Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chronicle of a Retirement Foretold

(Reuters)




















"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.

28 comments:

  1. I just looked at Danny Miche's Twitter, and he says David is on the entry list for Roland Garros qualifying. Not that being on the list necessarily means much, but it's something.

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  2. Oh, I got the translation wrong. I thought he was saying the entry list was out. I did see it wasn't on the RG site.

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  3. That was about which Argentine players will make the qualifying entry list for RG, based on their rankings. David is one of them. But whether his name will actually be on that list we won't know until it comes out. Miche also noted that getting a WC (if David wants one) will be difficult. Though I don't even know wehther I should hope for him to play RG.
    And yeah, it makes me sad, too...

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    1. That's weird - my reply seems to be posted above your comment it was replying to, Julia. :0

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    2. Blogger does weird things sometimes... At least it displays them all, this time.

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  4. Not good news. Hope it's a rumor, but people don't make this stuff up. If it's the hip, then that explains why the word "broken" has been bandied about. It also explains why David can't play a complete match. Sad.

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    1. Yeah, it would explain all kinds of things, wouldn't it. It would basically make all the pieces fit together.
      If it's true then some of the Argentine journalists have known this for a while. With hindsight, the reactions to his recent matches were rather telling.

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  5. oh :( that's sad news :(
    hip injury again... after all he's been through...
    I think I'll have to cope with the fact that David might not get a WC in Roland Garros, looks very unlikely :(

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  6. I don't know what's going to happen with RG, whether he'll want to play it.
    We'll see when he comes back from his trip. I really hope he'll talk to the media, at least about his plans for the next months.

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  7. I imagine he's going to get pestered by them if he doesn't.

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    1. An update of the official site's schedule page would do. But a round of interviews is more likely...

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  8. Really sorry to hear this, no grandslam, but definately one of the greats in my book!! Can't feel too bad only a hand full have accomplished this in about a decade.

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  9. If its true, its terrible news, so s sad :( whenever I hear/see talk like this or rumours its like the air is trapped under my throat. But the fact is we need to hear from david to see the truth and then make a judgement and talk about RG etc. If its true then it really does make sense of everything as it means that all them times he's run out og gas etc there's an explanation. Just hoping maybe there's some good news from him but that's bein too optimistic probs.. Btw julia u know when he's back from his trip?

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  10. I don't know when exactly he'll be back. Or when/if he'll do interviews.
    The thing is, even if we don't get to hear anything about a hip problem from him that doesn't necessarily mean he really doesn't have one. He didn't say anything in 2008/9 either, until he could no longer play.
    I simply hope he can play some more events until September.

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    1. Yeh true. I agree, now its not about winning, titles or silverwares. just wanna see the sight of him a few more times this season playing on court

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  11. :( 17 wins away from 400th career win :( i really hope he can achieve that and then say good bye in piece :(

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  12. Well, I think it's something else he's hoping to achieve.

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  13. Julia, do you know what is David'd next tournament?

    I think there is a chance for him to play Estoril and Barcelona.

    I think it is very unlikely that Monte Carlo, Rome and RG provide a WC. And it is even more unlikely that David will play challengers.

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  14. I'd recommend reading the post. And the comments above.

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  15. It's not funny at all. Do you think I wouldn't prefer to believe it's simply a rough patch? But the signs are there for everyone to see. And it's not like we only just found out that he won't be playing much longer
    - he's been saying that for a while now, himself.
    And sorry, Conejazo, accidentally deleted your comment and can't restore it. But even if David still plays football with his friends, as you wrote, I don't think you can compare that to playing professional tennis.

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    1. I'm suddenly in a dark mood :(
      Comparing playing any professional sport to playing football for fun is out of this world!

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    2. He's not an invalid, after all...

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  16. Hmm doesn't sound good but actually that explains all. I know that everything has to come to an end, I would have wished him so much to win the Davis Cup and with all that now it doesn't sound like the most realistic thing... although you never know until the last point is played ;-).
    But now I understand all those rumors about a possible retirement after loosing that DC tie, oh David, of course it is sad but on the other hand he had an incredible career not every player is able to achieve. Hopefully he can play some tournaments and the Davis Cup tie and the most important enjoy the whole thing :-).

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    1. Yeah, I agree. With everything you've written here. :)

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  17. It remains a mistery if David is hiding details about his physical condition.

    The matches against Ferrer, Nadal and Niemenenn were very atypical.

    Hip injuries destroyed the career of Gustavo Kuerten and Magnus Norman. I imagine that the circuit could be very different with theses players in action. Kuerten defeated Federer in straight sets in RG, when he was already suffering from the injury and Federer was already a superstar.

    It very likely that the tie against Czech Republic will be on indoor carpet. David plays very well on carpet. The winner shall face Serbia in the final (practically impossible for the canadians to pass the Serbia All Star Team).

    I know that Delpo has personal problems with Jaite and David. However, in 2012, Delpo played, cheered with the guys and tried to help the team. Personally, I would prefer to see the guys that are supporting Argentina from the beginning (David, Charly, etc) to win the tie. However, Delpo would be an important asset to face Berdych in the super fast Czech carpet.

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  18. It wouldn't be the first time David is hiding details about his physical condition. He tends to do that when it's bad.

    During his 14 months with the hip injury in 2008/9, where he didn't say a word about the whole thing, he didn't just have horrible days and matches. There were days when it was okay, other days when the pain flared up during the match (the matches against Ferrer and Nieminen come to mind) and days when it was bad but he played anyway. The match against Nadal looked like it might belong in that category.

    The Czechs usually play their home ties on indoor hardcourt, unless they choose indoor clay but they won't against Argentina, of course.
    And Delpo would be a major help. But he has publicly and repeatedly declared that he won't play DC this year. And how peaceful it really was on the team last year could be observed in last year's SF, also against the Czechs... The conditions in this year's SF will suit David. But how well he can do will depend on what state he's in.

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