Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Chilean Mystery & Another Interview

On Wednesday, November 20, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will play an exhibition at the Movistar Arena in Santiago de Chile (they will also meet in Buenos Aires, on the day after David's match against Nadal). And the event will include Nicolas Massu's farewell, in form of a match against - David?

That's what the Chilean press has been reporting. And now, as you can see here, the organisers have added David's photo and name to the poster for the event. While David's official site still insists that his next match will be the first of the two exhibitions with Nadal. And nothing has been heard from David or his camp about a match against Massu.
In other words, we'll have to wait and see if David will play in Chile. It would be on the day before his exhibition with Nadal in Córdoba.

David was at the BALTC today, where together with Martin Jaite he answered questions by junior players.

And then there's the interview I still owe you.

Some bits and pieces from it...

A good head for tennis
Having one is, in David's opinion, all about recognising the opponent's strengths and weaknesses as well as knowing when to play which shot, where to and why. So that every shot has a purpose. He agrees that he has a pretty good head for tennis and adds that he tried to win points from everywhere on court.

A private decision
The decision to retire began to form in his head when he realised that it would be impossible for him to play the Davis Cup semifinal in Prague. After that he went back to his family and he talked a bit with them about the situation. But he prefers to make his decisions on his own - and he also did in this case.

Opponents who brought out the best in him
In David's opinion: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt and Guillermo Coria. Whenever he beat any of them it was because he was playing his very best tennis.
(David previously also mentioned Safin as perhaps the most difficult opponent for him.)

How the game has changed
Tennis is faster now than it was when he started playing on the Tour and players usually don't have a glaring weakness in their game anymore. By now, basically all players are complete and able to hit the ball very hard from every position on court.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The TV Interview(s)

Giving interviews has never been one of David's favourite ways to spend his time. But now that he is officially retired, it's all a bit more relaxed. - Or at least that's the impression you get when you watch the clips from the TV interview that David gave Gonzalo Bonadeo for TyC Sports and that aired on Thursday. As well as the other interview David gave on that occasion (see below).
So here's a summary of the parts I got to see, plus some photos from my archives. In David's words:

(Cancha Llena)
In order to become a tennis player you have to make a lot of sacrifices. When he was still going to school he'd train all afternoon and on the weekends he'd play tournaments. Your whole life revolves around the sport. He was twelve years old when he first started travelling because of tennis. At that age he was playing tournaments in Argentina, had been since age ten. But then they (the Argentine team) became world champions when he was fourteen it all got much more serious and they focused on turning pro. And if that's what you want you already have to lead the same kind of life. As boys he played together with Guillermo Coria, in the same category and they saw themselves as different from the rest When they were fourteen, fifteen they were already looking ahead, to players like Zabaleta, Puerta and Cañas and there were many others who also played well and they couldn't be sure whether they'd be able to turn pro.
Asked with whom he'd rather be on court, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, David says the two of them are very different. He has known Federer for a long time, since junior days. Rafa appeared on the scene a few years later, and their styles of playing are very different. He likes Rafa's game better because his shots are higher, with a bigger net clearance. Whereas Roger, when he's playing well, he hardly gives you the chance to see the ball. Federer has been more difficult to overcome because if Rafa loses confidence his shots get too short and his level drops, which makes him more accessible. Whereas Federer's level doesn't vary that much and he has more weapons he can use.

(Getty Images)
Back in 2005 he went to Shanghai with a "team" that consisted of Diego Rodriguez, David's mother and his girlfriend. It was an incredible tournament, though there was of course some luck involved as he didn't qualify initially. He was merely an alternate and he got there, not having trained for several days. Going into the event he basically didn't have any expectations, he felt very relaxed and calm. During the first days he thought he was playing pretty well. When he played against Federer (round robin stage) and lost in three sets he still thought he was doing quite well and could've won that match.
The final was all about the mental aspect. He lost the first two sets in a tiebreak but knew that it was close and that he could've just as well led by two sets. At that moment he still believed that he could win the match. And then things turned around completely and he won sets 3 and 4 very easily, 6-1 and 6-3 he thinks (6-2 and 6-1 it was). He was ahead in the fifth, then got close but there were some magic moments now and then, like in the second set and he just ran and fought on. In the end, it was some important mental decisions at certain moments in the match that made the difference.

(Getty Images)
David's Davis Cup career began in 2002 with the legendary doubles victory that he and Lucas Arnold Ker pulled off against Marat Safin and Yevgeni Kafelnikov. The captain at the time chose to let David make his debut in doubles because he was still young and didn't have any experience. So he spent most of the week ahead of the tie training doubles with Lucas. And then it was an incredible and tough match, because of the fast surface, because of the opponents and because Argentina was trailing 0-2. A historical match that took six and a half hours.
He always loved team competitions, ever since junior days and whether in South America or on the global level. It was something he really liked to do. And whenever he was playing Davis Cup it always helped him to think that he was playing for his country.

(Getty Images)
At Mar del Plata, there were all sorts of problems, with training, with the court, with the conditions and the balls. Still, if you get the chance to play a final at home the you have to win it. And that's basically what they didn't manage to do, to go out there and win, despite any problems there might be. David thinks the drama that happened at Mar del Plata went beyond tennis and that many things have been dramatised by other people, also because of the media. Which is understandable, given the enormity of the occasion. With the team they had they should've won easily. And Rafa's absence boosted their chances even more. Of course people got very excited about the final.
But nothing 'strange' happened. When they lost the doubles and he didn't show up at the press conference afterwards, he wanted to take a shower and there was no hot water. So he said, that's it, I'm out of here. And he left. Later he heard about the fight in the locker room that he was supposed to have been involved in. What bothers him the most about things like that, things that never happened is - who said this? Something that's not true? And then people who were not there confirm that it happened. But it didn't happen.

Right now, he's preparing for the exhibitions with Rafa so he's focusing on that. As for what he'll do next year - he wants to enjoy himself. It's a different rhythm that his life has now, away from the maelstrom of the Tour. He simply wants to enjoy being with his daughter and with Victoria, and he wants to do things he enjoys, like playing football with his friends. Apart from that he wants to travel and actually enjoy it for a change, there are many places in Argentina he still wants to visit, also with his family and friends.

Apart from that, while he was at it, David also talked to Marcelo Gantman for Vorterix.
Unfortunately, I don't have time now to transcribe/summarise this interview as well.
But I'll get back to it next week.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In Pictures II

Update (25/10)
Last night, the first TV interview with David in ages (and the first since his retirement) aired on Argentine channel TyC Sports.
A look at excerpts from it here.
Post about it coming tomorrow.

(Getty Images)

A month from now David will play his second exhibition match with Rafael Nadal, the one at La Rural in Buenos Aires.

In the meantime there have been some articles and rumours about David playing further exhibitions (e.g. in Chile with Nicolas Massu).
I'm trying to keep an eye on these things but so far, nothing has been confirmed by David or his camp.
- Nothing except the matches with Nadal in Córdoba (21/11) and in Buenos Aires.

In any case, here's the next round of photos.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

In Pictures

(Getty Images)

Vamos David is still taking a break.

There's no news at the moment.
And I'm still rather busy.

But there are things that don't take much time to post.
- Photos.

Over the years, I've collected tons of them. Most of them I've used for the blog or uploaded in the Photo Archives.
But not all of them.
So here's a look back at some moments in David's career.

To view simply click "Read more" below.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Vamos David Takes a Break

The announcement has been made, the interviews have been given. David is back home in Unquillo with his family. And with his new life that might require some getting used to.
Even if right now he still has the two exhibition matches with Rafa Nadal to get ready for.

Now, as I've mentioned before I didn't make any preparations for this situation. There were no pre-written eulogies or best-of lists
I could pull out of my metaphorical drawer. And this month I have very little time, due to other important obligations.

Therefore Vamos David takes something like a break now.
That is to say - if there's important news of any kind I'll post it.
Otherwise I'll be back at the beginning of November with the lead up to the exhibitions, David's big farewell party.

See you then.

Update (12/10)
A little video from the ATP website:

Update (10/10)
Edit: A new interview with David (for the Madrid Masters website, in English) you'll find here.
Plus here's one of the articles on David's retirement that I liked, one that was written in English, so I don't have to translate it first.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Back Home

After announcing his retirement at a press conference in Buenos Aires on Tuesday David arrived in Córdoba yesterday. And before heading on to Unquillo he took a moment to talk to the assembled media
- as you can watch in the video above (which also shows that ESPN as well are using Istabraq's photo of David at Boodles).

Coming home now, only shortly after making his announcement he's planning to reflect a little and draw a balance of his whole career after many years. But he also wants to simply enjoy doing normal things.
Again he's asked about La Legion, Argentina's golden generation of players that has not lost its last man standing. And again he says that those achievements will be difficult to repeat, those days when Argentina had four, almost five players inside the Top10.
He feels that he has left his mark and getting recognised all over the world has been spectacular. And he thinks he has been an inspiration for the younger players, who will hopefully be able to take some of the good things he did while not repeating the mistakes he made.

According to MundoD David also said that he "sees no possibility" of continuing to play Davis Cup because you "can't play it if you don't play on a regular basis".
Edit: Tamar from VD's partner site David Nalbandian Es Un Ídolo Total is collecting signatures in an attempt to persuade David to play one last Davis Cup match. You can read (also in English) and sign her online petition here.

(José Hernández/MundoD)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"I don't have any plan" - The Day after David Retired

(Gustavo Garello/Clarin)

David's press conference yesterday had been over for merely an hour or two when the first articles appeared in the Argentine press. Articles that looked back at his career, at the titles he won and the most dramatic matches he played, at his Davis Cup triumphs and also at the drama with Delpo. All of them prepared for that particular day - that was yesterday.
I didn't prepare anything, although I knew what was bound to happen sooner or later. And I don't really know yet what the coming weeks and months will look like here on Vamos David.

But for the moment, here's an interview that David gave Sebastián Torok for La Nacion yesterday, apparently after the press conference part. And after announcing a decision that he didn't even tell his family about beforehand (as he told Torok).
Q: When you had surgery in May did you think that this would be decisive for your career or that you might still be able to recover from it?

David: No, no. I was hoping to return because the tests didn't show the injury to be as serious as they realised it was when they opened me up. When the surgery was over the doctors told me that I was much more badly injured that they had expected. It's true, after that doubts arose about returning to the Tour. But before that I could no longer play. The pain I had was infernal. I couldn't train, my shoulder hurt all the time but the hope that I might be able to return was still there. And then it got complicated.

Q: Considering the draw for the Davis Cup 2014 [home tie for Argentina against Italy] some thought that you might retire there. Or maybe in February, at the Copa Claro.

David: No. The thing is that I'm perfectly fine, playing from the baseline. But the problems start when I serve. My shoulder will act up after only a short time and that's why I can't make any plans to play the tournament in Buenos Aires. The shoulder doesn't allow demanding training. Today I might be fine and then tomorrow I can't even lift my arm. February is too far away. If it was up to me I'd keep playing Davis Cup, also without a ranking, but I can't go on court giving [my opponents] so many advantages.

Q: How much of an influence has your daughter been for arriving at this decision?

David: Aheeem.... Actually not that much because if I could go on playing, I would. Obviously, I stay home now instead of going to the movies, I stay with her. But if I could keep playing and competing I'd do a little more of that. For the moment I continue my rehabilitation because I want to have a good farewell in front of the people and I hope that they will join me.

Q: What do you think is your legacy?

David: I don't know. You'd have to ask the guys about that, the youngest ones. But hopefully it's the best one, that they start playing tennis, doing sports, making an effort, trying to improve. I hope it'll be that. And the people? I hope they'll have good memories of me, or the best possible ones. But I don't know what's going to happen. Hopefully [the memories] will be good ones, of a guy who gave everything he could, every Davis Cup week.

Q: You were the last active member of La Legion. How would you describe this phenomenon that lasted over a decade?

David: I've never thought about being the last. I think about it from the perspective of having been part of a spectacular group of players, because there were actually different groups, that over the course of ten or twelve years achieved lots of things, we made headlines in world tennis. It'll be very difficult to repeat. It was great to have elevated Argentine tennis to this kind of level. I think it was a generation of players that brought tennis back to the people. Tennis has become very popular again [in Argentina] and I hope that I have contributed something to that.

Q: A lot of people think that in 2006 you could've been number one. What was missing?

David: I've had the fortune and the misfortune to meet basically two of the best tennis players of all time. That's how I'll summarise it for you, short and to the point. For me, it's about Federer and Nadal. Roger broke all the records and Rafa is on the brink of doing it. To have shared that great era with them, to have won, lost and to have been at that kind of level has been an honour.

Q: You've had a staggering career and you've also had some interests that other professional tennis players would perhaps not choose to pursue. Do you think at some point you might have neglected your physical fitness?

David: Many of those things, like bungee jumping, I did because of philosophy of life, personality or style. You live life only once and there's far more to it than tennis, or journalism, or whatever. People are the way they are and enjoy what they enjoy. At each of those stages that was what gave me air to breathe or what kept me grounded so I'd be able to keep up a good level on the Tour. Whether it was swimming, car racing or whatever. I like those kinds of sports, they allow me to breathe so I can return to competing with my batteries recharged. The tennis circuit is tough and you need mental breaks. If the same opportunity presented itself to me today I'd do it again. If I hadn't done it I would've retired earlier because of my head, no doubt about that.

Q: Do you have any regrets? Do you criticise yourself for things you have done and that have affected you or the Davis Cup team?

David: Everybody criticises themselves because if you go to bed 100% satisfied then that's not really normal. I keep these things to myself. I think that you get drawn into a huge maelstrom. In any case, I don't regret the things I have done.

Q: What will you miss?

David: Watching the video screens [at the press conference], what made me tear up were those Davis Cup images. The Davis Cup is a thorn in my side that I couldn't get rid of. We only needed to win three points, nothing more than just that. We got very close. We had a series of good performances in the last decade and the closest one was Mar del Plata. It's the only trophy we couldn't bring home to Argentina.

Q: What are you going to do in the future?

David: I don't have any plan. It's still too recent and tough to think about in the coming months.

P.S. For those of you who want to have a look at how it happened yesterday:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

David Announces Retirement


Theoretically, it was supposed to be just another promo event. The first sign that it would be more than just that was the presence of about a hundred journalists. And when ahead of the press conference itself clips were shown of David's greatest matches it became all too clear what was about to happen...

At a press conference in Buenos Aires today David announced his retirement from professional tennis.

A "difficult day" and certainly "not one of the nicest days in my career" as he called it, having to say goodbye to the sport he "owes so much to". But his shoulder "won't let" him play. Here are some quotes:

The shoulder as the source of all evil
The shoulder doesn't allow me to train as thoroughly as the circuit requires.
I could play a match but the shoulder won't allow me to continue my career. This way I cannot compete at the ATP-level.
I was practicing with the Davis Cup team ahead of the tie against the Czech Republic. When I have to serve for several days on end the shoulder doesn't work well.
Friends and fans
Over the many years that I've spent on the Tour I've made many friends all over the world, I have many fans and if I have been able to do something then hopefully I've been able to do it for many different people.
La Copa Davis
The images that make me shed a few tears are the ones from Davis Cup. The affection [you get] from the crowd and the atmosphere you experience there you don't get to experience anywhere else.
The exhibition matches with Rafa Nadal
Those matches are still far away. Though I've made this decision I will continue with my rehabilitation and I keep training.
Maybe Davis Cup captain some day?
I only think about today. Today is a difficult day but I don't see any chance for that to happen in the near future. (Sources 1 & 2)


Press Conference Day

It's been a while since David's last appearance at a press conference. That was during the Davis Cup quarterfinal weekend, i.e. six months ago. And the number of interviews he has given since then you can count on the fingers of one hand.
But now, with the ticket sales for his exhibitions with Rafa Nadal not quite living up to the organisers' expectations (prices range from $170/€125 to over $1000/€800) David will hold a press conference today.
Officially to promote those exhibition matches. But there will be other things to talk about as well, most importantly his plans for the future.

More about the press conference (due to begin at 1.30pm local time) later today.