Ahead of the weekend, everybody, including both team captains, expected this to be very close and a dramatic tie that wouldn't be decided before Sunday. But it was all to turn out completely differently and in the end, David and Horacio Zeballos secured the third point for Argentina already in the doubles. Just like last year, by the way, when both teams met in Bamberg, also in the first round.
In the quarterfinal, which will take place after the Masters in Miami, Argentina's next opponent will now be France (who beat Israel 5-0). The last encounter between these two nations took place in the semifinal 2010, held in Lyon. And the less said about that weekend, the better.
But back to this weekend. And the turn of events that no one could foresee - Philipp Kohlschreiber having to pull out due to injury. Davis Cup ties normally don't get decided in the first rubber but in this particular case, you could say that's what happened, with the German team not only losing its best player but also losing hope after his withdrawal. Still, that's not to take anything away from Charly Berlocq and from Pico, who both did an excellent job against difficult opponents, in very difficult conditions. Just like, though they had it easier yesterday, Horacio Zeballos and David.
A bit of general rustiness, a somewhat shaky shot selection - the usual signs of a comeback after a longer pause. Something else that was noticeable is that David has put on a few kilos again. What that means for his movement on court the next few tournaments will have to show.
Still, all in all, and despite a rather wobbly serve performance (which also had to be expected perhaps), it was a good comeback from David, and it was a return in style - scoring the decisive victory.
For my part, I still think that David and Edu Schwank is the best doubles Argentina can muster (Edu was courtside, supporting the team). But if Edu can't play then Horacio is definitely the best alternative.
Here's a clip of David, getting interviewed directly after the match:
He's very happy, they played a great match. It's been a great week with the guys on the team, training together though it was tough because of the heat. But now he's super happy and the support from the crowd is always impressive, it's been an unforgettable week with the guys.
Asked, humorously, whether he'll still be playing in April (i.e.the quarterfinal), David replies he has to ask the captain, who, off camera, says yes. So that's what he'll do, it's a great team they have and hopefully they'll be at their best for the next tie. As for the possibility of facing relegation, he's read a lot about that this week but they've shown that the team that was present is very strong, playing at home and they have great players.
If you think that the last part of the interview contains a hint at a player, who wasn't present, well, then you're right. And that's not the end of it. At the post-match press conference, David, Horacio and Jaite were asked if they had received any personal greetings or congratulations from Delpo (who posted a tweet to that end). Jaite and David said no, Horacio added, "from who? - no" (you can watch that little scene here). Apart from that, in the locker room after the match, the whole team apparently sang a couple of newly made-up songs, celebrating their triumph but also making fun of Delpo, the one who "watched it all on TV" (source). All of which probably doesn't increase the chances of Delpo, returning to the team. Even though Martin Jaite keeps saying that this is what he'd like to see happen.
Last but not at all least, ahead of the match yesterday, five Argentine players received the ITF's Commitment Award for having played 20 or more Davis Cup ties. From left to right with their awards in hand: Ricardo Cano (23 ties), the great Guillermo Vilas (who played a record-breaking 81 matches in 29 ties), David (now at 25 ties), Javier Frana (20 ties) and José Luis Clerc (55 matches in 22 ties).
For David, yesterday's doubles was Davis Cup match number 49. It was the 20th doubles rubber that he played for Argentina, with 7 different partners over the years, and the 15th that he won. Though the most important of them all he lost. Out of the 29 singles rubbers David has played over the years he won 23.
A list that includes matches he should've never played because he was injured but that didn't stop him.
David and the Davis Cup - it's an obsession and sometimes, it's sheer madness. And in his more pensive moments he'll admit as much. But it's also what has kept him going.
David now gets a week off ahead of playing his first tournament of the season at São Paulo (where he'll play singles and also doubles together with Rafa), before heading back to Buenos Aires for the Copa Claro and then on to Acapulco.
Some busy weeks ahead, for him and for us.