Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Adios Acapulco...

(tournament website)

Yesterday, David continued his tradition of early exits at Acapulco (2008 was the exception that proves the rule) with his defeat against Aljaz Bedene, who won 4-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Without coverage it's impossible to say what happened in this match, or rather - why...

Edit: As far as I can see, David didn't talk to the media after the match so I can offer you no quotes. And as the match took place away from centre court, without any coverage, nobody really  knows what happened. The most popular theory seems to be that it was probably a lack of fitness and stamina that led to this result. In any case, nobody seems to have heard anything about an injury.

Davis Cup Intermezzo post coming this weekend. And then on to Indian Wells, next week (the draw will be on Tuesday).

Here's a clip with a bit of footage from the match, including match point:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Acapulco R1 - David vs Aljaz Bedene

(Terra/Getty Images; montage by VD)

Update (27/02)
I just saw the result... I'm going to try and find out what happened.

This is the second time that David plays against Aljaz Bedene (currently #71). The first took place last year at Belgrade and back then David had little difficulty, beating the Slovenian 6-4, 6-3.

For the record, David has lost eight positions this week and he's now ranked #86. At Acapulco he doesn't have any points to defend but that'll change at Indian Wells.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Acapulco Draw

(tournament website)
Slightly belated and in the short version (I'm sick), here's the draw for Acapulco. David has been drawn into Ferrer's half again:

[1] David Ferrer (ESP) vs Albert Ramos (ESP)
[Q] Wayne Odesnik (USA) vs Lukasz Kubot (POL)
[Q] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) vs Pablo Andujar (ESP)
Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) vs [8] Benoit Paire (FRA)

[4] Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) vs Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) vs David Nalbandian (ARG)
Santiago Giraldo (COL) vs Ruben Ramirez-Hildalgo (ESP)
Joao Souza (POR) vs [5] Jürgen Melzer (AUT)

Complete draw here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

David Runs out of Steam against Ferrer

Everyone who takes more than just a cursory interest in the tennis player David Nalbandian has seen it before, the sheer range David possesses with his game. From beautiful and virtually flawless to barely watchable. There are matches where you get to see both ends of the spectrum, and this one, which "the other David" Ferrer won 2-6, 6-4, 6-0, was one of them. After an excellent first set, David grew more and more tired and eventually finished the match, running on empty. Still, the first set was a glimpse of what is still possible, it will have been also for David, himself. Something for him to build on.
The complete match (or just the first set) you can watch here.

Last week I wrote that David has proved before how his game remains intact, also after lengthy absences from the Tour.
And during the first set yesterday, he showed what his game can still look like, if everything works out. Including his serve.
84% first serves, 3 points dropped on serve - stats out of this world, just like pretty much everything else David did in this set. It's been a while since I last saw David move as well as this on clay, or hit especially his forehand so cleanly and accurately. At the same time, Ferrer made more errors than usual, several of which were the consequence of David's deep returns.
The first break David already got in the very first game of the match, a lead he then extended to a double break (for 4-1). After half an hour of brilliant tennis, David had won the first set 6-2. But the question was of course whether he'd be able to keep it up.

Early on in the second set David was still playing very well, though no longer quite as spectacularly well as in the first set. At that stage he still hadn't faced a single break point in this match - until the sixth game with its epic, ten-minute deuce battle. David saved the break point Ferrer had during it and somehow he held serve. But with hindsight, that was the moment when the 'lightness of being' from the first set was officially gone. David began to grow tired, with his serve and his movement deteriorating and with errors seeping into his game. Eventually, Ferrer broke as David served to stay in the second set, taking it 6-4. And at that stage it was pretty clear how this match would end.

Now visibly at the very end of his tether, David won a total of five points in the third set. In front of his home crowd he continued to fight until the end. But he couldn't keep his level from the first set, couldn't keep it up, physically. - And it ended with a bagel.

An astounding, brilliant start - and then a rather drastic downward spiral. And the shades of the David of old in the first set, or so it seemed. But the David of now still only just returned to the Tour. From no competitive tennis in almost half a year to playing a match almost every day and yesterday, it caught up with him.
As David said after the match against Berlocq, he's planning to play less than he did in previous seasons and he'll play those tournaments he likes (and where he gets a wildcard). He said it's going to be about enjoying himself. I think that's a good approach. And if from time to time he can still play like he did in the first set yesterday (or against Almagro last week) then so much for the better.

The video below contains a summary of what David said about the match at the press conference. That it was a tough match, that he played well for a set and a half but then began to feel the exhaustion from last week catching up with him. And that if at this level, you allow your intensity to drop just a little bit then you have to pay for that. Adding that Ferru is a great fighter, who made quite a few unforced errors in the first set but then raised his game while with David himself, it went exactly the other way around. It had something to do with the many matches he played last week, with the very different conditions here that cost much more strength - and Ferru was able to take advantage of all that.

Next up for David is now the final stop and big get-together of the Golden Swing - the 500 event in Acapulco...
Edit: ...where he's in the main draw without needing a wildcard.
 Apart from that, it's always nice to hang out at the beach - even if the ATP has issued a warning for the players, with tips about how to stay safe in Acapulco. Here's hoping David will stay safe. And a decent draw would be nice (the draw will come out on Sunday).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Copa Claro R2 - David vs David Ferrer


So far, whenever the Davids met whoever won the first set also won the match - but not today. After an absolutely stunning display in the first set, "our" David ran more and more out of gas until there was nothing left. And after an hour and 32 minutes, the other David prevailed 2-6, 6-4, 6-0.
More tomorrow...

(Inovaphoto/Getty Images; montage by VD)

Last year, it was one of the semifinals. This year, they already meet in the second round - today's night session at the BALTC will see the 14th edition of what I like to call the Battle of the Davids.
Hopefully without rain interrupting play, this time. And with a different outcome.

For David "Ferru" Ferrer, soon to be 31 years old like "our" David and currently ranked #4, the Copa Claro is the first clay-court tournament of the season after winning the title at Auckland and reaching the semifinal at Doha and at the Australian Open. Playing on clay now, in the first round he took a bit longer than expected against Agustin Velotti, his self-confessed fan, but still won very comfortably (6-4, 6-1).

The 13 previous encounters between the two Davids (the first of which dates all the way back to 2001) include plenty of close and hard-fought battles, epic five-setters at Slams, many tiebreaks and general drama, as well as the only match during David's fabulous week at Paris 2007, where he dropped a set. But all of that took place on hardcourt, where it's David, who leads 5-3. On clay, it's Ferrer, who leads 5-0. With last year's semifinal as the most recent addition to his list.

Matches between these two usually involve a number of breaks, and whoever takes the first set wins the match in the end - at least that's how it's always been so far, regardless of the surface. But especially on clay, Ferrer's defense makes it very difficult for David to finish points. Long and gruelling rallies - that's what "the other David" will be after and what "our David" will try to avoid. Which often leads to him, going for too much with his shots and making lots of unforced errors. Here's hoping that it'll be different tonight.

Copa Claro: David Beats Berlocq

A day later than originally planned and during the day instead of in the night session David finally got to play his first match at this year's Copa Claro. The conditions were not easy (and with the wind and the slow, heavy court basically the exact opposite of what they were last week) but David got the win in the end, defeating Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 after just under two hours. And setting up another "Battle of the Davids" in the second round today, against the top seed and defending champion David Ferrer.

After taking the first set, having broken Charly Berlocq twice towards the end of it, David dropped his serve at the start of the second and then only managed to hold serve once during it, with the other game he got during that set coming from a break. In the third set David and Charly traded breaks (from 3-2 to 4-3) before David got the decisive break for 5-3 and then served out the match.

Talking to the media after the match (a clip and some more quotes below), David said that despite his long week at São Paulo he's healthy and doing fine. But he knows that he'll have to play his best tennis to stand a chance against David Ferrer.
As far as his plans for this season are concerned, David wants to play those events that he likes and to play less in general.
It'll be more about enjoying those events that he plays and of course it'll also depend on how he feels and how fit he is.

Finally, here's another look at David at the BALTC but off-court this time, at his post-match press conference and then talking to ESPN afterwards. Saying that he feels good, that winning is always very important. The conditions are very different from last week and you have to work much harder for each point but he thinks it was a pretty good match. Asked about David Ferrer, he says their matches are always tough ones, close and complicated and he expects the same to happen again this time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Copa Claro R1 - David vs Carlos Berlocq


It wasn't as easy as the last time around but in the end it was once more David, who prevailed against his teammate Charly Berlocq - 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 after an hour and 53 minutes. In the second round tomorrow David will now be up against the defending champion, "the other David" Ferrer.
Clips, photos and quotes tomorrow...

(Inovaphoto/Terra; montage by VD)

3.26pm local: Ferrer wins and David and Charly are up next...
2.08pm local: The weather holds for now and play is under way as planned at the BALTC.

So this now is the Wednesday version of this post. About what's later today hopefully going to be the Wednesday version of this match, scheduled to take place as the second of the day. Theoretically, that means David and Charly should be on court at around 4pm local. But whether practically that's going to be the case remains to be seen as the forecast says it'll rain all day in Buenos Aires...

It's the tenth time this year that David plays the ATP tournament in Buenos Aires, previously known as Copa Telmex, nowadays known as Copa Claro. Ten appearances that include the title he won back in 2008, two semifinals and four quarterfinals, making it one of David's best and most successful events. And that's no surprise - after all, it's one he particularly enjoys playing in front of his home crowd.

David's opponent in today's first-round match is one of his Davis Cup teammates - Charly Berlocq, a year younger than David and at #77 currently ranked directly above him. Charly is playing the complete Golden Swing, all four weeks of it. At Viña del Mar he reached the semifinal (where he lost to the surprise champion Horacio Zeballos), while his week at São Paulo ended in the quarterfinal (lost to Nadal).
David and Charly have met three times so far, all of those matches took place on clay and David won all three of them. And especially their last encounter, in the quarterfinal at this event last year, was very one-sided. But the question will be how fit David is and how much energy he has left after São Paulo.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It's Copa Claro Week

And later today, David will play his first match at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club. Under the lights in the night session, in front of his home crowd, against one of his Davis Cup teammates, Charly Berlocq.
And as great a week as David had in Brazil, it'll be good to be home again.

More about the match (for which there will be a stream) later today.
In the meantime, and in other news, the AAT officially confirmed yesterday that the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against France will be held at the Parque Roca. Which may not seem like real news and more like a foregone conclusion but there are other cities with other venues that want to host it and this time, the AAT went as far as visiting those locations - but still confirmed the Parque Roca in the end.

Something that was clear before but has now also been made official is that David will receive a wildcard for the tournament in Acapulco next week (in case he needs one to get into the main draw).
But for now it's Copa Claro week and we'll "experience it".

Monday, February 18, 2013

Adeus e Obrigado São Paulo - David's Comeback Week

According to Charly Berlocq (who should know) the Copa Claro first-round match between David and him will take place Tuesday night, local time.
Edit: And it'll be the first match of the night session (source), which means there'll be a stream for it.

It would've been the perfect happy ending for an amazing comeback week - winning a title after almost half a year away from the Tour. In the end, it was Rafael Nadal, who won the title, defeating David 6-2, 6-3.
But even without the happy ending, it was a great comeback from David and not just his return to the Tour after almost half a year but also, at long last, a return to normality. And to winning more than one match in row, something that prior to this week David last did at the Queen's Club. At São Paulo, he won four in a row and especially the one against Almagro stands out as the kind of victory and just brilliant match we didn't get to see from David in a long time. And not just because of the injury pause.
Playing five matches in as many days turned out to be a bit too demanding for David. But this was only the beginning. And it was a great und somewhat unexpected start for his 2013 season.

But back to yesterday's final. Both David and Rafa Nadal seemed rather tense at the start, and the early stages of the match barely saw any longer rallies. With especially David often going for too much with his shots too quickly. At first, I mainly took it to be a sign of nerves and perhaps a bit of over-ambition. But David, consistently (if not to say desperately) trying to keep the points as short as possible is usually a sign for something else, namely that he knows he's not going to last, physically.
David first dropped his serve to give Nadal a 4-2 lead and then again when he served to say in the set, after having been 40-0 up, so Nadal took the first set 6-2.

At the beginning of the second set, however, it looked like David would finally find his way into the match, playing much more freely and much better now. And for a while, the tables seemed to be turning. David broke Nadal in the first game of the set and when at 3-0, he led by a double break it looked like he still had his chance to win, with the match bound to go into a third set.
But that 3-0 lead proved to be David's last hurrah in this match.
Still fighting and still playing better than in the first set, David now ran out of what gas he still had left, while Nadal gained more and more momentum. And in the end, when Nadal closed out the match after only 78 minutes David had lost the last six consecutive games - from 3-0 for David to 6-3 for Nadal.

So the end of it wasn't really pretty. But although the final will have been a big disappointment for David, the positive aspects from this week should outweigh the frustration. I'd love to be able to tell you what David himself had to say after the match. But I haven't been able to find any interviews or quotes.
Something that's bound to be different this week, when David returns to Buenos Aires for the Copa Claro. His first match, against Charly Berlocq, will take place either Tuesday or Wednesday and hopefully in the night session as it seems that just like last year, only the first match of the night session will be streamed.

And then there is, last but not least, the ranking. I'll admit that at the beginning of last week I thought we might see David drop out of the Top100 today, when the new rankings come out. But now his runner-up points have taken him up 15 places to #78. And it's good to see David listed as one of the "Movers" on the ATP website, with that little green arrow pointing upwards next to his name.

(Andre Penner/AP Photo)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

São Paulo Final - David vs Rafael Nadal

In the end, it was not the trophy but the runner-up plate for David. After merely 78 minutes on court, Rafael Nadal prevailed 6-2, 6-3. Not the end that David will have had in mind but it's still been a great comeback week for him.
Next up is now the Copa Claro, David's home tournament.
Wrap-up post about the final and the week at São Paulo coming tomorrow.

(Inovaphoto; montage by VD)

On Tuesday, they practiced together and then played and won a doubles match together. Now, five days later, the two of them will walk onto the centre court at São Paulo again (on Tuesday it looked like this) but this time as opponents in the final - David no longer with but now against Rafael Nadal.

Few could have foreseen - and I certainly didn't - that David's first tournament would end this way, with an appearance in the final. A great comeback after a long absence and an amazing return to form during this week. And no matter what happens today, David has already exceeded the expectations.
Still, now the title is within his reach and even though he'll face the King of Clay today, there's probably never been a better time for playing against Nadal on clay than right now. On the comeback trail himself after a seven-month pause, Nadal lost the final at Viña del Mar to Horacio Zeballos last week. He dropped sets against Charly Berlocq and also against Martin Alund yesterday. In short, Nadal seems vulnerable and he has a problem with the conditions, which are too fast for his taste.

So far, David and Rafa Nadal have only met on hardcourt. David won at Madrid and Paris 2007, indoors. Since then it's been four wins in a row for Nadal, all of them outdoors, most recently in the quarterfinal at Indian Wells, last year. And as is usually the case if he plays against Nadal, David had his chances.
Today, indoors and on a fast-playing court against a vulnerable Nadal - anything seems possible.

Finally (and thanks to Andvari for alerting me to it) - there's been a time change in Brazil last night.
And that means the starting time is still 1pm local but 4pm GMT and 11am EST.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

David Beats Bolelli & Makes São Paulo Final

(Getty Images)

They say that the really good players also manage to win matches if they're not at their best. In that case, today's match makes David a really good player. He wasn't playing his best tennis, he was often half a step late, getting to the ball, and apart from that he was also quite grumpy. But he still found a way of winning this match and in the end, after 85 minutes on court he defeated Simone Bolelli 6-3, 7-5.
In tomorrow's final both David and his opponent will come full circle, so to speak. They played their first match at São Paulo together and now they'll play their last match against each other - David and Rafa.
It'll be the seventh time they meet on the Tour but the first match they play on clay.

Initially, it looked like today's match would be plain sailing for David. After about 10 minutes he led 4-0 and Bolelli had yet to win a point on his own serve. When David dropped his own serve, however (for 4-1) the Italian began to find his way into the match. But David held on to the other break and eventually served out the set without difficulty, closing it out with an ace.
The second set was a rather close affair and saw altogether five breaks of serve. The first David gifted Bolelli with two double faults in a row (for 3-1) but then managed to break straight back. At 3-3, Bolelli lost his serve again on a double fault that consisted of only one serve (but also a penalty, I think, as it was his second time warning). But David couldn't consolidate the break so at 4-4 they were back on serve. The decisive fifth break in this set David finally got (after saving a couple of game points) to go up 6-5. And after setting up match point with his last ace of the day David converted it as Bolelli failed to make the return.

It was a different David we saw on court today and I thought it was obvious that the match against Almagro, brilliant as it was, had taken its toll. He was that half step slower and not quite as solid on serve. But it was also a different strategy he had in this match, playing almost all of the rallies from the baseline instead of taking risks and mixing it up like against Almagro. He played it safe, you could say - but it worked out.
For my part, I think it's completely understandable that his level dropped a little after playing a match yesterday that must've cost an awful lot of energy. And I think he handled the situation really well. The part of this match I didn't really like was David first arguing with the chair umpire and then with Lars Graff (apparently ATP supervisor now) about a linecall at 1-1 in the second set. But at least it didn't take very long for him to focus again.
And now David is in the final. At his first tournament in almost half a year. If tomorrow he plays like he did today it'll be really difficult. But if he can find a way of playing like he did against Almagro...

Here's what David had to say after the match:

Apart from all that there's the draw ceremony for next week's Copa Claro that took place today:

(tournament website)
And what came out of it for David, as mentioned in the comments, is a first-round encounter with his Davis Cup teammate Charly Berlocq and then a possible meeting with David Ferrer in round 2.
The complete draw you'll find here.
But before we move on to the Copa Claro, there's still another match David has to play at São Paulo...

São Paulo SF - David vs Simone Bolelli

It wasn't pretty but it was enough to get the win in the end - David has defeated Simone Bolelli 6-3, 7-5 to reach his first ATP final since the Queen's Club last summer (and who could forget that one).
And what a final it's going to be...
Post coming later tonight (European time).

(Terra/Inovaphoto; montage by VD)

It's semifinals day at the Brasil Open - and David is still in the draw at his comeback event. Today, he's up against someone he has never played against before but knows apparently. Question: What do David and Simone Bolelli have in common? They've both successfully played doubles with Horacio Zeballos, David in Davis Cup, while Bolelli and Horacio won a doubles title together, at Munich in 2011.

Simone Bolelli, 27 years old by now, was ranked as high as #36 back in early 2009. But for some reason, he sort of dropped off the radar afterwards. And the last three years he mostly spent playing Challenger events, ranked more or less far away from the Top100 (at the moment, he's ranked #80). This week at São Paulo, however, Bolelli has shown himself to be in very good form with his straight-set victories over Tommy Robredo, Pico and Albert Montañes.

It's been years since I saw Bolelli play a match. That was probably in his heyday, back in 2008/9. But what I recall is that I found his game quite flashy, which is to say elegant and characterised by good shotmaking. And though Bolelli himself apparently thinks of his forehand as his best shot, I'd say his single-handed backhand as well can be dangerous.

Asked about this match, David said he expects it to be similar to the quarterfinal. And so far, Bolelli has served extremely well this week. So it could once more be about taking advantage of the few chances you get. As well as about how much David has left in the tank after yesterday. - We'll find out. In the semifinal. With David.

David Downs Defending Champion Almagro

Ahead of the match yesterday, I wrote that (after Aguilar and Pella) Nicolas Almagro would be the first real test for David. He was - but one that David passed with flying colours, prevailing 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(3).
And not even 28 aces, the equivalent of 7 service games, could save the defending champion. In the end, Almagro won three points more than David. But it was David, who won more of the important points - and that's not always the case with him.
In today's semifinal, he will now face Simone Bolelli, currently ranked #80. It will be David's first match against the Italian but apparently, he knows who Bolelli is (see clip below).
But back to yesterday's quarterfinal. A very brief chronology of events.

After David saved a first couple of break points at 1-1, Almagro threw in a poor game and double-faulted to grant him an unexpected break for 4-2. It was the only break David got in this match but he handed it straight back with a poor game of his own. Back on serve, David had a first set point at 6-5. Almagro's response: 3 aces in a row. In the tiebreak, David got the decisive mini-break for 6-4 and then converted what was his altogether third set point. 7-6(5)
In the second set, it was Almagro who saved a couple of break points at 1-1. David remained solid in his service games until a couple of forehand errors and a double fault cost him his serve, to give Almagro a 5-3 lead. Four points later, he took the set, 6-3.
In the third set both held easily until 4-4. In the following game David faced and saved two break points and then he did the same again at 5-5. In the eventual tiebreak, David slipped during the first rally (pic) but immediately recovered the resulting mini-break. After another mini-break at 3-3, David had 3 match points at 6-3, Almagro had to rely on a second serve - and David hit a clean return winner. 7-6(3)

A close and thrilling match and a hard-fought victory over a strong opponent. But most of all a simply amazing performance from David, in every department. After all, it was the kind of match that depended on what you can't train or recreate on the practice court - those notorious important moments. Especially last season, David lost a number of matches because he didn't manage to raise his game when it really mattered. But yesterday, playing only his third match after almost half a year away from the Tour, David played two excellent tiebreaks and also saved altogether four break points during the decisive stage of the third set (and in courageous fashion, I might add). He knew he wouldn't get too many chances in this match but he managed to make the most out of those that he got.
That David's game remains intact even after long pauses is something he has proven before. If his serve is more stable now (as I'm beginning to hope after this match), we'll see. And how much this match has taken out of him, the semifinal will show. But this match and this kind of victory is something we didn't get to see from David in a long time. And whatever may happen today, it's a great start for the season.

The last words (in English) I'll leave to David, about the match and about his next opponent:

Friday, February 15, 2013

São Paulo QF - David vs Nicolas Almagro

David has defeated the defending champion - after two hours and eighteen minutes and despite 28 aces he defeated Nicolas Almagro 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(3) for a place in the semifinal. There, his opponent will be Simone Bolelli. It will be their first meeting.
More tomorrow plus the draw for the Copa Claro.

(Inovaphoto; montage by VD)

On the Tour, there are certain players David gets along with particularly well. Most of those players are either Argentineans or Spaniards, and one of the Spaniards is Nicolas Almagro. You may remember the laughter and the banter when they met at the Copa Argentina last December. And according to Almagro, "there's always some entertaining stuff that happens" in their matches. During the rallies, that is.

At São Paulo this week, everything seems to revolve around Rafa Nadal. But whenever the tournament website speaks of the "King of the Brasil Open" then it's not Rafa they're referring to but Nicolas Almagro. Champion at this event a record-breaking three times, twice at Costa do Sauipe and then also last year when it moved to São Paulo. The Golden Swing in general is usually Almagro's best part of the season.

David and Almagro (currently ranked #11) have met five times so far, with the overall match record at 3-2 in David's favour. On clay, however, it's Almagro, who leads 2-1, including the final of Acapulco 2008, which he won in straights. Whereas, somewhat surprisingly perhaps, David's only victory over Almagro on clay came in one of the last matches he played before hip surgery (at Barcelona 2009).
Nicolas Almagro is not what I'd call an easy match-up for David. Mostly because of his serve but also because he's able to simply beat David for speed with his groundstrokes. Add to that a strong backhand and the ability to exploit David's movement by going down the line. Although both of them could be struggling with their movement today, depending on the state of the (much criticised) court.
But one thing is certain - this will be the first real test for David.

David Outplays (& Outserves) Pella

(Wagner Carmo/Inovaphoto)

There are those days when David plays great tennis, when he serves particularly well and simply marches through the match without ever getting in danger of as much as dropping his serve. Those days don't happen all that often but sometimes, they do occur. And preferably, or so it seems, when there's no coverage. Like yesterday, when David needed little more than an hour to defeat Guido Pella 6-4, 6-2.
A match that, on the scoreboard at least, was reminiscent of the way he marched through the early rounds at Washington, back in 2010 (when there was also no coverage).

After all, it doesn't happen very often that David...

- doesn't get to face any break points or even deuces on serve
- breaks three times and consolidates those breaks twice to love and once to 15
- makes 77% first serves during a set and
- wins 100% of points on his second serve (both of which happened in the second set)
- hits almost 28% of his first serves in this match as aces (8/29)
- serves out both the first set and the match to love (including two aces in the final game)

Yesterday, all of that did happen - and nobody saw it. With Rafa Nadal's first singles match taking place at the same time, apparently only a handful of people found their way over to Court 1. But those who did probably didn't regret their decision.

Ahead of the match, Guido Pella tweeted that for him, playing against David, one the "greats in the history of Argentina", would be something to enjoy and to learn from, though he'd try to win, of course. Here's what he tweeted after the match:
I did my best David played very well good luck for the tournament
And a bit of luck would be welcome, while another great serve performance will be needed in the quarterfinal today, against Nicolas Almagro.

(Wagner Carmo/Inovaphoto)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

São Paulo R2 - David vs Guido Pella


And the winner of the Argentine battle of the generations is - David. It took him only 73 minutes (during which he didn't face a single break point) to beat Guido Pella 6-4, 6-2.
In the quarterfinal tomorrow, David's opponent will be the defending champion Nicolas Almagro.
More tomorrow...

(Inovaphoto/Getty Images; montage by VD)

6.33pm local - David's match is now next up on Court 1. And on the scoreboard.

Merely two weeks ago, the two of them practiced together at the Parque Roca - Guido Pella was one of the team's hitting partners ahead of the tie against Germany. And they played at least one match against each other, back in 2010 when David wanted to test if he was fit enough to play Davis Cup in Stockholm. But today's match will be the first official encounter between David and Guido Pella.

It's a special relationship that Pella, the 22-year-old lefty, must have with São Paulo and with this particular venue, as it was here that he won the ATP Challenger Tour Final last year (with a victory over Adrian Ungur in the final). Winning the title got Pella inside the Top100 for the first time in his career (at #92 this week, he's currently ranked one place above David). And on Tuesday, he scored his first ever win at ATP level by taking out sixth seed Fabio Fognini.

David will know what to expect from his opponent in this match, he knows him and his game well enough. The question will be if he can consolidate his own game, and how he'll hold up physically. But all of that will be decided on one of  São Paulo's charming outside courts (see photo below), and that means the only way of following this match will be the scoreboard.

Edit: All matches scheduled for Court 2 have been moved to Court 1, as the holes in Court 2 could apparently not be repaired quickly enough.
According to the new schedule, David's match will now be the 4th match on Court 1.


All Beginnings Are Difficult - David Overcomes Aguilar

It was David's comeback after nearly six months, it was more difficult than expected, and it was a match that basically consisted of three different parts - the horrible start, the great middle part and the not quite as great but still successful end. And after over two hours on court that contained everything from masterful play to the most gruesome of errors, David beat Jorge Aguilar 7-5, 5-7, 6-3.
In the second round today (on Court 2 without streams) David's opponent will be Guido Pella, a fellow Argentine but at 22 years of age from a different generation of players. It'll be their first official encounter but they know each other.

While David is often a bit of a slow starter, the early stages of yesterday's match looked more like a catastrophe in the making. After fifteen minutes on court, he was down a double break, moving badly
and making errors left and right. But there was a simple explanation for it, according to David:
(Gaspar Nobrega/Inovaphoto)
The conditions are very difficult. The court and the ball are very difficult to control. I began the match experiencing sensations that were not very good. That made it hard for me in the first four games but then I adapted. (Source.)
And the tables began to turn as soon as David had managed to win his first game. Finding his stride now and playing his best tennis of the match at this stage David recovered both breaks and eventually took the first set 7-5.
At this point, he seemed in complete control of the match and likely to breeze through the second set in no time. But the momentum from the first set was gone. At 3-3 David barely managed to hold serve, at 5-5 he got broken, allowing Jorge Aguilar to take the second set 7-5.
In the third, Aguilar basically gifted David the decisive break to go up 4-2 before David eventually served out the match without difficulty, converting his first match point (the last two points you can watch in the clip above).

Some rust was to be expected in this match. And it was visible, in the way he sometimes struggled to find the right shot, in some of his more haphazard advances to the net (only to get passed) and also in how it took him until the third set to put some of his standard shot combinations to good and effective use.
A positive surprise in this match was David's serve and the very respectable numbers that he posted on it (a solid 61% first serves, 11 aces and 5 double faults). Though with David, these stats always look better when he gets to play indoors.

Speaking of the conditions, they are difficult at São Paulo, David is not the only player to have complained about the balls and above all about the surface (which claimed its first victim yesterday in Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo). So David can probably only be blamed for some of the many unforced errors (and especially return errors) that he made yesterday.
The question mark remains to be his fitness. To me, he looked tired, already in the early stages of the second set. Right now, he still lacks match practice and toughness, mentally as well as physically.
But playing matches will take care of that - now that David is back.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

São Paulo R1 - David vs Jorge Aguilar

Just in case anybody forgot about the good old rollercoaster ride that David's matches tend to be...
But what matters is that he got the win in the end - 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 after two hours and twelve minutes.

Edit: David and Rafa have pulled out of the doubles competition.
Or in David's words: "It's unfortunate what happened. Rafa will focus on singles." (Source.)
So no more tennis for David today but the second round against Guido Pella tomorrow - without streams.

More about today's match (plus photos and if possible clips) tomorrow, ahead of the second round.

(Inovaphoto; montage by VD)

On a Wednesday afternoon in late August, almost six months ago, David played his last official singles match at Winston-Salem. Today, 175 days later, on a Wednesday afternoon in February, he'll finally play an official singles match again. It's been a long pause, also by David's standards. But now he's back.

David's opponent today will be Jorge Aguilar from Chile, 28 years old and usually at home, playing clay-court Challenger and Future events in South America. For Aguilar, currently ranked #191, it'll be the ninth match he gets to play at ATP level and probably one of the biggest matches in his career.
Whereas for David, it'll be the first test under match conditions (in singles, that is). A first chance to see where he stands, physically as well as in terms of his game, at the beginning of the new season.

Today's match will be the first meeting between David and Jorge Aguilar. I've never seen the Chilean play before and it's probably safe to say that the same goes for David. But he'll be focusing on himself and on executing his game. And hopefully, it'll be a good start.

No Coverage but a Victory for David & Rafa

In the end, there was no stream for it. But at least, David's and Rafa Nadal's first ever doubles match was a success - though it was close. After trailing 7-9 in the match tiebreak (played instead of a third set) and after saving two match points David and Rafa eventually managed to beat Pablo Andujar and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 3-6, 11-9. After 79 minutes on court that seem to have been fun for both of them, judging by the photos from the match (a number of those now on the Photo Page).

(William Lucas/Inovaphoto)

In any case, their close victory last night means there'll be a rather interesting match-up in the second round of doubles tonight. When David and Rafa will be up against Oliver Marach and Horacio Zeballos.
But - no stream for the doubles.

Before the doubles match, however, and with coverage: David's singles debut.

More soon.

Edit: Here's another clip that includes the match point:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

São Paulo: Doubles with David & Rafa

(AP Photo)

10.42pm local - The doubles match has begun - and there's no coverage, after all.

10.15pm local - At last..... David & Rafa now up next.
9.13pm local - And now a third (and final) set before the doubles can finally begin...
9.10pm local - Correct that, now it's listed on StreamHunter again.
8.38pm local - It's all taking a bit longer than expected and it'll take at least another set until David and Rafa get to play their match. As I've just seen, the match is no longer listed for a stream, neither on Bet365 nor on StreamHunter. No idea, why...

They like to train together, they play PlayStation games together (or against each other) and they both invariably speak very highly of each other. But this is a first: Today, for the first time ever in an official match, they'll be on the same side of the net. David and Rafael Nadal. Playing doubles together.

It may not seem that way after the recent Davis Cup match but David, playing doubles on the Tour is not something you get to see all the time. Or rather, it's not anymore. Ever since hip surgery, David has played singles and doubles at the same tournament merely once a year, if at all. But for Rafa, currently on the comeback trail after an even longer absence than himself, David is making one of those relatively rare exceptions. Perhaps it's something they always wanted to do at some point.

Their opponents today will be Pablo Andujar and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, so David will be the only one not from Spain on court in this match. Andujar and Garcia-Lopez play doubles on a fairly regular though not exclusive basis. They have some exprience but no doubles titles to their name.

In singles, David will play his first match tomorrow, against Jorge Aguilar (ranked #191). At São Paulo, he's defending quarterfinal points from last year and at #93 this week (with his Davis Cup points from Bamberg gone now) it'll take another quarterfinal appearance to keep him inside the Top100.

But first things first - doubles with David & Rafa. And with coverage.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

São Paulo Draws

So here it is, the draw for David's first tournament since August, last year.
He has been drawn into the bottom, i.e. Almagro's half, which looks like this:

[7] Pablo Andujar (ESP) vs Santiago Giraldo (COL)
Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) vs Albert Montañes (ESP)
[WC] Tommy Robredo (ESP) vs Simone Bolelli (ITA)
BYE vs [3] Juan Monaco (ARG)

[6] Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs Guido Pella (ARG)
David Nalbandian (ARG) vs [Q] Jorge Aguilar (CHI)
Horacio Zeballos (ARG) vs [Q] Paul Capdeville (CHI)
BYE vs [2] Nicolas Almagro (ESP)

The complete singles draw you'll find here.

In doubles, David and Rafa are in the bottom half of the draw, as well:

Nadal (ESP) & Nalbandian (ARG) vs Andujar (ESP) & Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
Marach (AUT) & Zeballos (ARG) vs [4] Dlouhy (CZE) & Sa (BRA)
Cabal (COL) & Giraldo (COL) vs [WC] Clezar (BRA) & Elias (POR)
Ramirez-Hidalgo (ESP) & Robredo (ESP) vs [2] Peya (AUT) & Soares (BRA)

Complete doubles draw here.

According to the tournament site, David's and Rafa's first-round match will take place on Tuesday, at around 8.30pm local time.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Look ahead at the Golden Swing

After playing his first match of the year in Davis Cup last weekend, now the ATP season as well will soon begin for David. And it will start with a part of the calendar that he enjoys playing - the South American clay-court tournaments, also known as the Golden Swing. Taking him home and closer to home than he gets to be all season, and therefore a fixed component of David's schedule.
This year, he'll play the same tournaments that he also played last year. The only difference being that this time, there's a week between the Davis Cup tie and São Paulo. And with it an opportunity to get ready for playing three weeks in a row.
You may remember how ahead of the tie, there was talk of David, having problems with his right calf, something he dismissed as just the usual pre-season soreness. After the tie, however, Martin Jaite talked about how well David did "despite his calf injury" (source). Whether there still are any problems with David's calf or whether they merely affected his ability to train ahead of the tie - we'll have to wait and see.
In any case, here's what he has planned for the next three weeks:

Brasil Open, São Paulo (February 11-17)

For David, the ATP season begins at the only tournament that's played on indoor clay, the Brasil Open. Previously held outdoors at Costa do Sauipe, the tournament was relocated to São Paulo last year. David took part in the first new edition and it was a very warm welcome that he received from the crowd, despite the traditional animosities in sports between Argentina and Brazil. Therefore it's not really surprising that he now returns to São Paulo, where he reached the quarterfinal last year.
As has been mentioned before, David will also play doubles at this event, together with Rafa Nadal.
The draws will be released on Saturday, with the doubles draw taking place at 2pm local, while the time for the singles draw has yet to be confirmed.
Also on the entry list: Pico, Charly Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos - Davis Cup team reunion in Brazil.

 Copa Claro, Buenos Aires (February 18-24)
(Sergio Llamera/Copa Claro)

After his 25th Davis Cup tie here's another anniversary for David: This year, it'll be the 10th time that he plays the ATP tournament in Buenos Aires, currently known as Copa Claro, previously known as Copa Telmex - David's home event. Held at the only tournament venue he gets to play at twice every year, the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club that also hosts the Copa Argentina exhibition. Especially the night matches at the BALTC are something special and last year, David got to play four of those as he reached the semifinal. His second one at this event, along with four quarterfinal appearances and the title that he won in 2008, all of which makes it one of David's best events. And it's surely the one he truly enjoys playing, in front of his home crowd.
The draw for this year's Copa Claro will come out on Saturday, 16/02.
On top of the entry list (just like last year): David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro and Stanislas Wawrinka.

 Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco (February 25 - March 2)
(Getty Images)

Or "the crowning jewel of the Golden Swing" - as the ATP website likes to call it. Acapulco is traditionally the last and also the biggest tournament of the Golden Swing - though that's going to change next year with the introduction of the new 500 event in Rio. For David, it's going to be the sixth appearance at Acapulco, a tournament where he reached the final back in 2008 but apart from that usually went out in the first round. Which is also what happened last year. Still, Acapulco is always worth a visit. And if not for playing tennis then for hanging out on the beach (see pic).
Right now, David is two withdrawals away from making the main draw. But he can apparently count on receiving a wild card if he needs one as he hasn't entered qualifying.
The date and time of the draw ceremony haven't been published yet.
On the entry list: Everyone playing the Golden Swing will be at Acapulco. Nadal, Ferrer, Almagro and Wawrinka but also Pico, Charly Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Davis Cup vs Germany - An Interview as an Epilogue


Before we'll focus on the Golden Swing, starting with São Paulo, David's first ATP tournament of the season, here's one more post about the Davis Cup, in the wake of Argentina's unexpectedly clear and easy first-round victory over Germany.

As mentioned in the previous post, the celebrations and reactions afterwards included some digs at Delpo. In the meantime, however, Martin Jaite has said that he's planning to call Delpo, to ask him to play the quarterfinal tie (source). And some adjustments have been made. While Pico denied that any disrespectful songs were sung in the locker room, Horacio apologised via his Twitter, stating that he didn't want to offend anybody with what he said in the press conference and that Delpo is a great player, who always wants Argentina to win. In short, there's been a major round of back-pedalling.

The one who hasn't taken back anything he said or insinuated, also ahead of the tie ("playing Davis Cup is not a choice you make but an obligation that you feel") is David. Here's what he told Mariano Ryan and Miguel Angel Bertolotto for Clarin. About the Davis Cup in general and also about Delpo.
Q: David, how much longer are you going to try and play Davis Cup?

David: Until I lose the desire, the motivation to play tennis. That's what it'll depend on.

Q: When you retire from the Tour you'll also retire from Davis Cup.

David: It's very difficult to only play Davis Cup without being on the Tour. Without rhythm, without match practice, without anything. It's complicated. Time will tell.

Q: It's clear that the only strong motivation you have left is the Davis Cup.

David: Strong, yeah, obviously. Definitely.

Q: If you were ten years younger and could start your Davis Cup career all over again, what would you do differently and which things that you did would you do again?

David: I'd do everything the same again.

Q: You don't regret any decision that you made?

David: No, not in Davis Cup, I think. I always gave everything I could in every tie, sometimes it went well, sometimes it didn't, sometimes it did more or less. Whenever I didn't play it was because I really couldn't play tennis. Fortunately, I did a half-decent job of rising to the occasion.

Q: In the three finals you played, were there mistakes that were made or were the opponents too strong?

David: Against Spain, in Mar del Plata, we lost the final, ourselves. It clearly was a tie that we should've won. In Russia and in Sevilla we lost because the opponents were better than we were.

Q: How much do you need Del Potro to win the Davis Cup?

David: Juan Martin is an extremely important player for the team, no doubt about that. Not being able to count on him now is a shame.

Q: Is it impossible for you to achieve your last great dream without Del Potro? Or do you still see a chance for it to happen?

David: Everything is possible but Argentina has a better chance to win if he plays. Everybody knows that. Though there were also doubts about how we were going to beat Germany and in the end we won 5-0. Then again the opponents get tougher as you make your way through the rounds.

Q: What's your relationship with Del Potro like? Zero?

David: It's a relationship between teammates.

Q: But Del Potro isn't part of the team now.

David: But on the Tour, yes. There, I have more of a relationship with him than I do with other players but he's just another teammate.

Q: Do you understand why he's determined not to play Davis Cup this year?

David: I respect his decision because everybody shapes their own career as they want.

Q: But you don't share his decision.

David: I made a different choice. But we're not all the same and as I said, this is the kind of career where each and everyone chooses the path they want and they like best. And that's perfect.

Q: If another one of your teammates did the same thing like Del Potro, for example Monaco, would you talk to him?

David: But that's the same. Those are individual decisions. What you'r talking about is too hypothetical. It didn't happen. If it happened, I'd respect each player's decision.

Q: Does it bother you that always, with every tie, there's the question about the unity of the team? About how united the team is or isn't...

David: Those are comments made by the media. We try to do things the best way we can. And then the media have to fill pages...

Q: Still, the reality is that ever since the days of Vilas and Clerc there have been obvious differences [between players on the Argentine team].

David: I can't say anything about those days because I wasn't there. Yeah, I can talk about what I've experienced these last few years. Among the players and within the teams there are always differences. Small ones or big ones, from something important to the training schedule, because someone would like to train earlier or later. It's stupid. I've had five different captains and I must've had fifteen different teammates. And you always have one, who likes one thing and another, who likes something else. Everybody has their moods, their personality, their stuff. There are always differences, that's the way it is. I always say that if you want to win it the Davis Cup has to be above all differences, whether big or small. If not then it's impossible to win it. You'll never have a team of four, five, six players where everybody agrees to train at the same hour, to eat the same food at the same time. Because we're not used to that, to being on a team. Well, I'll say it again, the Davis Cup has to be above those issues.

Q: Apart from playing well, the secret to winning the Davis Cup is to smooth out these differences.

David: The secret is to win. They can all be fighting but if you still win, you win. They can all be close friends and if you lose, you go to the Zonal Group. That's why the secret is to win. You can do it better or worse, you can have a better or worse environment, be closer to one or the other but in the end what matters is winning. We get together on Sunday evening [for the traditional team meeting]. If we couldn't get together some day but still played on the weekend and won... If that happened, who'd say that not getting together is bad?

Q: How would you rank the joy of having defeated Germany compared to other victories?

David: It's very difficult to compare. In each tie, different things happen, for better or for worse. But those days have been very good for everybody. Each one of us practiced what he had to practice, each one of us knew what he had to do. Even if we had lost we would've been satisfied with this way of working. And then you can win or lose, those are the rules in sports. Fortunately, we won... That's right, the 5-0 was a surprise for us. We were expecting a more complicated tie.

Q: Next up will be France...

David: A very tough opponent, tougher than Germany. Because of the number of players they have and the different possibilities. If the number 8 [in the world] can't be there, it'll be number 11... If number 11 isn't there, here comes number 14...

Q: What the weekend has shown once again is that the love story between you and the people is unshakeable.

David: The things that happen in Davis Cup are unique, for better or for worse. It's very nice to experience so much emotion. And I feel that the support by the people is unconditional, whether I play singles or doubles. The people appreciate whatever match I play, what I can give or not give to Argentina. This kind of recognition is incomparable.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

David is Back & Argentina is in the Quarterfinal

Ahead of the weekend, everybody, including both team captains, expected this to be very close and a dramatic tie that wouldn't be decided before Sunday. But it was all to turn out completely differently and in the end, David and Horacio Zeballos secured the third point for Argentina already in the doubles. Just like last year, by the way, when both teams met in Bamberg, also in the first round.
In the quarterfinal, which will take place after the Masters in Miami, Argentina's next opponent will now be France (who beat Israel 5-0). The last encounter between these two nations took place in the semifinal 2010, held in Lyon. And the less said about that weekend, the better.

But back to this weekend. And the turn of events that no one could foresee - Philipp Kohlschreiber having to pull out due to injury. Davis Cup ties normally don't get decided in the first rubber but in this particular case, you could say that's what happened, with the German team not only losing its best player but also losing hope after his withdrawal. Still, that's not to take anything away from Charly Berlocq and from Pico, who both did an excellent job against difficult opponents, in very difficult conditions. Just like, though they had it easier yesterday, Horacio Zeballos and David.

(AP Photo)
Yesterday's doubles was not only decisive for the outcome of the tie, it was also David's first official match since August 22, 2012. And not surprisingly, those five and a half months without competitive tennis were noticeable.
A bit of general rustiness, a somewhat shaky shot selection - the usual signs of a comeback after a longer pause. Something else that was noticeable is that David has put on a few kilos again. What that means for his movement on court the next few tournaments will have to show.
Still, all in all, and despite a rather wobbly serve performance (which also had to be expected perhaps), it was a good comeback from David, and it was a return in style - scoring the decisive victory.
For my part, I still think that David and Edu Schwank is the best doubles Argentina can muster (Edu was courtside, supporting the team). But if Edu can't play then Horacio is definitely the best alternative.

Here's a clip of David, getting interviewed directly after the match:

He's very happy, they played a great match. It's been a great week with the guys on the team, training together though it was tough because of the heat. But now he's super happy and the support from the crowd is always impressive, it's been an unforgettable week with the guys.
Asked, humorously, whether he'll still be playing in April (i.e.the quarterfinal), David replies he has to ask the captain, who, off camera, says yes. So that's what he'll do, it's a great team they have and hopefully they'll be at their best for the next tie. As for the possibility of facing relegation, he's read a lot about that this week but they've shown that the team that was present is very strong, playing at home and they have great players.

If you think that the last part of the interview contains a hint at a player, who wasn't present, well, then you're right. And that's not the end of it. At the post-match press conference, David, Horacio and Jaite were asked if they had received any personal greetings or congratulations from Delpo (who posted a tweet to that end). Jaite and David said no, Horacio added, "from who? - no" (you can watch that little scene here). Apart from that, in the locker room after the match, the whole team apparently sang a couple of newly made-up songs, celebrating their triumph but also making fun of Delpo, the one who "watched it all on TV" (source). All of which probably doesn't increase the chances of Delpo, returning to the team. Even though Martin Jaite keeps saying that this is what he'd like to see happen.


Last but not at all least, ahead of the match yesterday, five Argentine players received the ITF's Commitment Award for having played 20 or more Davis Cup ties. From left to right with their awards in hand: Ricardo Cano (23 ties), the great Guillermo Vilas (who played a record-breaking 81 matches in 29 ties), David (now at 25 ties), Javier Frana (20 ties) and José Luis Clerc (55 matches in 22 ties).

For David, yesterday's doubles was Davis Cup match number 49. It was the 20th doubles rubber that he played for Argentina, with 7 different partners over the years, and the 15th that he won. Though the most important of them all he lost. Out of the 29 singles rubbers David has played over the years he won 23.
A list that includes matches he should've never played because he was injured but that didn't stop him.
David and the Davis Cup - it's an obsession and sometimes, it's sheer madness. And in his more pensive moments he'll admit as much. But it's also what has kept him going.

(La Nacion)
So that was it, Davis Cup weekend number 25 for David. He's officially back now and the 2013 season has finally begun. And that as well is cause for celebration.
David now gets a week off ahead of playing his first tournament of the season at São Paulo (where he'll play singles and also doubles together with Rafa), before heading back to Buenos Aires for the Copa Claro and then on to Acapulco.
Some busy weeks ahead, for him and for us.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Davis Cup vs Germany - Day 2: Doubles with David

(Eduardo Di Baia/AP Photo)

David and Horacio have done it: They've clinched the tie for Argentina with their 6-1, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Christopher Kas and Tobias Kamke. So it's another quarterfinal for David and the team and not the World Group play-offs. There, Argentina will meet France. It'll be another home tie for Argentina (April 5-7).

A big, long post about the tie and David's comeback and the award he got and everything else tomorrow.
Edit: Lots of photos from the match now on the Photo Page.


It was supposed to be a crucial match at a potentially difficult stage, against a well-versed doubles team. Now the doubles will still be a crucial match but the situation for David and Horacio Zeballos could hardly be any better - with Argentina up 2-0 and Germany's best player out of the doubles and out of the tie.
As mentioned in the previous update, Philipp Kohlschreiber suffered a severe hamstring tear yesterday.
Therefore David and Horacio will be up against Germany's "emergency doubles", consisting of Christopher Kas, playing with Tobias Kamke (source).

So it's David's and Horacio's chance today to secure a place for Argentina in the quarterfinal - five and a half months (164 days) after David's last official match at Winston-Salem. And almost three years after David's and Horacio's first and rather memorable doubles rubber in Stockholm 2010.
Perhaps, there couldn't be a more appropriate setting for David's return than this - playing a potentially decisive Davis Cup match at the Parque Roca  (and he'll also receive his Commitment Award ahead of the match today).

It's difficult to know what to expect from David, after almost half a year without competitive tennis. And it's also difficult to know what to expect from the German doubles and the match in general. But now David is back at last and in the words of Pico:
We have faith in him. Everybody knows that he's the king.