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Roulette on the Pampas 11/24/2008 - 12:25 PM

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by Pete Bodo

Mornin, TWibe. Y'all saw what happened over the Davis Cup weekend, so I don't think you need the Pony Express to gallop in with the long-awaited news. To me, this was a final-round tie that illustrated why this event is unique (without having any conspicuously "unique" features; it is, after all, a straight-up, best-of-five matches event relying on as traditional a format as exists). Also why it's inspiring (Feliciano Lopez, an ATP journeyman, emerged as the Most Valuable Player in leading his team to an upset that will become a staple of Davis Cup lore and legend). And why it's the epitome of individual satisfaction, if not glory. You win Wimbledon, you bathe in the glory rained upon a conquering hero, or triumphant gladiator. You win Davis Cup, and the hot glare is more like a glow, and you get to bathe in it with your comrades, as well as your countrymen.

I know that some of you objected to what you saw as my unnecessarily harsh analysis of Juan Martin del Potro's first day performance, repeatedly pointing out out that he had performed impressively in the Davis Cup semifinal, and on the tour, especially for a 20-year old at the tail end of a long, tiring, breakout season. All I can say is that in covering tennis, you sometimes take the short view, and sometimes the long. The short view is appropriate when the focus is a specific event, or even a match. In fact, at those times it's sometimes best to suspend your Big Picture instinct, because it can get in the way of understanding how and why something happened, and doing justice to either competitor's performance (or lack thereof)  on the day. The long view is best applied when the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared.

So my long view is that Argentina totally made a hash of this tie. And I'm going to be a little immodest in claiming that I had a feeling things might turn out this way. In everything I've written about the tie, one of the prominent themes was the pressure that would be brought to bear on Argentina, and while del Potro made great strides this year in establishing himself as a top player, I wouldn't say that the squad as a group could have been called a tough lot, seasoned and mentally fit for the task they faced, prepared to pull together as a unit to get the job done no matter what it took. This was, after all, David Nalbandian's squad, and how often have we applied those kinds of adjectives to him?

Okay, Nalbandian is hurting today; there's no good reason to pile on any more than necessary. And let's remember that he played a terrific first match. But the backstory on Nalbandian here isn't real pretty. Numerous reports (including this one from our own correspondent in Mar del Plata) suggested that leading up to and during the tie, Nalbandian behaved less like a popular and inspirational captain (say, an Andy Roddick) than a prima donna who sometimes appeared to see this tie more as the vehicle for his personal glory and as a line-item in his legacy. If you're looking for a scapegoat, you've come to the right place.

Various sources had Nalbandian politicking (for personal reasons) with unusual fervor for a site close to Cordoba (his efforts came to naught), and micro-managing the choice and installation of surface in a way that was less about the team's chances than his own; of course, you could argue that what was in Nalbandian's best interest was also in the team's best interest,  but there are ways to make the confluence-of-interests more appealing for all concerned. The really critical question is the degree to which the rest of the Argentina squad saw this final not as Nalbandian's moment, but their collective moment. The evidence suggests that the answer is, not very much.

Nalby This became an especially important question as the summer rolled on and del Potro emerged as Argentina's best day-to-day player. In a way, Argentina's bid to win its first Davis Cup bid may have been undone rather than enhanced by the shake-up in the national rankings. For Del Potro, not Nalbandian, may have been the key figure in this tie, and his performance on Day One was the tipping point in all that came later. My feeling is that del Potro was insufficiently motivated, and perhaps unable to become inspired by what at times might have looked more like a Nalbandian coronation than a team effort by Argentina to capture the Davis Cup. We're dealing in intangibles here; I'll be the first to acknowledge it. But that doesn't make the themes and issues less real.  The alleged locker room dissension and scuffle following the doubles on Sunday was reported by too many sources for me to discount it's veracity (despite the denials issued by the Argentine camp). If this was indeed Nalbandian's team, he showed remarkably poor leadership.

Some comment posters over the past few days noted that I've shown a historic antipathy to Argentine players in general, and I have to admit that it's true - and the events this weekend showed partly why I feel that way, and why I think it's justified.

I've had a lot of respect for numerous players from Argentina over the years, starting with Guillermo Vilas and Jose Luis Clerc. I had a big falling out with Vilas (which was subsequently repaired) when I felt that his suspension for taking an under-the-table payment from a tournament in Rotterdam was justified. That's a long and complicated story, but if you all want me to tell it, maybe someday I will. Clerc and I had smooth sailing all the way, and we still chew the fat a little when I bump into him at this or that tournament.

Overall, though, the Argentines have a seeming inability to function as team players, and they seem to spend a little too much time jealously guarding their respective turf  (not that this is exclusively an Argentine problem, as John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors amply demonstrated in their own Davis Cup adventures). Vilas and Clerc, for example, were both great guys, but they were too competitive with each other in trival ways and a little too caught up in jockeying for position relative to each other on the home front. It's one of the main reasons that they, both Top Five players on clay at one time, couldn't set aside what rivalry they naturally felt to bring home a Davis Cup. That's the real tradition in Argentina, for better or worse: bickering and in-fighting that ruins the ideal Davis Cup spirit.

By contrast, Spain was practically forced to become a better team, and therefore one more likely to be inspired to overachieve, by the absence of its own star, Rafael Nadal. But remember that Nadal is much loved by his peers, and in a curious way his absence was inspirational in a different way. It probably made the Spanish players more determined to win - to do it partly for their missing icon, and partly to show that they could carry the load without him. This all gets pretty murky, psychologically; it's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.

But if you want a more quantifiable analysis, I'd say that Lopez did all the anyone could ask, and that Nalbandian did not. Sure, Nalbandian ripped through his opening singles. But if he was as much the focal point of Argentina's effort as appears to be the case, he should have found a way to lead Argentina to a doubles win. Oh, I know the objections you could raise on the score, but I don't buy into them. You want to be the hero, you find a way to get it done. End of story.

You also have to wonder if there isn't a larger lesson to be learned here. Tennis is too difficult a game, and too dependent on confidence and fitness, for any player to take shortcuts, or make assumptions - and that's especially true of situations over which he doesn't have total control (like you have in Davis Cup). If you want to tread water as a player, playing the ranking system and tournament structure in a way that suits your desires and needs, you're asking for trouble. Any player that doesn't take an utterly professional approach to his game, and try equally hard even when he isn't feeling terrible motivated or inspired, is asking for trouble. And don't think that his peers and rivals aren't aware of it.

Tennis is still an unscripted venture, and attempts to write and impose the narrative often go wildly awry (just look at Ivan Lendl's inability to win Wimbledon in spite of his willingness to sacrifice his chances Roland Garros, or the fact that Pete Sampras had his worst tournaments in Paris in the years when he most targeted it).But unlike Lendl and Sampras, Nalbandian was not a proven champion and hard worker taking a calculated risk with a conscious shift of priorities. It seemed more like he generally let things slide and opportunistically waited for his chance to strike it rich (in terms of reputation and legacy) with a Davis Cup victory, like a guy betting all of his chips on one spin of the roulette wheel.

In a way, you have to feel for the guy; he bet red and the spin came up black. But unlike the irrationally hopeful gambler, Nalbandian might have done more - perhaps a lot more, in subtle ways - to affect where that ball came to rest. The older I get, the more convinced I am that the truth always comes out, although I'm careful about embracing it as such, and there's certainly some room for debate over just what that truth means. The one I'll take, this time around, is the one uttered by the defeated Argentina captain, Alberto Mancini:

Nadal not coming made [the Spanish team] even more of a unit, more together. We have to learn a lot about this to someday win the Davis Cup.

In other words, this was Nalbandian's team alright, and given what we know about Nalbandian, the result isn't so surprising.


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Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 12:28 PM

Nalby is to blame for Argentina's loss.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 12:29 PM

JMDP is always innocent.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 12:33 PM

Clerc who?

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 12:34 PM

So Pete posts some tennis-related stuff, and they're still talking about nothing on the other thread. Go figure.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 12:35 PM

Might as well claim my Golden Slam. 5th.

Posted by Jackie 11/24/2008 at 12:38 PM

"The alleged locker room dissension and scuffle following the doubles on Sunday was reported by too many sources for me to discount it's veracity"

I'm a little behind ... Pete (or anyone else), can you fill me in? What exactly happened?

Posted by Vanessa 11/24/2008 at 12:39 PM

NP, lol
Pete, I'm finding it hard to read between the lines here

Posted by Arun 11/24/2008 at 12:40 PM

"Tennis is still an unscripted venture, and attempts to write and impose the narrative often go wildly awry"

Well said!

All I can say is this was one of the worst ever weekends for the Argentine Tennis from all possible aspects.

Posted by Vanessa 11/24/2008 at 12:42 PM

Jackie, apparentlly Nalby and Calleri had a fight after the doubles match. Both Calleri and Nalby have denied it. But I'm with Pete on this one (even if not in agreement with entire article) and believe there's must have been something that got the rumours started

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 01:05 PM

In Nalby's defense, I gather that we wouldn't be talking about all this if not for dP's injury, which I wouldn't blame on any one particular individual (or group, for that matter). Argentina's loss has a lot to do with bad luck.

Posted by Sher 11/24/2008 at 01:09 PM

[Nadal not coming made [the Spanish team] even more of a unit, more together. We have to learn a lot about this to someday win the Davis Cup.]

This was the inspirational part of the tie, because things could have so easily gone the other way, their team could have disintegrated with the in fighting for leadership. Instead, they pulled together and it was awesome to see.

I think you hit the nail squarely on the head here, Pete, I don't have too much to add.

Reading this, I do think back to the Olympics and the way Wawrinka & Federer won their gold, and I think that was a huge credit to the way Wawrinka handled the undoubtedly tough situation, not competing with Federer for the spotlight which led to their success as a team.

In a similar way now, Rafa stepped back without ever really leaving the team, and Lopez, Ferrer and Verdasco _shared_ their responsibility rather than fighting for who would be the one to achieve glory.

Posted by Sher 11/24/2008 at 01:10 PM

>which I wouldn't blame on any one particular individual (or group, for that matter).

I dunno, I could so easily blame it on scheduling, both personal and ATP as a whole...oh well.

Posted by Sher 11/24/2008 at 01:12 PM

Also, Pete, I like the way you mentioned the feeling of comradership in the spanish team, and how it reflects on Rafa's character, considering he could so easily be envied his top position.

Posted by Cary 11/24/2008 at 01:13 PM

Pete I think you're being to harsh on Nalbandian... Mancini should also be shouldering a lot of the blame. If he had put Del Potro in first, Argentina would probably be holding the trophy right about now, as Lopez probably wouldn't have beaten Nalbandian, and Ferrer (with the way he is playing right now) would have likely lost against Del Potro. Then again, maybe Nalbandian refused to play second....

I just feel bad for Acasuso... Twice he has walked away from the Davis Cup in tears...

Posted by zolarafa( VIVA ESPANA!) 11/24/2008 at 01:13 PM

Pete,
You are a bit harsh on Nalby, but this is an article to keep. DC was about the team spirit and squad depth. Spain has plenty, Argentina, not much!.

But I am still very sorry for Chucho!

Posted by zolarafa( VIVA ESPANA!) 11/24/2008 at 01:14 PM

Cary,
I swear, I did not copy your comments! lol!

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 01:14 PM

Sher, that's why I said "any one particular."

Posted by Jackie 11/24/2008 at 01:15 PM

Thanks for the info, Vanessa. Yep, totally wouldn't be surprised if that actually happened.

Posted by Vanessa 11/24/2008 at 01:16 PM

I don't think there was any real unity in the team from the get go and too many outside distractions (venues, rafa, surface)
They obviously could not withstand as a team the pressure of being overwhelming favorites playing at home for their first Davis Cup

Posted by linex 11/24/2008 at 01:19 PM

Undoubtedly, Argentina did not work as a unit, by some reason, perhaps because Juan Martin is a sensitive guy, he was not inspired to play out his heart as he did against Russia, nevertheless as he is a great player, the match against Feli was close one, let us remember that his cramps or whatever the injury started once he had already recovered the break (he was serving 3/4).

The story between the division between Nalbi and Juanma started probably as soon as David started to say that even if he qualified he would not attend Shangai because Davis Cup was the priority. A direct message for the kid who said that he woke up every day thinking about Shangai.

Then we have their division about the selection of the venue with Nalbandian focusing on Cordoba.

Nalbandian is a gifted player and I think he is mentally tough too, but if he is or not a great human being this something I do not know, who am I to judge it. Only his close circle knows it. It is clear that he is not an open nice person as say David Ferrer, he never choses to say big things to the press, this is why part of the argentine and international press does not like him. I think he received the lemon price from the journalists.

Posted by Vanessa 11/24/2008 at 01:19 PM

I also think the article was a bit harsh on Nalbadian (and I am not his fan, just trying to be objective) that's why I was trying to read between the line to see if I had missed something

Posted by Jackie 11/24/2008 at 01:23 PM

I just realized I really know nothing about Nalby ... Google time.

Posted by Syd 11/24/2008 at 01:27 PM

Thanks Pete,

Though it seems a bit harsh on Nalbandian. After all, if Del Potro had been fit, you would have written a totally different column. The decision to play Calleri in the doubles, and no, I don't think Nalbandian could have found a way to win without a fit partner, that's why it's called doubles - proved to be a fatal one. Canas would have been a much more reasonable choice, so whoever made the decided not to use him, is also to blame. Nalbandian did his part, it was the other players who could not.

Anyway, I was delighted by Spain's win sans Nadal—I think his absence "freed" the other players and allowed them to do their thing.

Posted by Rosangel 11/24/2008 at 01:28 PM

Cary: Mancini did not have the option of doing what you suggest he should have done. On Day 1, team A's number one will always play team B's number two, and team B's number one will play Team A's number two. Those numberings are determined by respective singles rankings, not the team captain's choice. The draw the day before will determine the order in which those matches occur.

Posted by Contracturado 11/24/2008 at 01:29 PM

Emilio deserves a lot of credit.

Posted by Contracturado 11/24/2008 at 01:30 PM

Emilio, as a player, was the opposite of Nalby: no talent, but loads of work and heart.

Posted by Carrie 11/24/2008 at 01:33 PM

Pete- interesting column. I agree with some parts- and others- I may have a slightly different view. I still can't agree with you that JMdP was not motivated. Sometimes the body does not agree. I do think that he and some of the rest of his countrymen could work on becomming a little stronger mentally. Unlike you ;)- I tend to be fond of a number of Argentine players. But the mental fragility- from Coria to Monaco to the current roster- can be very frustrating. Maybe it is the Cubs fan in me that makes me drawn to players with talent that have a hard time closing the deal.

Vanessa and Jackie- the story has changed a bit and that it was Nalby and JMdP who almost came to blows (with Calleri keeping them apart). A translation of Filip Dewulf's column is:

*Things were heating up in the Argentinian team in particular after the doubles loss yesterday. David Nalbandian is said to have insulted Juan Martin Del Potro and his father in the locker room. The two started to have a go at each other when the unfriendly Nalbandian accused Del Potro of having participated at the Masters instead of saving himself for the historic Davis Cup title. He did this using very firm words until Augistin Calleri stepped in between to seperate both men at odds after which Nalbandian furiously stormed out of the room without going to the press conference which will probably earn him a steep penalty from the ITF.
*

This could be idle gossip- just repeating the story.

I think the most important thing that Argentina can do from here is take this as a learning opportunity. It needs to be about the team. I hope that Nalby- who if I recall correctly used to be kind of a peace keeper between Gaston and Guille- and JMdP can set aside their differences.

I do feel bad for Chucho. It must have been a rough weekend for him. Tension in the camp and once again he has plays the pentultimate match for the final.

Posted by Contracturado 11/24/2008 at 01:34 PM

Emilio, in spite of his utter lack of talent, had great matches versus Wilander and Mcenroe. i'm old enough to remember.

Emilio is the anti-Nalby. A very professional guy.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 01:35 PM

I wonder what would've happened if both Rafa and dP had played the DC finals without injury. I actually think the Argies might've won the tie, with the following results.

Day 1 - Nalby and Rafa take their own rubbers, against Feli/Ferrer and dP, respectively.
Day 2 - The Spaniards win the doubles.
Day 3 - Both dP and Nalby take the remaining singles (yes, I think Nalby had a good chance to defeat Rafa), thereby claiming the Cup.

Again, blame bad luck.

Posted by Syd 11/24/2008 at 01:35 PM

Carrie: thanks, interesting.

Posted by Jackie 11/24/2008 at 01:36 PM

Ooooh, Carrie, thanks for the update. I suppose I'd rather see my Calleri be the peacekeeper, anyway. ;)

Just an altogether disastrous weekend for the Argies.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 01:37 PM

Looks like I got days 1 & 3 mixed up, but you see what I mean.

Posted by Master Ace 11/24/2008 at 01:37 PM

"I had a big falling out with Vilas (which was subsequently repaired) when I felt that his suspension for taking an under-the-table payment from a tournament in Rotterdam was justified. That's a long and complicated story, but if you all want me to tell it, maybe someday I will"

Pete,
That is a good story to tell on Friday February 7,2009 on Your Call which qualifying for Rotterdam starts on Saturday.

NP,
Good job on getting the first offseason Golden Slam.

Posted by Carrie 11/24/2008 at 01:38 PM

Syd- I also think that Monaco may have been a good choice for doubles as well. His singles game has gone off the rails thsi year- but he has had a pretty solid year in doubles. He won a title on hard court and he and Maximo reached the semis of the USO. I still think that Spain would have been the favorites to win doubles but Canas or Monaco may been a better choice than Agustin. Nothing against Calleri....

Posted by Vanessa 11/24/2008 at 01:39 PM

Thanks Carrie. I guess we'll never know what really happened. I mentioned the other day what I had perceived as tension between Nalby and JMDP a few months ago. Not many people seemed to agree at the time. And while I don't know enough about any of them to have the answers I think it was clear there was no unity at all among them from the very beginning. I remember watching the draw thinking the Spanish team looks so happy, relaxed and at ease with one another while the argentines (overwhelming favorites at home) seemed stiff and uncomfortable.

Posted by great gams 11/24/2008 at 01:39 PM

apparently Nalby also tore into JMDP for playing Shanghai and making his body vulnerable to injury.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 01:42 PM

MA, didn't realize it was the the first offseason Golden Slam. Thx. :)

Posted by Vanessa 11/24/2008 at 01:43 PM

NP, I'm not sure Spain would have lost with Rafa there, but I agree with you on Nalby would've probably beat him

Posted by Rosangel 11/24/2008 at 01:44 PM

In a hypothetical world in which Rafa had been fit enough to play the tie, I have a questionmark over the idea that Nalbandian vs. Rafa over five sets would necessarily turn out the way that it has in the two matches that they have played so far over three sets. Nalby has a great backhand with which to attack Rafa, but fitness and/or tiredness could come into play. Also, Rafa does not very often play as badly as he did in last year's Madrid QF against Nalbandian. It was so bad that I was laughing.

Posted by Jackie 11/24/2008 at 01:44 PM

Clearly I'm not a tennis player, but if I were, I don't think I could EVER turn down Shanghai, even if my chances to win were nil. Am I alone in this? (Or maybe I'm just really selfish? LOL.)

Posted by Zonie 11/24/2008 at 01:45 PM

I think there is plenty of blame to go around, although according to many reports, a portion of it does rest with Nalby.

In all the recriminations though, one cannot forget the great job that Sanchez did with his players that lead to Argentina's loss. Even after Ferrer's listless loss in the first match, Lopez went out there with the belief that he could win. Let's not forget that Delpo's injury occured in the fourth set when he was already down 1-2 in sets. I think Delpo's injury had more of an effect by preventing him from playing the 4th tie. But Argentina would have still been down 1-2 at that point. By that point, the rifts in the Argie team were starting to be apparent.

On the otherhand, one only need to look at the interaction of Ferrer with the other team members and the contrast is striking. Even after starting off Spain on a bad foot, the closeness of the team and lack of recriminations was apparent.

I am thrilled for the Spanish team. They thoroughly deserved this victory.

I hope that the Argie team can learn from their mistakes and have another shot at the cup, maybe as early as next year.

Posted by Carrie 11/24/2008 at 01:45 PM

Vanessa- You may have been onto something there. The two seemed to be in great spirits with one another during the semis- but maybe seeds of some cracks in the camp started to happen when there was all of the debate and hubub about the venue for the DC.

It is odd- when the Spanish players were having issues with Munoz over the site of the US/Spain semis- it seemed to unite them. When Argentina was having issues as to where to have the final- it did not seem to unite the players. Maybe they needed someone from the Argentine Tennis Federation to send all of the players insulting emails- a'la Munoz. ;)

Pete- I would be interested in the Villas story. Did he and Clerc have very different tempermants?

Posted by Syd 11/24/2008 at 01:45 PM

Nalbandian may have a point about Del Potro going to the Masters. After all, this was an historic opportunity for his country—obviously, Juan was putting himself first over his country and his teammates, so I can understand why DN might have been a tad ticked off.

Posted by Arun 11/24/2008 at 01:47 PM

NP and Syd: Good job on defending Nalby. Thnx!!

Carrie: I read about Nalby-JMDP altercations too and I hope that the media is just hyping it up more than necessary. btw, (like nT) I also thought that Argentina could have had Schwank and/or Monaco in the team. Schwank had impressive victories over the likes of Kunistyn and Phau during this season with many Futures titles. Monaco did reasonably well in the indoor season too. If the *experienced* ones are not sure of winning, there is no point why a bright youngster could not be tried.. It might have been a masterstroke as he might have played with no huge pressure/expectations on his shoulders. btw, Schwank is ranked #58 and just 10 spots behind Jose and (actually 2 spots ahead of Calleri *eye rolls*)!! I know there is no point in he trying to be soo logical after the tie has been lost and Argentine confidence has taken a beating.. But, just saying..

Posted by Master Ace 11/24/2008 at 01:48 PM

Martin Jaite may be Argentina's next captain after Mancini stepped down:

http://tinyurl.com/5jom3z

Posted by Vanessa 11/24/2008 at 01:49 PM

Jackie, I am with you and I don't think anyone should blame JMDP for going to Shanghai. The scheduling doesn't help but players have to deal with it. I don't think Argentina lost because of JMDP or Nalby or any other player individually. I think they failed as a team and judging from Mancini's comments they are very aware of it

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 11/24/2008 at 01:50 PM

when you play Davis Cup,you come together as one,banded together as a team,the players become say more to each other,commardes to the end,regardless,,Spain showed their love,fight and strengths in this Davis Cup,thats of the main reasons they won Vamos Spain.

Argentina,on the other hand,there were rumours abound,with disagreements,etc,to lose ones focus,self doubt,especially playing in a team situation,recipe for failure,one of the reasons the Argies lost,also injuries too,didnt help thier,cause,to me its very unfair,to lay the blame on one person,this is a team effort.

Posted by ptenisnet 11/24/2008 at 01:51 PM

Clearly I'm not a tennis player, but if I were, I don't think I could EVER turn down Shanghai, even if my chances to win were nil. Am I alone in this? (Or maybe I'm just really selfish? LOL.)

I agree with most of this.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 01:52 PM

Vanessa & Rosangel, that was just a guess. I certainly wouldn't have bet my life savings on it.

Posted by Split Infinitive 11/24/2008 at 01:52 PM

"That's a long and complicated story, but if you all want me to tell it, maybe someday I will."

I love long and complicated stories! Do tell, Pete!

Posted by Carrie 11/24/2008 at 01:53 PM

Syd- JMdP may have thought that he could do both. In error perhaps, but he may have thought so. And who knows if he will ever get to play in the Master's again. This may be the only time he qualifies. I just think it is a little easier for Nalby to critisize when he has already been to TMC- and won. And if it is true that he then used bad language to JMdP and Elf's father to skewer Elf for a decision that he had every right to make- I don't think that was the right way to go about things.

The more I read about Flo's attitude during the tie- the more I freaking love the dude. How awesome that he prepared himself for the songs that the Argie fans would sing-to the point that he would even whistle them when he was off the court.

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 11/24/2008 at 01:54 PM

Miss Jackie O i am with you all the way,the Master Series Final,is a event at the end of the year,all players aspire to,of course if you make it,even better,noone should turn down,except of course,like Rafa,who was injured,couldnt play,though this year,we did have players their with injures,again though,it is up to the player,that their choice.

Posted by Arun 11/24/2008 at 01:55 PM

Syd: I understand Nalby's frustrations and it's justified - but, (even as a Nalby fan) I don't see why JMDP should refuse the opportunity to go to Shanghai; he earned that right to play there and it's too prestigious to neglect. In retrospect, what if JMDP had refused to go to Shanghai and STILL got injured during the middle of the DC tie.. The fact is, the Argentine team was not as strong/deep as I thought it was.

In one way or other, the team is hugely dependent on the performance of one man - Nalby! And he has been answering their call almost always.. In contrast to the public opinion, I've grown to be an even bigger Nalby fan after this devastating weekend.

Posted by Jenni 11/24/2008 at 01:56 PM

"Am I alone in this?"

No. I'm flabbergasted at the heat JMdP seems to be taking for choosing to play Shanghai.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 01:56 PM

"Pete,
That is a good story to tell on Friday February 7,2009 on Your Call which qualifying for Rotterdam starts on Saturday."

Master Ace, you are scary. :)

I can't wait that long for a promised story, I'll combust!

Posted by Jenni 11/24/2008 at 01:57 PM

"In retrospect, what if JMDP had refused to go to Shanghai and STILL got injured during the middle of the DC tie.."

Yes. Or if he hadn't but they'd lost anyway, everyone would be calling him a fool for skipping Shanghai for no good reason.

Posted by Vie 11/24/2008 at 01:58 PM

Agree with you Pete that the pressure and expectations after all the distracting preparations were the undoing of the Argies. Team spirit, unity, and gutsing out was on the Spanish side.

Posted by Carrie 11/24/2008 at 01:58 PM

Arun- good call on Schwanck. (I can't read his name without hearing Carillo say it.) Although he has not won as many tight matches as he would like- he does seem to have some real talent and is on the ascendency. And it could be a springboard to better things next year if he had a great match.

Another good aspect of having Monaco is that it seems like he gets along with a lot of players and is rumored to be a very funny guy. Perhaps some levity could have helped the situation a little.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 01:59 PM

I am also surprised at the heat del Potro is taking. He may never get to that position again - how could he not take his chance?

Posted by Sher 11/24/2008 at 01:59 PM

ptenisnet I completely agree that to expect 20 year old del Potro to skip Shanghai is simply ridiculous.

Carrie, I think it was in Andy Murray's autobiography that I read this, but he seemed to be incredibly impressed with the way spanish players band together as a unit and train. He was talking about British vs Spanish tennis and how there's too much infighting in british tennis and everyone hoping everyone else will fail which was greatly contrasted to him by his time in Spain. He spends time admiring the way Nadal was able to practice with Moya earlier and how the spanish teammates seem invested into building each other up. I might look up the relevant passages later, I just thought it seems to support your comments (and pete's) on the things lacking in Argentina's team.

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 11/24/2008 at 02:00 PM

jenni i am also in your camp,gee del potro,had every righ to go to Shanngai.

Posted by ptenisnet 11/24/2008 at 02:01 PM

Also
I dont know how this came about, but we talk of Argentina as Nalbandian's squad. But spain wasn't Feli's squad or Verdasco's squad or Ferrer's squad. They all just had their own jobs to do and just that. There was no one to look to as a leader and there was no need to. One might argue that this is really what DC is all about. That under the framework of team and camraderie, it all really boils down to each person doing their job.

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 11/24/2008 at 02:01 PM

Pleas next we will be putting all players in cotton wool, forever,

Posted by Jackie 11/24/2008 at 02:01 PM

Whew. So now I know I'm either a) not selfish or b) just as selfish as the rest of you. :)

Posted by Vanessa 11/24/2008 at 02:02 PM

No Jackie we're not selfish. We're just right!, lol

Posted by sblily (Zen master, F-Lo is. Yes, hmmm...) 11/24/2008 at 02:05 PM

Gabriela V - thanks so much for posts on other thread re: DC details (esp. about Feli)

Awww, Ferru. Panic attacks? :(

I'm floving Feli as zen master. I really hope he can keep up this mental approach going forward. And I'm giggling at the idea of him as locker room Yoda.

BTW, love the pic of Nalby. Reminds me of the cover of one of my favorite albums, Jobim's "Stone Flower."

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 11/24/2008 at 02:07 PM

jackie i am always on your side,you are not selfish girl,just plain crazy,sensible and always right no?

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 02:07 PM

NP, Arun.

BTW it's amusing to see people question dP's decision to go to Shanghai. Oh, he put his own career over his country! What a selfish brat! Uh, yeah, so some people have yet to learn that there's no conflict between individualism and patriotism. How shocking.

If you have any info that dP's condition was already taking a swift decline playing Shanghai could've exacerbated it, let me know. If not I'll be generous and assume this was one of the clueless moments we all have on occasion.

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 02:08 PM

Hey people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How izz everybodddddayyyyyyyyy!!!!

I am kind of happy today! Happier than I was early in the morning, I can tell ya that. Partly because I got an English timed essay test, that was to be taken today, postponed to Thursday by my very nice teacher!!!! And partly because some things/people in this world have just made me happy and I shouldn't fret about everything all the time!!!

OK I have no idea what I just said... absolutely no clue what it means. Honest. Basically I'm trying to be as happy as a I can today! And tomorrow! And every day! Life is too precious to waste whining away! So... I'll get down to some homework!!! CHEERS!!! There's none due for tomorrow... I have only 3 half-hour lessons!!!! Meaning 90 minutes of school! And riding!!! YAYYYYYY. Happy-ness-ness-ness.
No wait... there's 3 pieces of homework due in on Wednesday... and a timed essay test on Thursday + a Biology experimental write-up that has to be TYPED.
NOoooooo look at the bright side!!! Wednesday break-times mean delicious carrot cake with delicious icing!!!!!!! And Thursdays... OK not much to look forward to... quadruple biology, double physics, quadruple English... hmm....

Oh well. YIPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE>

*goes madder than usual. Which is saying something*

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 02:08 PM

"You want to be the hero, you find a way to get it done. End of story."

I didn't watch the doubles match, just followed it here - but it's my opinion that sometimes you can try your heart out and still fail - and that opprobrium is not fair in such a case. (I'm not saying that the doubles match was as I didn't watch it.)

If Nalby is so well-known as awkward though I wonder why he was allowed (what seems) so much control and influence?

Posted by Jackie 11/24/2008 at 02:11 PM

LOL, aussiemarg.

Man, tennis players should work with pro wrestlers to get used to all that "heat." Start with John Cena.

Posted by mick1303 11/24/2008 at 02:11 PM

Too much assumptions here.
Why the relations between Clerc and Vilas should have any bearing on the relations between Nalbandian and his teammates? Don’t see any logic in this. More of an attempt to limp all Argentines together and put some label.
Yes, author clearly doesn’t like them and it shows.
“Too many sources” mentioning alleged brawl between Calleri and Nalbandian are most likely repeating each other. There is no proof that it is true. Another assumption: “I believe it, because it is in line with what I think of them anyway.”

Posted by Sher 11/24/2008 at 02:12 PM

NP, is that a trick question? He wasn't undergoing surgery on his foot because he was playing. And his injury in DC seems to be stress induced rather than a rolled ankle type of thing.

Individualism and patriotism are not conflicting ideas per se, but they can definetly conflict based on circumstances.

Posted by Carrie 11/24/2008 at 02:13 PM

sblily- I know- poor Ferru. I hope he refinds his mojo- but it seems that even if he does not - he has the support of his countrymen. I feel like Cameron on House because for some reason- Ferru's recent troubles- make him even more attractive to me. I just want someone to take care of him and make it all better.

Sher- thanks for that info about Andy's thoughts on the Spanish players. I have read that it is not always sunshine and roses- a'la the tension in 2004 when JCF felt hurt- but overall- there does seem to be a great support system. You could really invision Nando and Flo trying to help sweet Ferru with his panic attacks and confidence whereas I can envision Chucho having an attack with nary an intervention.

Posted by Jackie 11/24/2008 at 02:13 PM

Hey, Maha! Here's hoping your positive energy rubs off on us. ;)

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 11/24/2008 at 02:14 PM

jewell Nalby in the Argentina side is like their elder statesman,he has always put playing for his country first,his record is near perfect as well,therefore,other players look to him,for leadership etc,i think by now,he has some rights to voice his opinion etc.

Posted by Sher 11/24/2008 at 02:16 PM

Maha, lol, girl, how much sugar did you have? ;-)

Posted by Carrie 11/24/2008 at 02:16 PM

* but it's my opinion that sometimes you can try your heart out and still fail - and that opprobrium is not fair in such a case.*

I do think that is true. You can be playing someone across the net who is also playing their heart out. A'la the Wimbledon final. Or to bring in poor Chucho again- the 2006 DC final.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 02:17 PM

"Man, tennis players should work with pro wrestlers to get used to all that "heat." "

Ooh are we are back at the nude wrestling to settle ATP disputes?

Or did I just jump to conclusions?


Posted by Laura 11/24/2008 at 02:17 PM

Evening all!

Posted by Vanessa 11/24/2008 at 02:18 PM

oh Carrie do you watch house? I can totally relate to wanting to nurture

Posted by Jackie 11/24/2008 at 02:18 PM

HA, jewell.

I was referring to Ferru's freakout over the crowd reaction ... but your idea works, too. ;)

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 11/24/2008 at 02:19 PM

wow nude wrestling,brillant idea,when does this start?

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 02:20 PM

AM, but it sounds as if Nalby wasn't providing that leadership for this tie - maybe he just wanted it too much?

I like Nalby, btw. It's a real pity we did not get Nalby and Rafa slugging it out over five sets as that could have been a brilliant match, the epitome of DC.

Carrie - yes, poor Chucho, I feel really sad for him.

Hey Maha.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 02:20 PM

Sher, that's actually my point. If dP took a bigger risk of injury than usual in playing Shanghai then I'd say the criticism might be fair. But we know he didn't, so yes, it really is a nonsensical suggestion.

And of course individualism and patriotism can conflict on certain circumstances. This wasn't one of 'em.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 02:20 PM

AM, but it sounds as if Nalby wasn't providing that leadership for this tie - maybe he just wanted it too much?

I like Nalby, btw. It's a real pity we did not get Nalby and Rafa slugging it out over five sets as that could have been a brilliant match, the epitome of DC.

Carrie - yes, poor Chucho, I feel really sad for him.

Hey Maha.

Posted by Sher 11/24/2008 at 02:21 PM

>but it's my opinion that sometimes you can try your heart out and still fail - and that opprobrium is not fair in such a case

I agree with this of course. I think it's a very subjective call we're all making based on what we saw in the body language and other expressions from the players, filtered through our own biases. To Pete's credit, he's not pretending his post is not colored by pri-conceptions, he's just giving it like he sees it.

I think we have a sum of the parts here, but the whole is a little bit complex to see so quickly or easily, or at such a distance from the principal players in this little drama.

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 11/24/2008 at 02:22 PM

hi laura,well it is early morning here,cant wait for aussie tennis of summer,that where moi gets her revenge,ha,ha,also only 33 days to Hoffman cup and 22 sleeps before Santa arrives,yipeee!!

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 02:22 PM

Sorry for the double, I seem to be having a slow brain month...

And it's cold, cold, cold.

I just borrowed the nude wrestling from gauloises and naughty earlier.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 02:23 PM

Only 22 days till Christmas?

*excitement*

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 02:25 PM

That doesn't add up.

*disappointment*

I thought this was a really interesting post, btw. I might get some more coherent thoughts later. :)

Posted by Sher 11/24/2008 at 02:25 PM

Oh NP, you try so hard!

Posted by sblily (Zen master, F-Lo is. Yes, hmmm...) 11/24/2008 at 02:25 PM

Any player that doesn't take an utterly professional approach to his game, and try equally hard even when he isn't feeling terrible motivated or inspired, is asking for trouble. And don't think that his peers and rivals aren't aware of it.
~~~~

This touches on something that I've been tossing around in my head over the last few days -- that whatever his DC credentials, Nalby has lost some credibility with his teammates because of his sometimes disinterested performances in non-DC events.

I just find it strange that Nalby, seems to have decided years ago that DC will be THE thing that defines his career. It's as if he's given up on winning a Slam altogether and mentally closed off that path to glory completely, even though his performance as Slams (as opposed to DC) is something that he has a great deal of control over. *jumps into flameproof suit* As a fan, it's disappointing when it seems like Nalby is passing the buck by putting all his eggs in the DC basket.

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 11/24/2008 at 02:25 PM

jewell sometimes as players,i can so that,you want so much,your head becomes unclear in the end,Nably really wanted this,he could smell and taste it,hey,it was there for the taking no? rafa wasnt playing,it was on a hard court,gee,everrthing was in their favour,until,well we all saw what happened in the end.

Posted by Laura 11/24/2008 at 02:26 PM

Hi AM. Cant wait till chritmas!
I need your advice. If I were to listen to any Led Zepplin album which do you think is the best example of their music?

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 02:26 PM

There's no such thing as society.

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 11/24/2008 at 02:27 PM

Moi made mistake,on typ pad,32 sleeps to Christmas,sorry everyone

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 02:28 PM

Sher, I don't have to try. It takes an iota of my brainpower to refute nonsense.

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 02:28 PM

'Ello Jackie!!!

I am rubbing positive energy onto everyone! Happy-ness-ness-ness and Joy-ism!!!!!! All WITHOUT glitter and hairspray!!!! Mwahwahwahwaha. All you need is a pinch of Happy-ness-ness at any random thing/event in you life and a dash of hope!!!!!! And a look at a picture of Roger Federer wearing his warmest smile!!!!!!!! Works every time :D

Posted by 11/24/2008 at 02:28 PM

Christmas is the worst day of the year.

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