|(Mauro Alfieri/La Nacion)|
Two days from now it'll begin. On Saturday, captain and vice-captain, players and training partners and everybody else belonging to the Argentine team will meet at the Parque Roca. And the Davis Cup week, leading up to the quarterfinal tie against France will be under way.
Whether David is in Buenos Aires at the moment, or whether he's taking a short break back home in Unquillo, I can't say. In the meantime, here's Argentina's captain Martin Jaite, giving his thoughts and expectations concerning the upcoming tie. And just like his players (in the previous post) he expects the home advantage to be an important factor - for what's nevertheless going to be an extremely difficult tie.
It's important that we play at home. Because if we had to go to France we probably wouldn't play on clay and our chances would be even smaller. They have a better team than we do but we can fight. We'll have a a chance in all five matches. In Davis Cup, there's always plenty of surprises. The players will have to be at their best level or even better than that. If we don't play our best we won't have a chance.And Jaite is of course very much aware of the fact that on paper, i.e. going by the rankings, France has the much stronger team...
What worries me is the quantity and the quality of players they have. Apart from that it's a team with a long history in Davis Cup. They like to play it and they're united as a team.It would be the first time that an Argentine team beats a French one in Davis Cup - the record so far: 0-5. Which was also the scoreline when they last met (semifinal 2010). But now it's time to look ahead at the quarterfinal and at the strategy for the tie. And some things have already been decided.
They have players with better rankings. But regardless of the level of each player I hope that it's going to be a close tie. They are the favourites but we can win it.
Two things are practically certain. Nalbandian and Zeballos will play the doubles and Pico as well is definitely going to play, his place [as one of the singles players] is guaranteed. We'll see what happens in training. Anyone can play [the remaining] singles rubbers, but the doubles is fixed, David and Zeballos is the strongest team that we have.In other words, it could be either Charly Berlocq or Horacio Zeballos, playing against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday, while Pico will be up against Richard Gasquet (unless something unforeseen happens).
The same Pico, who apparently still has problems with his wrist and who still hasn't won a match on the Tour this season. But, as Jaite points out, the Davis Cup has its own rules.
We play Davis Cup, that's different from the circuit, and Pico always played well for us. Against Germany, maybe Charly stole his thunder with his heroic victory over Kohlschreiber but Pico's match [against Mayer] was very important and he played very well. And now he's playing better than he did back then, even if he won't come here with a lot of confidence. We saw him play at Miami, we talked to him in the locker room and although he lost [in the second round to Ramos] he played well. He'll be very motivated.Charly Berlocq on the other hand retired after a couple of games at Miami. But according to Jaite there's no reason to worry about him.
Berlocq is fine, he retired in Miami as a precaution, with the Davis Cup in mind. He [his knee, that is] is getting treatment now but he'll be fit for the tie.So, will they all be fit and ready for the huge challenge that's going to await them against France?
Being part of the Davis Cup team gives you strength. And it gives you motivation. The victory over Germany gave us strength as a team. In Miami we had dinner together, everyone was there and we spent a lot of time together. Things like that show you that we're on the right track.Finally, a few words about David from his former coach...
David is going through those moments [of his career] now, leading up to retirement. His game is fine and physically it works until he runs out of gas. We'll have to see what happens but he's in a better state now than he was against Germany.I've said it in the comments section - let's enjoy the sight of David, playing tennis while we still can.
(Sources 1, 2 & 3)
This might be his last Davis Cup tie. I really hope that it won't be but well...