Thursday, January 31, 2013

Argentina vs Germany - The Draw

In case you always wanted to know what a Davis Cup draw ceremony is like (and why David tends to be half-asleep during them) I recommend the clip above. But it doesn't just show names being drawn - or rather, how one name is being drawn because that's all it takes - it also contains a brief snippet of an interview with David, who says that playing for your country isn't something you choose (or choose not) to do but an obligation that you feel. It's what they as players can give back to the crowd, in return for the undying support. And of course he hopes that they'll do this as best as they can - by winning the tie.

As for who will play which match, the speculations ahead of today turned out to be right, both on the Argentine and on the German side. But what's not going to make things any easier for the Argentine team is the order of play. Playing what's only his second tie, Charly Berlocq will try to get the team off to a good start. But that won't be easy against Germany's #1:

Friday (11am local/2pm GMT/9am EST)
Carlos Berlocq vs Philipp Kohlschreiber
They've met four times so far, with the match record standing at 3-1 in the German's favour. Charly won their only meeting on clay but that was almost seven years ago. In Davis Cup, Kohlschreiber's record is not all that impressive (9-7 in singles, 2-2 in doubles) but he's able to do well on clay, and he'll be out to prove his dedication to the German team and its new captain. In other words, this will be another really tough one for Charly in his still young Davis Cup career.

Juan Monaco vs Florian Mayer
It's a pretty terrible record that Pico has against Florian Mayer - out of their six encounters so far, Mayer won five, with four of those victories having come on clay. While Pico's only victory dates back to 2005. With his unorthodox game, Mayer is a difficult match-up for Pico, as he doesn't give him the kind of rhythm that he likes. Mayer hasn't always done well in Davis Cup but Pico was injured lately... Difficult to predict, this one.

Saturday (1pm local/4pm GMT/11am EST)
David Nalbandian & Horacio Zeballos vs Christopher Kas & Philipp Kohlschreiber
It's only the second time that David and Horacio are going to play a doubles match together. But the first was a match to remember and back then, they didn't really have any time to prepare. That first doubles match also took place in the first round, against Sweden in Stockholm 2010. Back then, they beat an experienced team - and on Saturday, they'll be faced with another one of those. Doubles specialist Christopher Kas and Philipp Kohlschreiber play together fairly regularly and they have three doubles titles to their name, the latest of which they won earlier this year at Doha. In Stockholm, David and Horacio managed to stun the Swedes with their sheer energy and determination. Hopefully, they can put in another performance like that.

Sunday (11am local/2pm GMT/9am EST)
Juan Monaco vs Philipp Kohlschreiber
It's an even match record that the two number ones have, having split their four previous meetings, with Kohlschreiber winning the last two, while Pico won the two times they faced off on clay. The question, going into this match will be how much Kohlschreiber will have left in the tank, on the third day of play for him.

Carlos Berlocq vs Florian Mayer
If this fifth rubber is a live one, which is to say - if the tie is decided in this fifth and final rubber then it remains to be seen who's going to play it for Argentina. It could be David, depending on his fitness and form. In the words of Martin Jaite:
Who is going to play on Sunday? I don't have to say it now. Saturday night we'll see how the tie is going and how we're going to end it. (Source.)
But first of all we'll see how Charly and Pico will be doing against Kohlschreiber and Mayer tomorrow. Once more, it'll be a place in the stands for David - but only for one day, this time.

(Sergio Llamera/

Coming Soon: Davis Cup Draw


So far, this is the only photo I've been able to find from yesterday's official dinner - the traditional rookie speech, delivered by Germany's Tobias Kamke. With the Argentine table listening attentively and with David a bit difficult to make out behind Mariano Zabaleta.
More photos, hopefully also of David, getting his award when the AAT publishes them.

Apart from that, it's draw day today at the Parque Roca. The ceremony will take place at 11am local (2pm GMT/9am EST), then there'll be another round of press conferences. More about that later today.

In the meantime, here's a clip of David and Horacio Zeballos, practicing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More Doubles Practice, No Media Today


After the press conference yesterday, the doors of the Parque Roca remained closed for the media today while the team continued its preparations for the tie. So what photos there are, here and on the Photo Page, are by AAT. Though there was one visitor, who was allowed inside and invited to follow today's training from a seat in the front row - Juan Ignacio Chela (see pic).

The only training session for the day took place in the morning and once more saw David practicing doubles together with Horacio Zeballos. This time, they played against Charly Berlocq and Leo Mayer.
Horacio, who called it an honour to have been nominated again and the Davis Cup something he used to dream of as a child, had the following to say about David yesterday:
I feel comfortable, playing with him. He was my doubles partner when I made my [Davis Cup] debut and that was one of my best matches. You have to give the best you can. With David's experience and the motivation I have we're a very strong team. I hope we can win. The will to win is there. David is a great player, he's experienced and for me, he's one of the best Argentine Davis Cup players of all time. He gives me a lot of peace, calmness and knowledge. (Source.)
Tomorrow, after training, it'll be time for the traditional official dinner. Apparently, it's going to take place at the Parque Roca - just like the practice sessions and the press conferences and the draw ceremony. Which is perhaps not very creative but definitely very practical.
While on Thursday, at 11am local (2pm GMT/9am EST) we'll officially get to know what awaits us (in what order) on the weekend when the draw ceremony takes place.

Last but not least, on Saturday David will not only play the doubles, that much seems certain now, he'll apparently also get an award by the ITF in recognition of his Davis Cup appearances  (source).

Update (30/01)
The Davis Cup Commitment Award (for having played 20 Davis Cup ties or more) will be awarded to Guillermo Vilas, José Luis Clerc, Ricardo Cano and Javier Frana on Saturday, ahead of the doubles. David, however, playing his 25th tie this weekend, will receive his award at the official dinner tonight (source). After all, he'll have to play on Saturday.

Edit: And the very latest news - David will play doubles at São Paulo, together with Rafa Nadal (source).

Monday, January 28, 2013

Press Conference Day at the Parque Roca

Today, the Davis Cup week officially began at the Parque Roca with a another extensive doubles practice for David and Horacio Zeballos, playing against Guido Pella and Leo Mayer. But apart from training, David and the others also faced the assembled media at the Parque Roca's press room today.

- As can be seen in the clip above, which starts with David, saying that Davis Cup matches are always difficult, regardless of the rankings and things like that, as these matches are something entirely different. As for the upcoming tie, he thinks that they have to focus on themselves and on doing things the best way they can, trying make the most of the home advantage. And they know that the doubles is an important point - one that he's apparently going to contest together with Horacio Zeballos.
Though David apparently also said that he's ready to play a live fifth rubber, if need be (source).

After (in the clip) Pico talks about that he may be the number one but that he feels like another member of the team and that this will be a difficult tie but they're united, it's David's turn again, who says he's happy to be part of the team again, and that they're in good shape and ready for the tie.
With Martin Jaite adding that this tie will be tougher then the last meeting between Argentina and Germany in Bamberg, last year. After all, the German team can rely on its number one this time.

In any case, it seems there's little doubt now that Pico and Charly Berlocq will play the singles, David and Horacio Zeballos will play the doubles, and in case there's a live fifth rubber then David could play that one, as well. While on the German side we can probably expect Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer to play singles, and Kohlschreiber together with Christopher Kas for the doubles.


David: Davis Cup a Common Goal - for Almost Everybody


Before it's all about the upcoming first-round tie against Germany again, here's another interview with David. An interview that's making waves in the Argentine media at the moment - and for obvious reasons. Up until now, David (ranked #88 as of this week) didn't lose too many words about Delpo and his decision not to play any Davis Cup ties this year. But Cecilia Caminos and Ignacio Pereyra from the news agency dpa asked David what he thinks about Delpo's move, as well as about Martin Jaite and Mariano Zabaleta and a few other things in connection with the Davis Cup and the team.
Here's the complete interview (via Cancha Llena):

Q: There are reports, saying Del Potro doesn't want to be part of the team as long as Nalbandian is there. Is that true?

David: You'll have to ask him.

Q: Have you never wondered about that?

David: About what? I'm saying that when it comes to representing the country you have to try and be there. I played together with twenty or more different teammates, under five different captains, and more than anything else I've always been ready to represent the country.

Q: Wouldn't it be better to clean up the strange atmosphere that surrounds the team?

David: And how do you clean it up? That is over, it's 2013 now, you have to think about how to win in 2013. Last year, we reached the semifinal, the year before that we reached the final. So that's over.

Q: Would you talk to Del Potro about returning to the team?

David: He made his decision in December. He should've talked to the captain.

Q: Did you hear it from somebody else that Del Potro won't be playing?

David: No, Martin [Jaite] told me about it.

Q: Del Potro didn't talk to the players?

David: No, he didn't talk to anybody. He talked to Martin, I think, and to nobody else. That's okay, you have to inform the captain.

Q: If Argentina had to play relegation in order to stay in the World Group, would you still not try to convince him to play?

David: I hope he'll be there when we play the quarterfinal tie. But I think that he made a decision concerning his future and this whole year. It's his right to make choices about his future and his professional life. I dedicate myself to playing tennis and I think that everyone has to fulfill their roles.

Q: Do you think that you have different goals?

David: I think that as players we all have different goals because of the rankings, schedules, tournaments. But I think that the Davis Cup is a common goal that almost all of us, or all of us have.

Q: Does it seem counterproductive that vice-captain Marian Zabaleta, one of those in charge of trying to improve Del Potro's integration into the team, is at the same time negotiating with Del Potro about his appearance at the exhibition in Punta del Este?

David: But who said that's the role of the vice-captain?

Q: It's what has always been said, that this is his role.

David: I don't know if that's the role of the vice-captain, or if it's helping Martin on court and during the training sessions, talking about strategy. I don't know. One thing doesn't rule out the other.

Q: What does Jaite add [to the mix]?

David: I like how they work, I think that they plan and do things the right way. They get along really well, it's a fun team. That's what he adds.

Q: Does the Davis Cup make things difficult for those players, who want to focus on the circuit?

David: Changing surfaces and the calendar make it difficult but it's not impossible. They play Davis Cup everywhere and everbody suffers. It always takes place during weeks where you could get some rest if you're focusing on the circuit. In terms of the schedule it's uncomfortable for pretty much everybody. Everyone makes an effort to play, more or less. Or many make that effort.

Q: After putting so much effort into it, would it make you very angry not to win the Davis Cup? They say that the atmosphere among the players on the team didn't really help.

David: Well, not only the players... The media don't help, the leadership doesn't help. It's not just the player. The Asociación (AAT) is like that, too. There are many things that need to be done. Argentine tennis went through one of its best moments and we're still stuck in the same old situation, in the system, everything. The AAT depends on the Davis Cup. It's very difficult the way it is. I think it's all still pretty much the same, hopefully it can be changed.

Q: Are there new players coming up?

David: The new generations, 19 or 20 years old now, still need a couple of years. That where you see that there's no real plan. The players who come up, in brackets, do so by chance, or because of their talent or their own efforts. Turning pro is difficult.

Q: How many years more are you going to play?

David: I don't know, I'll play as long as I want to and feel that I have the strength to do it.

Q: Had Argentina won the Davis Cup in 2012, would you have retired?

David: But we didn't win it.

Q: But if you had?

David: Could be. Could have been. But it didn't happen.

Q: What does the Davis Cup stand for, for you?

David: Passion.

Q: And unfinished business?

David: ...Yeah.

Q: Ahead of the tie against Germany Argentina is hit by the absence of Del Potro, the injury of Edurardo Schwank and physical problems that other players are having. Do you feel there's the risk of [having to play] relegation?

David: Why? No, we're not San Lorenzo [I assume he means the football team; maybe some of VD's Argentine readers can explain what he means, that would be appreciated.]

Q: There's no 'spectre of relegation'?

David: No, no. That spectre was always there.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The First Doubles Practice & David on TV

Update (27/01)
Here's some footage from yesterday's practice session.

In the morning, it was time for David's first practice session at the Estadio Mary Téran de Weiss, as the stadium is officiall called (after having trained on the outside practice court yesterday). And - surprise - David was practicing doubles together with Horacio Zeballos, playing against Charly Berlocq and Guido Pella. A first sign that his first official match since last August could very well be the doubles rubber, a week from now.

Edit: Starting on Monday (as David and the others will get the day off tomorrow; source) there'll be two training sessions per day while the German team starts training on site tomorrow. The "roadmap" relased by the AAT says that the press conferences will take place on Monday, which would be unusal as normally, it's Tuesday - we'll see. But in any case the draw ceremony plus press conferences is scheduled for Thursday, at 11am local.
In other words, it's a busy week that lies ahead of David - and of us.

Apart from that, I already mentioned it in the comments, there's a new TV interview that David did for Argentine ESPN+ and that will be aired tomorrow. Ahead of the broadcast, ESPN have relased a 7-minute preview on their website. This clip includes David's replies to questions about his prospects, injuries, becoming a father - and about the Davis Cup, where without actually naming any names David makes it very clear what he thinks about the latest developments concerning the team.
I've put the clip itself and my summary/transcript of it in a backdated post that you'll find here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Davis Cup (& some other things) - A New Interview


Update (25/01)
Visual evidence at last - David at the Parque Roca (on the small training court next to the stadium), preparing for the tie under the watchful eye of Martin Jaite.
A couple more pics on the Photo Page.


Ahead of the first Davis Cup tie this year and to pass the time until the preparations for it begin in Buenos Aires tomorrow, here's the latest interview with David. Another one that was conducted by email, apparently the preferred strategy of getting David to do interviews, of late...
Q: If you look back at your career, what's the first thing that comes to your mind?

David: The first thing that comes to my mind is that I'm happy because I have achieved lots of goals that I set for myself.

Q: The Davis Cup is something that slipped through your fingers these last few years. Is that what makes it your priority and what makes you go on?

David: Yes, for sure. Without doubt, these days the Davis Cup is my great objective and my main motivation. But I still play every match on the Tour with a lot of intensity.

Q: Is there an added pressure of having to win the Davis Cup because you got so close?

David: It's not pressure, it's the will to win it, it's a huge desire and I'll continue to pursue it for as long as I'll play.

Q: Why did you not win it?

David: There were different reasons, each time. But we learn from each tie. We know that it's important to have a strong team and luck is also very important.

Q: How necessary is "the team" for winning the Davis Cup? After all, it's an individual sport.

David: Obviously, it's necessary to have a good team with good players to be able to win the [Davis] Cup.

Q: It's seems that everything that happens around the team, what they say about your relationship with Del Potro, or the relationship between Juan Martin and Jaite etc, it seems that all of that doesn't help you.

David: Of course it would be better if there wasn't so much of a fuss being made about the team. But it's the Davis Cup and that's part of it.

Q: With the current team and absences, what chances does Argentina really have?

David: Before you think of the final you have to get through the first round. We have to take firm but short steps because there's no sense in thinking about the final if we have to face a strong team like Germany. If we win there's the next strong opponent. You have to take it step by step.

Q: What does Del Potro not being there mean for Argentina?

David: I won't be revealing any secrets, talking about the quality of Juan Martin. He's Argentina's number one. That he won't be there will make the tie a lot more difficult.

Q: You haven't questioned Juan Martin's decision to resign from Davis Cup in order to focus on his individual career. Would you do the same if you were his age and had the chance to be among the best in the world?

David: It's not up to me to question it. I had my career the way I wanted it, listening to the advice of my team and the people around me. Those are absolutely personal and respectable decisions.

Q: Could you play three matches in this tie or do you prefer to focus on the singles?

David: I'm at the captains disposal and I respect his decisions as captain. If I could I'd play five matches but Davis Cup is about strategy and thinking about what's best for the team, rather than personal wishes.

Q: Are there days when you don't think about the Davis Cup?

David: I'm not obsessed with the [Davis] Cup. It's a huge motivation for me because it's the only trophy that's still missing in Argentina's showcase. I'd love to win it but I also think about the Tour and what's still left of my career.

Q: Apart from the Davis Cup, which Nalbandian will we see on the Tour this year?

David: It''ll be the best Nalbandian possible. I'm going out there to win every match that I play, like I always have. But I'm not going to set goals for myself, concerning the rankings or something like that because I know that with good results the ranking will come.

Q: You're among the most beloved tennis players in Argentina. What do you think you've done to deserve it?

David: I didn't do anything, or rather I didn't try to do anything to make them love me more or less than they do. Maybe people recognise that I never saved myself and that I always give everything to win. Though I'm not the one who should be answering this question, I think.

Q: On a personal level, how has the fact that you'll soon be a dad changed you?

David: It's a great joy, incomparable, we're looking forward to it and I'm excited to think about it.

Q: And in everyday life? Do you try to imagine situations with your future child? How do you think you'll be as a parent?

David: I imagine us together in the garden, playing with the dogs... I'll enjoy that, for sure.

Q: If, at a certain age age, your child tells you about wanting to become a tennis pro, what kind of advice do you give?

David: I'd say - off to work... Haha. Obviously, I'm not going to decide my child's life. If my child wants to become a tennis player that I can talk about the pros and cons. But my child will be what she wants to be.

Q: And how do you see yourself in the future? Will there still be a connection with tennis or are you going to look for a different occupation?

David: I don't look too far ahead and right now I still play tennis professionally. I'm sure that I'll stay close to sports because that's my passion but I don't know yet what I'm going to do the day I retire.

Q: People in Argentina have dreamed about winning the Davis Cup these last few years. Can you tell them that they can dream again this year?

David: Yes, of course. You can always dream. Without forgetting that it's very diffuclt to play and win each tie. But without hope there's no point in playing.

Q: Do you dream?

David: Like I did on the first day.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jaite Nominates Team for First Round

(AP Photo)

A day earlier than he would've had to and ahead of Germany's new captain, Martin Jaite officially announced his line-up for the first-round tie today. - And there were absolutely no surprises.
So here's the team we'll get to see at the Parque Roca:

Charly Berlocq
& Horacio Zeballos

Update (22/01)
And here's the line-up of the German team (no surprises there, either):

Philipp Kohlschreiber
Florian Mayer
Christopher Kas
Tobias Kamke

Leo Mayer and Guido Pella will be there as well, to train with the team. In any case, these nominations seem to confirm that Pico and Charly Berlocq will probably play the singles while it could very well be David together with Horacio Zeballos for the doubles.

The public training sessions at the Parque Roca will for both teams begin next Friday (source).
So that's when we can expect some photos and probably also videos. Whether David is in Buenos Aires now or still at home I can't say at this point.

Edit: Some quotes from Martin Jaite (source).
Without doubt the tie against Germany will be difficult but I trust the team. We'd like to have a great crowd. The players are very excited about playing at home and they're motivated to give everything. I trust them completely and the dedication to this dream that we all share.
Being the home team is always important. Let's not forget that. I'm sure that the people will support us because the team deserves it and because we all dream of winning the Davis Cup.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Davis Cup: Some Thoughts & Speculations


Out of those players, who will contest the Davis Cup tie between Argentina and Germany only one was left in the draw at the Australian Open - until today. Philipp Kohlschreiber, the "last of the Mohicans" so to speak, lost in the third round to Milos Raonic today. So now all players involved, whether Argentine or German, can focus entirely on what's ahead, two weeks from now - Davis Cup, first round, Parque Roca.

From David nothing has been heard since he assured the media that he'll play the tie and that the muscular problems he's been having are normal problems to have during the pre-season (see last post).
Experience shows that David, saying something like that, especially when there's a Davis Cup tie ahead, can mean anything from it's really nothing to it's actually a whole lot worse than he says.
Apart from that, there's also no news about Pico and his recovery (after troubles with his hand and a strained thigh at Melbourne). Which leaves little else to talk, write or speculate about than the possible line-ups for the tie that both captains will have to officially announce on Tuesday, the latest.

The most popular version among the Argentine media at the moment, and the one I as well think is most likely to happen, is Pico and Charly Berlocq getting named as singles players. Whereas in the doubles, we could get to see the doubles team again that worked so well three years ago and pulled off a huge surprise - David and Horacio Zeballos. In case there's a live fifth rubber and David is fit Jaite could then decide to play him in such a match. In other words, I think that David's first official match since last August will be the doubles. And that whether he'll also play a singles will depend on his form and fitness (as well as on how things will go with the tie).

For the German team, this tie will be the beginning of a new era. After nearly a decade with Patrik Kühnen (who resigned at the end of last year) the team has a new captain now, former player Carsten Arriens.
As for the line-up Arriens will rely on for his first ever tie, there's one change he has already had to make: Philipp Petzschner suffered a tear at Chennai and won't be able to take part. Whereas Tommy Haas has asked to be excused from having to play this tie. Which means that it's probably going to be Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer for the singles and Kohlschreiber with Christopher Kas, Petzschner's replacement, for the doubles. While the fourth player to get nominated could be Tobias Kamke.

Apparently, David will be flying to Buenos Aries tomorrow, where the court at the Parque Roca has already been prepared (see photo below). The coming weeks might give us some sort of idea of how fit he really is. And who he's practicing doubles with.

(Gustavo Ortiz/Clarin)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

David In Doubt for Davis Cup?

UpdateII (17/01)
David spent the evening at the Carnaval Cuartetero in Córdoba yesterday, to have a good time with some friends and not to discuss his health. But some journalists caught up with him, asking if he'll play the upcoming Davis Cup tie against Germany - David's reply: "yes"*. And also asking him if he's injured - David's reply: "no" (source).
As Bernardo Ballero repeated yesterday, it's not an injury but a "discomfort" he's feeling in his soleus muscle, "the result of muscle soreness after a long pause", adding that it's "not something to worry about". Ballero also said that David will continue his "normal routine" at home before he'll travel to Buenos Aires on Sunday (sources 1 & 2).

Let's hope it's really just a sore muscle, this time. And that he'll be ready for the tie.

*Or to be precise: "yes, yes, sure" - a ten-second clip of the original version at the top of this article here, which starts with David saying that those muscular problems are "nothing" and "normal" for the pre-season.

Bernardo Ballero told news agency Telam that David has muscular problems in his right leg but that it's not a tear:
David continues to train as much as is possible under the circumstances but he's planning to play the Davis Cup tie against Germany. It's some discomfort [that he's experiencing], it's not a tear.

After having spent that much time unable to train because of that serious injury [he picked up ahead of the US Open] David started what was an important pre-season with the objective of returning in Davis Cup. This led to muscle soreness but he continues to prepare [for the tie] and he hopes that he'll be fit to play it.

Which sounds like comparatively good news in this context. Though I'm sure I'm not the only one who remembers how the serious injury Ballero mentions began as a "minimal discomfort" before it eventually put an end to David's season, last year.

According to Quique Cano, David suffered a small tear in the same area a couple of months ago. And though that tear healed it doesn't bode well that he's now having problems with the same muscle again, with another tear a constant possibility.
At the moment, also according to Cano, David is doing fitness training and kinesiological exercises. On the weekend he might start hitting a few balls (without moving too much) and if all goes well he could train more normally again by the middle of next week. In any case, if he's fit to play the tie, or decides that he is even if he's not and Jaite still lets him play, he'll get there without much preparation.

When I wrote the previous post yesterday, all was still completely quiet on the David front.
Except maybe for a little detail I forgot to mention, namely that as of this week, he's ranked #83.
But now there is news from David. And unfortunately, it's bad news...

Apparently, David is having problems with the soleus muscle in his right calf, problems that started already a few days ago. So far, there's no official statement about this from David or his camp.
There's only a lot of speculation about the gravity and exact nature of these problems, with the different versions ranging from a small tear David has suffered to some discomfort or pain that he's experiencing. AAT sources are apparently saying it's not a tear but at the same time there seems to be no confirmation from their end that he'll be able to play the tie.

At Melbourne Park yesterday, asked about the chances of the German team against Argentina, Florian Mayer said that the absence of Delpo and Edu Schwank would help and apart from that he didn't know "what shape Nalbandian will be in, physically" (source).
- No one really seems to know, at this point.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Brief Update

(Marianna Massey/Getty Images)

No need for a big red arrow this time - David is not in Melbourne. I suppose he's still at home in Unquillo, training as usual at the Inés Gorrochategui Academy in Villa Allende. And getting ready for the Davis Cup tie against Germany, his first event of the season, now a little more than 2 weeks away.
But I can only speculate right now as there's no news of any kind.

Meanwhile at the Australian Open, Pico lost in the first round to Andrey Kuznetsov yesterday. A match that gave rise to some worries in connection with the Davis Cup tie, as Pico was struggling with hamstring problems (source). And apparently, there might also still be some problems with his hand. But he'll now focus on getting fit again and ready for the Davis Cup (source).
Out of David's possible teammates, Charly Berlocq is the only one who has made it through to the second round, while Leo Mayer, Horacio Zeballos and Guido Pella all went out in the first, like Pico.
Leo Mayer and Horacio Zeballos are also playing doubles, though Horacio and his partner Oliver Marach have been rather unfortunate with the draw - their first opponents will be the Bryans.

Apart from that there's news from the Brasil Open in São Paulo, which will be David's first ATP tournament of this season. If you click on the pic here to enlarge it you'll see that David, along with Nicolas Almagro, Thomaz Bellucci and Pico, features rather prominently in the artwork for the event. But the artwork will probably undergo some changes, as Rafa Nadal has now been confirmed for the event (source).
So there'll be more competition than expected at São Paulo but perhaps also the chance to put in a round or two at the PlayStation.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Interviews: Davis Cup, Delpo and Plans for 2013

(Cancha Llena/archive)

The photo above isn't really new, it's another one of those that were taken in Villa Allende in November. But what's new that's these two interviews here. The first David agreed to do this year.
First of all, here are some questions that David apparently answered per email (by Ariel Giuliani and Héctor Torres for Ambito):
Q: What's your general assessment of 2012?

David: While the end of the year wasn't good because of the injury I had some stretches of good tennis during the season.

Q: In 2013, is the Davis Cup going to be the primary objective again?

David: The first objective is the tie against Germany, which won't be easy. When I was mapping out the the season together with my team we determined that it wasn't advisable to travel to Australia, in order to be at my best for the Davis Cup.

Q: During the last tie Jaite said that he still seeks to perfect the Argentine team. What do you think this team still needs to win the Davis Cup?

David: Argentina has a great team and a great captain for winning the Davis Cup. Apart from that it also depends on luck whether you're at your best for each tie.

Q: Will this season be as tough as the last? The calendar won't be as packed without the Olympics.

David: All seasons are very tough because of the travelling, the number of tournaments and especially the surface changes.

Q: How much is the birth of your child going to influence what will happen this year? Could that be an emotional boost?

David: We were very happy about the news but for now it's not going to have an influence on how I plan my schedule, although I don't want to put myself under pressure. Good news always have an influence on the minds of players.

Q: You were one of Roger Federer's toughest opponents at a time when he was at his best. What are your experiences and what have you learned from having played against him?

David: Against Federer I've played since  we were juniors and those were always very good matches. Rather than having learned something, I feel honoured to have played against him many times and to have defeated him, the best tennis player of all time.

Q: Speaking of Federer, what did his recent visit mean for Argentine tennis?

David: Apart from the fact that it was an exhibiton [two matches against Delpo] it's great that the Argentine public had the opportunity to see him up close, to enjoy that and assure themselves of his qualities as a tennis player and as a human being.

Q: After winning the Masters Cup in 2005 you said you'd play three or five more years. That was seven years ago and you're still a highly respected player. What will the next few years look like for you?

David: There's no point in planning too far ahead. Back then in that moment I probably felt that I'd wear myself out more rapidly. But I prefer to set short-term goals for myself, without thinking of retirement dates or anything like that. I play, I enjoy it, I still want to win tournaments.

Q: In the more distant future, do you see yourself as part of the tennis world or outside of it? Have you ever thought about becoming Davis Cup captain?

David: What I'm sure about is that I'll always be close to the sport but I don't know in what kind of role. As I've said before, I don't want to plan too far ahead.

Q: Without using the word "everything" what would you give to win the Davis Cup?

David: I'd give what I've always given, all of the effort that's in my power to give because I want Argentina to win the Davis Cup.

Apart from that, yesterday David also did a live interview on FM Rock and Pop, an Argentine radio station. Here are some quotes (via Cancha Llena), first of all about Delpo, his public dispute with Martin Jaite, and the consequences for Argentina's Davis Cup campaign.
I probably know less about it than you do because I'm in Córdoba, that's where I live and I come here [to Buenos Aires] when I have to play. I'm sure that I'm not aware of many of the things that may have happened, and I'm not interested in them. I always think about trying to put together the best possible team.
- Spoken like a future Davis Cup captain. But of course he had to talk a bit more about Delpo and his decision not to play any ties this year:
Everyone leads his own life and plans his schedule as he wants. The season is very tough. The Davis Cup takes place during those weeks when players should be resting. It's different with Rafa [Nadal] and [Novak] Djokovic beause they've already won the Davis Cup. Everyone can have different priorities, there's no point in debating about that. Tennis players are individualists.
Juan Martin is a very important player for the team. Playing without him obviously reduces our chances against any country. We have to face this season the way things are, with the rest of the players.
A pragmatic and most of all very diplomatic reply from David. Who seems to have changed his mind, as far as his expectations for this season are concerned. Last month, he still talked about getting back inside the Top50. Now the ranking no longer matters:
This is obviously the final stage of my career. The priorities are different. I know now that I can't fight to be at the top anymore, for physical and motivational reasons. It's not the same at 31 as it is at 22. You look for something else in your life. I still want to play this season, I'm doing the pre-season now. I haven't looked at the ranking, I don't have any idea. If I'm in good shape I should be able to beat anyone. The only thing about not having a good ranking [and therefore not being seeded] is that you get meet the top guys earlier.
I don't even look at the ranking, I don't care if I finish the season at 20 or 80. I'll do my best to win matches and a tournament.

On a different but not completely unrelated note: Good news from Pico, his wrist is better (source).

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Road Ahead (with David)

(La Voz del Interior/archive)

The season 2013 is officially under way. We're now into the second week of tournaments and in merely three days' time the draw will be made for the Australian Open. And where's David? Good question.
It's been clear for a while now that the first Slam of the year will take place without him. But how David's preparations for the season are coming along, how he's doing in general and whether or not there have been any physical problems - I'd tell you if I could. So far, there's been no news, no interviews, no photos. He is apparently training in Villa Allende with his brother Javier. And that's it for "news" at the moment.

For David, the season will begin at the Parque Roca, on the first weekend in February, when (just like last year) Argentina will face Germany in the first round of the Davis Cup. Argentina's captain Martin Jaite still has about two weeks left to decide which players he's going to nominate - and to see who will be fit and ready to play the tie. While Edu Schwank (who will miss the tie) starts his rehabilitation after wrist surgery tomorrow (source), and Charly Berlocq seems to be on the mend (source), it's now Pico, or rather his hand that's the cause for concern. To quote his Facebook page:
Unfortunately because of the injury in my hand I won't be able to play at the Kooyong exhibition... As my doctor recommended me, I am going to train little by little for the next days with the hope to be back for the Australian Open
- And for the Davis Cup, hopefully. As I don't think I need to explain what Pico pulling out of the tie would mean for the team. I'll try to keep you posted about any further developments and injury news. And next week I'll also be taking a look at possible line-ups and strategies.

After the Davis Cup tie, David's first event of the year, he'll then play the Golden Swing. Not "all of it" as he put it but almost all of it. Whereas last year, he played a tournament directly after the Davis Cup weekend, this time he'll take a break (so he won't play Viña del Mar). And then it'll be São Paulo, the Copa Claro in Buenos Aires and finally Acapulco for him. More on the Schedule 2013 page.

The new season, even if it has not yet begun for David (currently ranked #84 by the way), also brings some changes, both for David on court and for us and this blog. You may have seen it, the ATP hasn't actually tightened the rules concerning the time limit of 25 seconds between rallies but what's new is that it's now being enforced by the umpires, including warnings and penalties. Now, David usually keeps those pauses relatively short (that's at least my impression) but often takes very long to make up his mind about whether or not to challenge. Whether this new enforcement of the old rule will cause him any trouble - we'll see.
Apart from that, finding and posting agency photos here on VD will be much more difficult from now on as my main source for them is no longer accessible. The ATP website's scoreboard has been completely revamped and (so far at least) the result is a complete catastrophe. Hopefully it'll work by the time David's first "scoreboard match" comes around.
But the biggest surprise and shock for me personally is that Jorge Viale is quitting his blog Fue Buena (as well as writing for ESPN) in order to become Delpo's press officer. There goes a very important and very much liked source for VD...

Tonight, David is apparently in Villa Carlos Paz again. Though this time he'll make an appearance on stage, in the theatre version of "Mar de Fondo" (source), originally a TV show that seems to be mixture of interviews and comedy. More about it later, if possible.

Update (09/01)
(La Voz del Interior)

David did appear on stage last night and it seems that he had a pretty good time, talking (in a not too serious fashion) about his career, his victories over Roger Federer and, of course, the Davis Cup
David's verdict on Argentina's opponents in the first round: "The German team is a tough one. They're tough guys, who fight." But what he didn't know, apparently, was the number of Davis Cup matches he has played by now - 48. Outside of the show itself David refused to answer any questions but his girlfriend Victoria, who was there as well, told the media that the child she's expecting is a girl. (Source.)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Davis Cup Drama - Deluxe Edition (without David)


Back in November, when asked about the future of the Argentine Davis Cup team, Pico said he couldn't imagine the team without Delpo, its #1 (source). But now he and the others will have to get used to the thought since Delpo has decided not to play any Davis Cup ties this year. A decision that he announced in the course of a public dispute between him and captain Martin Jaite.

But before I get to that - there's more bad news for Jaite, David and the team.
(Getty Images)
Yesterday was supposed to be the day that David and Edu Schwank would take up training together in Villa Allende. Instead, yesterday ended up being the day that Edu had to have wrist surgery at a clinic in Buenos Aires. The operation, an arthroscopy on his inflamed wrist, was a relatively minor one but he'll still be out for around two months. In other words, he'll miss the tie against Germany and Jaite will have to think of a new doubles.
Apart from that, Leo Mayer has managed to injure his hand in an "accident with pyrotechnics". He's out of Brisbane, in doubt for Melbourne and possibly also for the first-round tie.

Update (05/01)
And the list grows longer: Charly Berlocq has pulled out of Auckland due to a strained thigh muscle, "as a precaution and in order to continue his recovery".

But back to Delpo and Jaite and their dispute. Here's a chronology of events:

Friday, Dec 21
It all begins with a piece of info that, as such, is no surprise: Delpo won't play the first-round tie against Germany. The unusual part, however, is that he has been excluded from the tie by Jaite.
Delpo himself initially dismisses this as hearsay.
They're saying things now but I still haven't spoken with the captain. We'll talk and then the two of us will say something. In the next couple of days, I'm going to meet with him and then we'll decide the [Davis Cup] schedule and what's ahead. (Source.)

Saturday, Dec 22
In an interview, Jaite explains why Delpo is no longer part of his plans for the tie against Germany.
Together with vice-captain Zabaleta, Jaite asked seven players to state until December 10 whether they're available for the first-round tie. Six players said yes (David, Pico, Edu, Charly, Leo Mayer and Horacio Zeballos). As Delpo wanted more time to decide, Jaite gave him until December 20 to make up his mind and reply. But no reply came. At 8pm on the 20th, Jaite left a message, informing Delpo that no reply would be treated like a negative reply. Nothing was heard from Delpo so he was ruled out of the tie.

Wednesday, Dec 26
At a press conference Delpo says that he learned about his exclusion by Jaite from the media since the two of them haven't met and still haven't talked to each other. He adds that he wants to speak with Jaite as he'd like to start the season with all Davis Cup matters settled beforehand.

Thursday, Dec 27
Jaite, on holiday in Uruguay, responds via the media, stressing that Delpo failed to cooperate.
The rules have to be the same for everyone. We were very clear about that. (Source.)

Friday, Dec 28
Delpo announces that he won't be playing any Davis Cup ties this year.
It wasn't an easy decision but I have important goals on the circuit. (Source.)

Saturday, Dec 29
Both Jaite and Zabaleta call Delpo's decision "understandable" and say that it has to be respected. They also both assure Delpo that in case he changes his mind, he'll be welcome and the "doors will be open" for him. All the players, including David, are keeping a complete silence on the matter.
Meanwhile in an interview Delpo talks about his problems with the AAT and its officials. He also insists that his decision against playing Davis Cup is not meant to be forever - only for 2013.

Monday, Dec 31
Delpo makes it clear that he won't change his mind and that for him, the discussion is over.
Not taking part in the upcoming Davis Cup [season], that topic is closed. (Source.)

So the official version is that Delpo wants to focus on the Tour this year and on securing a place among the top players. And that additional Davis Cup duties would lessen his chances of achieving this.
Now, you could argue that those additional Davis Cup duties would merely amount to playing a maximum of two ties during the season (as he won't play in the first round and usually doesn't, anyway; the final takes place after the end of the ATP season). You could also argue that other players, also top players (e.g. Djokovic) gained extra confidence in Davis Cup that proved to be very helpful for them on the Tour.

But if you look at the circumstances then I think it gets rather difficult to see Delpo's decision as a purely strategical one that's not related to Jaite and their obvious differences. Just to remind you, the AAT appointed Jaite (David's coach at Mar del Plata) against Delpo's wishes and without consulting him.
Still, the new arrangement seemed to work - until the whole thing blew up during last year's semifinal.
Afterwards, Jaite and the AAT offered to have the first-round tie played on hardcourt for Delpo's sake. Making things easier for him and yet at the same time more difficult by removing his standard reason for not playing in the first round, namely having to switch surfaces. Delpo reacted with silence, and an angry Jaite eventually decided together with the other players to play the tie on clay.

It's impossible to know who put in how much of an effort to reach (or avoid) who in this case. Though once again, the same old mistake was made of communicating via the media instead of talking face to face.
I don't think Delpo knew from the start that he wasn't going to play any ties this year. In the early stages of the dispute (practically until two days before he announced his decision) there's nothing to suggest that he had such intentions. Therefore it seems more like a reaction than a previously laid plan. Another reason why it's difficult to see Delpo's decision as unrelated to Jaite, just like that it's supposed to concern this year only. Jaite's contract as captain ends after this season and Guillermo Vilas is already positioning himself as his successor (supported now also by his former arch-enemy José Luis Clerc). Apart from that, this is probably also David's last year. So in 2014, Delpo could return to a team that's very different from what it is now.

At the end of the day, we can only speculate about the motives and the exact workings behind all this. But what's clear is that the Argentine team will have to make do without its best player. And how far David, Pico and the others can get without Delpo, well, that remains to be seen. Should they lose to Germany in the first round it'll be the World Group Play-offs for Argentina in September. Would Delpo make an exception in that case? Your guess is as good as mine.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year & Happy Birthday David!


Every year on David's birthday it's time for a new look here on VD.
And so this is it, Vamos David 2013 - Argentine colours edition. I hope you'll like it.
Usually, this is also the moment for one of those little celebratory video clips.
But unfortunately I'm ill, have been since Christmas, and that has completely derailed my plans.

Another thing that's different this time is that there's terrible news to start the new year with...
Some of you will have already seen it - Delpo won't play any Davis Cup ties in 2013.
A decision he explained by citing "important goals" on the Tour that he has for this year (source).
More about this as soon as I'm better again. 

But for now it's

Happy Birthday, David &