's certainly not going to be a fight to the death that's going to take place indoors at the Orfeo Superdomo in Córdoba. Edit - See pic:

(Ramiro Pereyra/MundoD)












The last and biggest event, however, will happen on Saturday:



Saturday 23/11
with Rafael Nadal
& Doubles with Novak Djokovic & Juan Monaco
in Buenos Aires
4pm local (7pm GMT/2pm EST)

At a stadium with 15.000 seats that's currently being erected (see photo below) for this event, which will feature another match between Nadal and Djokovic, this is where David will say goodbye.
And hopefully he'll get his big party.

As for streams - I can't promise anything but I'll do what I can. As always, any help will be appreciated.

(Klonarte Press)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

'David Nalbandian Did Everything Right'

After David announced his retirement six weeks ago many articles, posts and commentaries were written about him and about his career. Most of them listed his best moments, some also included his worst. But there was one that took a different approach. And I think it makes a very true and important point.
Here's the article by Marcelo Gantman for La Nacion.
David Nalbandian did everything right in his career.
He did everything he could do, being David Nalbandian and not a compound of parts of other players and consequently of other personalities. Nalbandian was who he was, the sum of both the perfection and the imperfection squeezed into the same package. Just like any other top athlete.

Nalbandian's retirement was followed by journalistic outpourings and mentions on the social networks, about the player he was and the player people wanted him to be. Swiftly and spontaneously (and therefore you have to pay attention to that collective expression of thoughts) the idea came up that in a way, David Nalbandian was unfinished business. A version that was good and praised but that could've been better, the perfect example of a tennis player, able to use every corner of the opponent's court and to transform his mind into a radar so that nothing could escape him. But obviously not everybody was satisfied with that.

There's a huge problem with accepting sports stars as they are, or as they were, instead of comparing the original to an ideal. Since the imaginary version cannot be likened to facts it's always going to look better. But it is not better. It has never been because it never existed.
David Nalbandian managed to win the Masters Cup in Shanghai in 2005 after he had already packed his bags to go fishing with some friends. "I'm only going to take the trip if you guarantee that I get to play," he told the ATP. They did guarantee a place for him in the draw and Nalbandian responded by triumphing over Roger Federer in the final. Only a player accustomed to switching back and forth within days between relaxing and then focusing on tennis again could make something positive out of this unexpected situation. It's difficult to imagine Rafael Nadal pursuing some sudden objective like that and without making it part of a meticulously planned and followed program. And when Roger Federer amended his schedule for 2013, in a desperate move after his early Wimbledon exit, he only managed to deepen the crisis with appearances in Gstaad and Hamburg that were not planned well in advance. Improvising doesn't work for everybody.

There's always something lacking with everyone. It's the margin between evident perfection and imperfection that flirts with the abyss. What changes is the space you occupy on this slippery slope. Champions shrink the margin of error until we believe that there is none. Why did Pete Sampras never manage to win Roland Garros? How much more could've John McEnroe achieved, had he not spent so much energy on arguing with umpires and if he had eaten more pasta and less hamburgers? And what if Ivan Lendl hadn't been so obsessed with Wimbledon and would've chosen a more relaxed way of trying to win it? It's impossible to know these things. Because had it been that way, they would not have been who they were.

"Everybody has their best way of doing things and it works only for them. Nole has his way, Rafa has his and Federer has his one as well. I have been criticised for mine because I don't belong to those who think that you can be a better player if you rest somewhere in chair instead of going bungee jumping or doing something else I enjoy doing," Nalbandian commented in an interview for the book 'Héroes Igual", two years ago.

Nalbandian's career began in 1998 and ended in 2013. Already prior to that, having been an outstanding junior, he put in plenty of travelling, had done so since he was fourteen years old. As a professional player there were both voluntary and involuntary exits that he took from the circuit. The deliberate ones happened because his way of competing included the need to return to Unquillo, to light the coals for a barbecue and talk about how things were going. The involuntary ones had to do with his injuries and surgeries. This way of doing things and of competing, though certainly imperfect, was what allowed him to be consistent in his approach to professional tennis. Nalbandian didn't burn out along the way. He didn't bust his head, sitting trapped in business class, overwhelmed by his experiences. Tennis players go through those kinds of moments.

Nalbandian played, won and lost, always knowing where the emergency exit was that he could take in order to regroup and return with motivation. That was his way of doing things and it was the reason he survived until his shoulder no longer allowed him a dignified serve. A paradox, an unlikely Achilles' heel for a player with the best return of serve we've seen here in these parts.
(All photos by Getty Images.)

Update
David's farewell party in Buenos Aires will not only consist of a singles match with Rafael Nadal, afterwards they will also play a doubles together against Novak Djokovic and Pico (source).

P.S. Post about next week's exhibitions, start times etc. coming on Monday.
Here's a photo of the court at La Rural, installed yesterday:

(Pablo Comba)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In Pictures IV

 


















Update

A bit of footage of David, training for and talking about the exhibition matches you can watch here.
He hopes those events are going to be a big party, it's spectacular that he gets to play his farewell matches against Nadal but he doesn't see himself coaching another player or becoming Davis Cup captain anywhere in the near future.


UpdateII
More training footage (14/11):




(Getty Images)
About a week to go now until David's exhibitions with Rafael Nadal in Córdoba and Buenos Aires. And exactly one week until the event in Chile - where according to Nicolas Massu, David will also be making an appearance.
Though there's still nothing to be heard about any such plans from David or his camp. Even if he has given a couple of interviews lately, for Argentine tennis magazine Revista Grip and another TV interview on the channel Telefe. And I think it's safe to say that he seems very relaxed, much more so than used to be the case when doing interviews.
Apart from that David also agreed to another email Q&A, in English this time. You can read it here.

In any case, the court for the event at La Rural in Buenos Aires will be laid on Friday and from Monday on David could take up training there (source).

And finally, here's another round of photos.
This time it's all about varying degrees of grumpiness...