Saturday, April 6, 2013

David & Horacio Win the Doubles for Argentina

This is what it was like, viewed from the stands - the return winner David hit on match point. To seal his and Horacio's 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-5, 6-3 victory in the doubles rubber and with it the 2-1 lead for Argentina after the second day of play. (Edit: A proper highlights clip you'll find here.) At the start of the match, it was cold and overcast, and it looked like there might be more rain. It also looked like Benneteau and Llodra would be too strong for David and Horacio Zeballos. But three hours later, it ended with celebrations and singing at the Parque Roca, in bright sunshine.
In David's words:
I think we played a very good match. It was incredible, the level that little by little we managed to achieve. It wasn't easy, it was a very tough match but in cases like this one you have to get things done even you don't know where you take [the strength] from.
Interviews in English with both doubles teams and both captains you can listen to here. Including David's not exactly poetical take on the weather conditions and Michael Llodra's one-sentence summary of the match: "We got set point in the third set and after that they play well."

(Sergio Llamera)
They most definitely did but it took a while. Early on in the match, there was little to be seen of the dynamic that David and Horacio can create when they play together. To me, they both looked extremely tense initially, and it didn't help that from the start, both had trouble holding serve. Even though Benneteau and Llodra weren't exactly playing lights-out doubles tennis either. On both sides of the net there were some mishaps and misunderstandings. But David was the first to lose his serve, granting the French team a 5-3 lead. And when Llodra served out the first set to love, things didn't look too promising for David and Horacio.

The second set, however, turned out to be very different from the first. While in the first set everyone (except Llodra) had struggled on serve, with various break points on both sides, now they all held serve without any real difficulties and there were no break points at all. The logical consequence was a tiebreak. And at that moment, the first small signs of the dynamic between David and Horacio appeared. They managed to raise their game in this important moment and positively raced to a 6-2 lead. The first set point they couldn't convert, on the second there was a brief controversy with umpire Carlos Ramos but then David and Horacio closed it out and took the second set 7-6(3).

(Sergio Llamera)
Still, it was the third set that would prove to be decisive. Though at first, it looked like Benneteau and Llodra were taking control again. They broke for a 3-1 lead (it was Horacio's serve but David's errors that sealed the break). And at  5-2, with Horacio serving to stay in the set, they had two set points. On the first, Llodra failed to make a return. On the second, David hit a smash straight at Llodra (but apologised afterwards, see pic). Strangely enough, from that moment on David started playing better. And the dynamic was finally there. They went on to win the next five consecutive games and eventually turned what had been a 2-5 into a 7-5.

Up two sets to one now, David and Horacio took a little bit of a break at the start of the fourth set. You could also say they were waiting for the right moment to break. That moment came at 2-2, when it was once more Julien Benneteau, who dropped his serve (for 3-2). At 5-3 for David and Horacio, it was Benneteau's turn again, only that this time he served to stay in the match. At 30-30, David set up match point with a well-timed forehand. - And then came the return winner.
(Mauro Alfieri/La Nacion)
The feeling you get when you play here is amazing. It's spectacular. There really are no words to describe how it makes you feel. I'm very happy about the victory and because Cebolla [= Onion, Horacio's nickname] played a great match. We both played an amazing match. I'm super happy.
After the match, super happy David also said that this victory is one of his most important victories in doubles (source).
Why? The answer to that question can be found in this clip here and in the song that the crowd and the rest of the team sang for David after the match:

"This is El Gringo [David's nickname] from Unquillo, who's not retiring so he can be a champion."
It's everywhere in the Argentine media, not in form of big, glaring headlines. It's more like a whisper - this might be the end. If they lose, it's over. Then this was the last Davis Cup tie for David Nalbandian...
It can still happen. With their victory today, David and Horacio did what they could to avert it. But we'll have to see what happens tomorrow in the reverse singles.
What's not going to happen is that David is going to play. Talking to the media after today's match, Martin Jaite confirmed that he intends to go with Pico and Charly Berlocq for tomorrow.
The last words I'll leave to David:
We believed in the team and that we could finish the day at 1-1 on Friday, which wasn't easy but we still got there. And now we mustn't forget that the tie is still very tough... Hopefully Pico wins so we don't have to suffer so much.
(Quotes from the post-match interview via Olé.)
(AP Photo)


  1. wow their song for David, so touching :(
    thanks for this report Julia, I was almost in tears reading it, and re-watching the match point and David closing it out with his FH winner and the crowd's reaction, I wish we VamosDaviders could be there too :)
    Really hope Pico can pull another big win and beat Tsonga! a 5th rubber would be way to stressful for Argies! and Charly!!

  2. also, Argentine crowd : so much vibe!!!! :)

  3. It was such an awesome match! I was so nervous because after winning the third I realized that they really can win that point for Argentina. The crowd was so amazing, it has to be such a great feeling! Congrats and vamos Pico!

  4. Wasn't easy to write something about this one. Because it was such a great match and just such a crazy, emotional atmosphere... :)

  5. Is it totaly clear that simon will play the 5th rubber or it can be also Benneteau? simon looked a little bit injured against monaco!

  6. If there's a fifth rubber it could be Simon or Benneteau or Llodra.