5 Responses

  1. Julia
    Julia October 29, 2012 at 11:20 pm |

    The glory days of 2007… It’s always nice to be reminded of those, so thanks for that. 🙂
    But there’s a couple of things I’d like to say.

    Nalbandian had various injury problems in 2007 (back, abdomen and knee, if I remember correctly). They didn’t sideline him for weeks on end but they made it difficult enough for him to do well.
    He took a break between the US Open and the indoor swing. To get fit but also to work with the new coach he had just hired after having been without one for well over a year. That new coach was Martin Jaite (now Argentina’s Davis Cup captain), who did Nalbandian’s game a lot of good.
    During the 2007 indoor swing, Nalbandian lost to Wawrinka not just once but twice, first at Vienna (the week before Madrid) and then again at Basel.
    Against Berdych at Madrid, Nalbandian went down a set and a double break. He lost eight games in a row, from 4-2 to 4-6, 0-4, before turning the match around.
    If players were asked about their easiest opponents (and not just about their toughest ones) then Gasquet would probably be right at the top of Nalbandian’s list. Going into that match, he had a 4-0 record against Gasquet, having bagelled him in 3 of those matches. I think that this also had an influence on Gasquet’s assessment. By now, the record stands at 7-0.
    To prepare for the Australian Open 2008, Nalbandian wanted to play the Kooyong exhibition. During a practice session ahead of the event he suffered back spasms and had to pull out. He somehow managed to survive the first two rounds at the Australian Open, also thanks to a kind draw, but that was as much as was possible under the circumstances.
    The thing with Nalbandian is that he doesn’t talk much about his injuries. And if at all, he talks to the Argentine press. So most of his injuries go unnoticed by the English-speaking media, blogs etc.

    My favourite match from the Paris week still is the one against Federer. Though I also had a great time, watching Nalbandian dismantle Gasquet again. Those two weeks showed what he was capable of back then, healthy, fit, playing with plenty of confidence and in the conditions he likes best. Indoors, where he can “feel better the ball”, as he’d put it. He gave us a little glimpse of it again at Stockholm, last year. Here’s hoping he’ll still be around for next year’s indoor swing.

  2. Julia
    Julia October 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm |

    Well, I’m a Nalbandian specialist, you probably guessed as much. I’ve been a fan for many years and I keep a blog about him (Vamos David). One of my aims with the blog is to present a more rounded, though not idealised picture of David Nalbandian. He’s definitely not the easiest player to blog about or follow but well, he’s my favourite.

    The partnership with Jaite ended simply because Jaite no longer wanted to travel all the time. He wanted to stay in Argentina and focus on other things, like being the tournament director of the ATP event in Buenos Aires. But the job he really wanted he has now: Davis Cup captain.

    I’d say Nalbandian’s attitude towards journalists is a rather straighforward one – he doesn’t like talking to them and doesn’t pretend otherwise. I think that the Argentine journalists are (and have to be) more willing to put up with it than their British or American colleagues. Though he’s generally a lot more forthcoming if he gets to talk in Spanish.
    I agree with you about the disinterest the English-speaking media show for news in other languages. But I also get to see things that are simply false. My favourite example in this context: Gervasio Esteban Ezekiel Nalbandian. Many people think that’s his full name when it actually was just a bad joke someone made on Wikipedia. But thanks to Bodo, who fell for it and posted it on his blog back in 2007, the myth was born. And it’s still alive today.

    During the 2007 indoor swing I thought and still think that Nalbandian looked to be in perfect shape, also concerning his weight. He’s slimmer these days than he used to be, has been ever since a bad bout of flu last year. But the injuries and the surgeries have taken their toll, even if people don’t always know about these things.
    The Roland Garros semi was one of the only 3 matches he retired from in his career. And in that case everyone could see what had happened.
    But Nalbandian also spent 14 months playing with a serious hip injury and didn’t lose a word about it until he literally couldn’t play anymore. During those months, there were all sorts of weird results, matches where he started well and then fell apart completely, or seemed to have given up from the start. And of course people called him a choker or said he didn’t care about tennis – but the real reason turned out to be a very different one.

    As for making another random run, right now, we don’t even know for sure whether Nalbandian is going to play another season. He said he’ll decide at the end of this year but so far, he hasn’t made his decision public.

  3. Julia
    Julia November 2, 2012 at 9:16 pm |

    If you spend a few years blogging about a player there’s no way around becoming a specialist. And hopefully a bit of an authority on the subject. Even if that subject tends to be unruly.

    As for the career match record, well, of course Murray and Djokovic play more matches than Nalbandian. They usually get to play full schedules, they go deep at most of the events they play, they reach more finals and win more titles than Nalbandian ever did. For them, it’s normal to play 70-80 (or more) matches per year. The most Nalbandian ever managed was 63. And ever since 2008 that number has been stuck in or below the 30s.
    I wish I could take hope from the examples of Hewitt and Haas. But whether to retire or keep on playing is a personal decision each player has to take for himself.

    Missing tournaments to drive or follow rallies, or tanking matches to watch football – those as well are myths. If he didn’t have the hunger and the desire to be on the tennis court day in and day out, then why did he even bother, coming back after hip surgery? He could’ve just said – that’s it, from now on it’ll be rally driving for me. But no, three days after surgery he was back at the gym, working on his comeback.
    I’m not saying he’s the hardest worker the tennis world has ever seen. But he’s also not the laziest, most disinterested player the tennis world has ever seen.

    Nalbandian reached the final the first time he played Wimbledon and then went on to regularly make it to the QF/SF stage at the other Slams. I think he was (and had reason to be) serious about wanting to win a Slam. It’s just that after the two semis in 2006, his chance was basically gone. 2007 was difficult, as mentioned before, 2008 the hip injury appeared – the end. That it took him until this year to publicly say, I know I’ll end my career without having won a Slam, simply shows, I think, that it can’t have been easy for him to realise and admit it.
    I don’t know myself how he managed to lose that match against Baghdatis. But I’m also not sure he would’ve had a chance against Federer in the final. US Open 2003 would seem more likely though he was out injured after that semi.

    As for the Davis Cup, Del Potro didn’t do himself a favour with the way he handled the situation during the semifinal (and ahead of it). Though the underlying, more basic problems date back of course to Mar del Plata. I guess he’ll skip the first round again next year, like he usually does. But I can’t imagine he’d abandon the team.
    I simply hope Nalbandian is going to play one more season, whatever it’s going to look like. I have a feeling that he will but that might be wishful thinking. And no, I don’t think you’re being harsh. I know I come across like Nalbandian’s chief apologist here but there are enough things about him that annoy me.

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