Friday, March 22, 2013

David Dominates then Disintegrates against Nieminen

I played well at times. Had I played better throughout the whole match I would've won but that wasn't the case. I made things difficult for myself.
David's summary of yesterday's match and his defeat at the hands of Jarkko Nieminen, who won 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. It's relatively normal for David to lose the first match he gets to play in Miami, this is already the sixth time that it has happened. But what separates this defeat from his other early exits at this event is how it happened. And that it happened after David was leading by a set and a double break.
Obviously it's difficult sometimes but still, a match like this shouldn't slip from my hands the way it did. I think it's a mixture of everything. Each time it gets more difficult, I think that's normal. But yes, defeats like this one here hurt a little bit.
A brief chronology of events. After a slow start and getting broken right away (for 2-0 Nieminen), David picked up himself and his game immediately and went on a tear. Helped by a poor serve performance from Nieminen in this set, David won the next six consecutive games and consequently took the first set 6-2.
Carrying the momentum over to the next set doesn't always come easy to David but in this case, he extended his streak to a total of nine games in a row, including two further breaks in the second set. Up 6-2, 3-0 he seemed in control of the match but that was the moment David began to struggle on serve. After a deuce battle and a couple of game points he didn't convert, Nieminen recovered one of the breaks for 3-1 - and the momentum began to shift. At 4-3, David got broken again (once more after he had a game point) before dropping his serve for a third time in this set when serving to stay in it, with Nieminen taking it 6-4.
Early on in the third set, David two further chances to break (at 1-1 and 3-1) but couldn't convert either. Whereas Nieminen managed to get the decisive break for 3-1, carried it through the set and eventually served out the match to love.

Going by the highlights clip above (and by what those people said, who saw it) it was a very entertaining and also very intense match. With plenty of great rallies, plenty of not so great serving from both but also some great ball-striking. And with David, dominating proceedings and playing really well - until he once more proved unable to keep up this level and eventually finished the match basically at the end of his tether. A pattern that in its most drastic form we got to see against David Ferrer at the Copa Claro.

A defeat that "hurts a little bit" and that's also going to send him further away from the Top100 and the kind of ranking he'd need for a direct entry at the Slams. So for the time being, David's schedule will depend on the organisers:
For now I'm asking for wildcards, I'll have to see if I get them. I received a wildcard for this event [that in the end he didn't need] and I hope that I'll get to play some tournaments ahead of Roland Garros.
In the interviews I posted yesterday, David still gave the impression that he doesn't really care whether or not he gets to play Roland Garros. After the match, however, David suddenly talked about the possibility of playing qualies at Roland Garros (source).
Which makes me think he knows that this is going to be the last chance he'll get to play there. We'll see if it'll really come down to playing qualies for David (who insisted after the match that he's not injured and doesn't have any real physical problems, except for the normal niggles every player has to deal with).

But before we get to the European clay-court swing (whatever it's going to look like), the bigger and more important event for David coming up now is of course the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against France.
I have to keep working, keep getting better and try to be ready for the Davis Cup, which is up next. (Source.)
- Two weeks from now to the day, at the Parque Roca. Last night in Miami, the team got together for the first time ahead of the tie, David, Pico, Charly Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos as well as Martin Jaite and Mariano Zabaleta. And they will have had plenty of things to talk about, especially concerning the two singles players. While Pico hasn't won a match since the last tie, Charly Berlocq retired after 11 minutes on court yesterday, though as a precaution, as he confirmed afterwards. As he's not injured but has problems with tendinitis in his left knee and therefore didn't want to be taking any risks (source).
All in all not an ideal situation, ahead of this very difficult tie... More in the coming days and weeks.


  1. I did wonder if Charly's retirement might have been towards the precautionary end of the scale - having come so late in his career to Davis Cup teamdom I believe it means a lot to him. Perhaps he's caught a bit of David Cup disease. ;) Knee trouble isn't a new thing for him.

    To be honest, I can't see Argentina having much chance against France even if they had a fit Charly, an in-form Pico and an unwobbly David. (Is Edu back for this one?) And if (when) they have lost the tie, David is surely going to reassess what he wants to do in the coming months. The arrival of the baby may also change things for him in a way he's not predicting at the moment.

    So I feel that the second half of the year for David is going to be even more of a case of "Watch this space" than guessing what he will do based on things he's saying at the moment.

    I'm hoping that he will want to play Wimbledon one last time even more than Roland Garros, because of how well he did there at the other end of his career, and I think he has a better chance of a wildcard there. And if he plays Wimbledon, he will play that most important of events... Boodles! I have my tickets already. :)

  2. Though if I were him I'd give Queen's a miss. ;-)

  3. If he plays Boodles he might also play Wimbledon, you mean. ;)

  4. Well, yes... if there's only one non-DC event he wants to play all year it must be Boodles, of course. ;)

  5. Boodles forever! :)
    And nope, Edu won't be back for this tie. It'll be David & Horacio again.

  6. So the end you always wonder, when you will be left can feel the swan song coming sooner rather than later...

  7. It's the way of the world. Players have careers and then at some point those careers come to an end.

  8. Hey guys,

    I was shocked by this match. I do not know if David's problem is physical (some injury kept in secret) or motivational. I still hope to see some nice presentations.

    But I was surprised by a recent positive fact.

    Last year I heard a lot of negative comments about James Blake. Some people really said bad stuff about him. They said that the guy was finished.

    Years before, the guy recovered himself from a serious physical injury and become n. 4 in the world. He won the Davis Cup.
    Then he had a severely drop in the rankings and the former tennis player Shriver disrespected him on court at Wimbledon 2010.

    Now it seems that Blake is winning matches again. He smashed the american promiss Harrison, and won a match against BEnetteau, who is a tough player.

    Man, that is what I like in tennis. Come backs! Like Agassi, Ivanisevic, Haas.

    Vamos David! Fuerza!

  9. I think, if by chance David is still playing next year, he should just skip Miami. The "curse" is just too much to overcome. I see Nieminen waxed Klizan yesterday, so perhaps the Finn is playing really well. Competing against France in two weeks is an ominous thought. Horacio "The Giant Killer" may be Argentina's most in-form player right now.

    1. I thought Charly played really well at IW (reached R4). I saw some of his match against Murray, where he served for the first set but then ended up losing in straights. Still, that first set was about as good as I've ever seen him play - though I haven't seen him play all that much, I'll admit it.

  10. About the Davis Cup. Don't really know the strategy Argentine will have with this tie. But David could cope with most of the french guys in the past. I know that he is not 100% fit and not in the form he was before. But the french team will arrive with more fatigue as Tsonga, Simon and Gasquet are still at Miami. Also David can be very unpredictable and a game like this could really motivate him and do a surprise. But hey... this is just me. I would go for Davids unpredictability rather than going with a higher ranked player. Unfortunately I think David will only play doubles.

  11. If Jaite decided to let David play singles on the first day then he'd have to play against the French #1, i.e. Tsonga. And he'd run the risk of David tiring himself out ahead of the doubles (or worse, getting injured). I don't think that's a risk Jaite will be willing to take.
    Usually, you might expect him to consider David for a possible fifth rubber but in this case, I doubt that it'll come to that. In any case, as his former coach I think Martin Jaite knows exactly what can or cannot be expected from David.

  12. I don't think Jaite will let David play a single rubber, especially not in the 1st day. And I think even David knows that. (though he wishes he could play every match).
    Charly played a good match against Murray in IW, him retiring from Miami is that he wants to be 100% for DC, it could be interesting against Tsonga, we can be sure he'll try his best.

  13. Let's see what happens. It's clay and the french players will be tired. Saw the first set of Tsonga with Nieminen. Nieminen started brightly (some sharp returns and very good serves and forehands), but lost his sharpness as the game went on (following 4 or 5 consecutive return misses). It helped Tsonga focus rapidly, seeing that Nieminen started so well... no joking around. I come to the conclusion that David was a bit unlucky playing the first round with the inform Nieminen. I still think that David is still a top 30 player (with his present fitness and inconsistency). He just needs to string some wins to get a bit of confidence back. Maybe playing some 250 tournaments? Morocco or USA clay tournaments come up after the Davis cup tie. With a good run he can qualify for Monte-Carlo.

  14. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. The entry list for a tournament closes 6 weeks ahead of the event itself. As I've said before, for the time being (i.e. clay-court swing including RG) he'll depend on WCs. And as he said before, he's taking things a lot easier now with his scheduling, and he'll play fewer events.
    And by the way, I saw the match yesterday but my conclusion would be a different one. Sloppy start from Tsonga but once he got his act together Nieminen didn't stand a chance. At least Tsonga and Gasquet won't have much time to prepare on clay, that's the good thing about their success at Miami.

  15. @Julia
    Thanks for the clarification, didn't know that the entry list closes 6 weeks ahead.
    Regarding the Tsonga-Nieminen match I agree that Tsonga had a difficult start, but Nieminen had some very good returns and forehands, having break points on the first two games of Tsonga serve (fists serve didn't work very well in those first 2 games). After 2-2 Nieminen had a series of bad misses on return and lost his composure (my opinion). After that I saw Tsonga starting to dominate and didn't watch the game anymore.
    Anyway... I'll have to start watching tennis for the sake of it and not for seeing David play. I won't get that too often in the near future apparently.

  16. Nieminen was only able to hit those returns and get into a good position during the rallies because Tsonga was playing and especially serving so poorly. I mean, he barely got any first serves in during those first few games. And Nieminen is no hothead, who loses a match because he can't get over some shots that he missed.
    As for watching David play, all I can say is that we should enjoy it while we still can.

  17. Tommy Haas' victory over Djokovic is unbelievable. How would we expect Haas to be within the top 15, while Nalby struggles to win even 1 match in a tournament these days, sigh...

  18. At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious (the broken record is apparently not enough): David is not Tommy Haas.
    And Tommy Haas is the absolute exception, not the rule.

  19. Talk about beating dead horses and missing a sailing ship!! Please, stop comparing David with Tommy Haas.