"David Nalbandian is considering the possibility of hanging up his racquet very soon." - It sounds like a line from an article, written this week. After Argentina's triumph, the amazing victory in the doubles and the song, and then the statements by Mariano Zabaleta that made the news not only in Argentina.
But actually, that line is almost a year old. It's from an article that Mira linked in the comments during David's (very short) stay at Madrid, last May.
It was around that time that David began to talk more frequently about the "final stage" or the "final steps" in his career that he was now taking. And he said that at the end of the year, he'd decide whether or not he'd play another season. A highly uncertain and therefore difficult situation from the fan perspective. And an increasingly grim and grumpy David on court as the season went on. Still, the only good thing about his terrible second half of the season was that it seemed impossible to imagine David would let his career end like this, with a disqualification and a series of first-round defeats.
In the end, David did decide to play another year. One more season. But one that would follow its own rules and that would have only one objective - the Davis Cup. At the beginning of the year, David's decision to skip the Australian Open in order to prepare on clay for a Davis Cup tie (where he then only played the doubles) mostly met with reactions that ranged from disbelief to ridicule.
Ahead of the tie against Germany there was talk about David having muscular problems again (his calf, this time), something he dismissed as just the usual soreness after a hard pre-season training.
But how hard did David actually train during the off-season? Or rather, how much training was possible?
Perhaps you'll remember it, during the last off-season, while we were waiting for news about whether or not David would play another year, a rather unexpected and somewhat disturbing piece of info appeared. Concerning rumours about another surgery on his left hip that David might have to undergo (see post).
A shocker, completely out of the blue - that's what it was at that moment. For despite all the muscular problems, all the adductor and hamstring tears in recent years, his hip had never before been mentioned anywhere as a possible or actual cause for concern.
But back then, during the last off-season, the good news eventually came that David would play another year, and after that came the Copa Argentina and his first matches in months, and nothing was heard about the rumours for a while. And it became very easy to forget about them.
Now they are back. Even if in slightly altered form. Apparently, it's not David's left hip, the one he's already been operated on, that's causing him trouble but his right one. With another hip surgery as the possible, perhaps increasingly likely consequence. But this is not something you'll find all over the Argentine press. Instead, it's a hint here, an allusion there. Like in an article published by La Nacion today.
And unfortunately, it would explain pretty much everything we've seen this season. From David skipping the Australian Open to playing only doubles in Davis Cup, and with immediate retirement looming in case of defeat. And it would also explain the matches where he seemed to run out of gas after starting really well - because the same thing used to happen in the 14 months he spent playing with his injured left hip.
Back then, in 2008/2009, David didn't lose a word about the whole thing for well over a year. I don't know if he'll say something about it, this time around. But it would explain why this season looks like it does, and why we don't know yet whether he will, or rather whether he can play other tournaments until the Davis Cup semifinal in September. And why if they lose it'll be over.