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


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 Pierre 11/24/2008 at 04:52 PM

Someone has to win, and someone has to lose.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 04:52 PM

Ruth, that's a good point. And not just because you mentioned me. :)

jewell, you can't argue with my new crystal ball. And you're rooting against my country? After we saved your country's behind in WW2? You ingrate! (I keed, I keed.)

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 04:53 PM

Maha, see previous thread for answer to your question.

Posted by Pete 11/24/2008 at 04:55 PM

Hmmmm. . . the discussion is good, but let's not forget who won, and we all know that all the woudlas, couldas, shouldas will fade into oblivion over time - and a shorter time than we might think. I think that's a good thing, especially for the Argentines, who can't be feeling very good right now. That's the great thing in tennis - everyone lives to fight another day. Gotta run now to fetch loco cowboy from school, see y'all later!

Posted by gauloises 11/24/2008 at 04:55 PM

jewell makes a good point (as did Arun in the previous thread). What does it say about Mancini that Nalbandian was allowed to derail the Argentina effort in this way, if that IS what happened?

Posted by Jackie 11/24/2008 at 04:56 PM

"He sucks but he's not omnipotent."

LOL, MrsSanta!!!

Yeah, this one's a head-scratcher. Nalby clearly didn't come through for the team, as its leader. Still, I almost can't fault the guy for succumbing to his frustration, desperation, selfishness, whatever ... pressure will do that to ya, especially if, well, you're Nalbandian.

Now I'm going in circles ...

Posted by ptenisnet 11/24/2008 at 04:56 PM

(and i think this is santa's point) How is an unmotivated Delpo any fairer to FLDG than an injured delpo?

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 04:58 PM

Maha, let me put this delicately, but bowing down to "the Holy Crystal Ball of Balls" evokes curious images, considering that you're a she. Just letting you know.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 04:58 PM

"Nalby clearly didn't come through for the team, as its leader. Still, I almost can't fault the guy for succumbing to his frustration, desperation, selfishness, whatever ... pressure will do that to ya, especially if, well, you're Nalbandian."

This is what I mean by tragedy, especially coupled with his prestige and influence.

Not forgetting Spain won but there was quite a lot of congratulation on previous threads. :)

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 05:02 PM

URGHHHH I can't believe I got MODified. Ok then. If that's how it's going to be >:D


I still don't understand how Roger's going to play the Davis Cup against USA AND the Dubai Championships next year... this year Dubai for men was between 3rd and 8th March! I swear it! I was there at the final with my sister who had turned 13 the day before and was whining because Djokovic had lost to Roddick on her birthday and she had wanted to see him in the final and that was the least of my concerns because I had booked tickets only to see Roger but the idiot had to lose in the first round but the final was still really cool and the first set tie-break was especially fun and I was fighting with my cousin who is a Rafa KAD and he was supporting Feli just because Roddick had beaten Nadal in the quarters and I was supporting Roddick because he's American and my sister made me feel like I'd be a massive traitor if I supported the Spaniard and then she drank coke and red bull and became super hyper and then a girl in the audience yelled "Andy take your shirt off!!!!!!!!!" and everyone laughed and they showed the awesome Rolex ad during breaks and Roger looked too good in them and they made me happy and then... and then... *breathe, breathe, BREATHE*

OMG what was my original question??? Oh yeah.... How is Roger going to do both DC and Dubai????

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 05:02 PM

Roddick will kick Roger's Swedish derriere.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 05:02 PM

ptenisnet, I am probably being thick, but what does the DG stand for in FLDG?

Posted by ptenisnet 11/24/2008 at 05:04 PM

Felicano Lopez Diaz-Guerra

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 05:04 PM

Maha, Please take it to the DC Aftermath post (which is designated OT for the moment)

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 05:05 PM

Swedish? Have I gone completely mad? I am in a state of utter bewilderment!

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 05:06 PM

ptenisnet, yes, was being thick - thank you. :)

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 05:07 PM

Maha, it means the world is full of curious minds that are full of curious images. As for Roger's awesomeness, see my last post. :)

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 05:08 PM

Oh shush already, NP. Noone's kicking Roger's nothing. :D Not while I'm around. Especially not that pickled onion Roddick.

[Mod deleted]

Posted by Rachael 11/24/2008 at 05:08 PM

Maha - I thought I'd read somewhere that Fed wasn't planning on playing Dubai next year, especially since he has nothing to defend. did I imagine that? possibly.

but may I also point out that Roddick, who will be one of Fed's DC opponents, is also likely to be playing Dubai as he has the opposite of nothing to defend.

so whatever concerns poor Rog fans is concerning some Andy fans twice as hard.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 05:09 PM

jewell, think the last exo and the current level of Swedish tennis.

Posted by Violetta 11/24/2008 at 05:11 PM

Good point, gauloises. Perhaps the ultimate blame should be laid at the feet of Mancini for not controlling Nalbandian.

I agree with Pete on this matter. Sure there were matches won and lost, and all credit to Sanchez and the Spanish team for coming together and showing heart when it mattered most. But for Argentina I think the tie was partially lost before the first ball was struck. From Nalbandian's divaish behavior over the venue, including his "we'll see if I play" statement, to his insistence on the surface, and the numerous reports that he insisted on more prize money for himself, it seems that this DC was all about David's ego.

Whether or not one believes that Nalby's behavior had an effect on his team mates is subjective, of course. But I for one believe it did have an effect, and I can no longer view Nalbandian as a selfless DC warrior, when evidence would suggest that he's been behaving like nothing less than a spoiled child.

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

A pickled onion beats Swiss cheese any day.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 05:13 PM

Parents are to blame for spoiled children.

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 05:13 PM

Not again, MOD!!! It was two lines!!! And I was talking about Roger's awesomeness!!!! How is that Off Topic???? :(

Now I'm sad. Way to ruin my slowly-getting-happier day.
The only thing that can console me is Roger showing up at my door with a personalised Wimby cardy (which of course I will not wear because cardigans make my hair go frizzy for hours) and a wedding ring. I know, not gonna happen. A bottle of ginger beer'll work too. :) OK, ok... avoiding straying off topic for fear of being MODified again... :/
Is there any chance Rafa may not fully have recovered in time for the AO?????
(I know, I'm just making desperate tennis-related conversation now)

Posted by Syd 11/24/2008 at 05:14 PM


This is all under the heading of "rumour and gossip." The bottom line is, no one but Nalbandian came ready to play, they lost all their mathches! Period, end of story—how the only guy that actually won a point for Argentina, ends up getting blamed for their defeat, is a head scratcher.

Posted by zolarafa( VIVA ESPANA!) 11/24/2008 at 05:15 PM

***From what I saw, it was Verdasco who was screwing up out there while Lopez was playing steadily. Seemed that Lopez's comments were designed to increase Verdasco's confidence, which may have helped in Verdasco's singles match.***

I agree with you a bit. Watching the doubles, it was Verdasco who lost the 5-1 lead on his serve. Again in the singles he was a bit shaky. I think Lopez was great, by complementing him. They did the same to Ferru when he was down. when Rafa lost to Ferru in US Open, he refused to talk about his injury and said it was Ferrer who played incredible. Other Spanish players said the same.That's another reason to love these guys.

Lopez was also the one who asked the Spanish fans to chant "Argentina, Argentina..." after they won to calm the Argentine crowd.

I always saw him as a pretty face. Now I respect him a lot both as a player and as a human being.

Posted by Arun 11/24/2008 at 05:15 PM

"I thought I'd read somewhere that Fed wasn't planning on playing Dubai next year, especially since he has nothing to defend. did I imagine that?"

Rachael: It was my (and Sher's) wishful thinking in one of the YC threads. I'll be happy if it comes true. And, it's indeed more trickier for Randy as he will have to defend 600 ranking points @ Dubai, next year.

Posted by Viv 11/24/2008 at 05:16 PM

Having first read your ESPN post, I think there is a good deal more clarity and reasoning in this post dealing with the same subject. Thank you for that, Pete. (I didn’t get to see the final due to being on call over the weekend)

Reaching a DC final is, surely, not a particularly easy thing to achieve given all the time, effort and energy it requires during the year. I find it a little sad to think that the Argentines possibly squandered the chance to gain victory for lack of being a cohesive unit. On the other hand, I am delighted for the Spanish team who have had their own difficulties to contend with and, especially, for Emilio Sanchez who has demonstrated such good team leadership.

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 11/24/2008 at 05:16 PM

np i see you are on fire again today,with some incredible outlandish predications,methinks your crysal ball,needs cleaning?

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 05:16 PM

LOL NP. Where did the "parents" post come from?
And no, Swiss Cheese wins!!! No wait... both make awesome crisps flavours. But Roger still beats Roddick like a... like a... an egg beater!!!! URrrgh the Mod did it again. Now I'm being victimised.

Posted by Violetta 11/24/2008 at 05:16 PM

Syd-Hence my use of the word "subjective".

Posted by Master Ace 11/24/2008 at 05:16 PM

Please see my response to Roger schedule in the Aftermath. Ref: 5:02 PM post

Posted by Rachael 11/24/2008 at 05:17 PM

Maha - I think the point of "on topic" is not to just use sentences with the word 'tennis' in them, but to actually address/discuss the topic set in Pete's post up top.

(admittedly I haven't adhered to that either)

Posted by Moderator 11/24/2008 at 05:17 PM

On-topic means that the discussion should be about the subjects raised in the original post.

General tennis talk goes in the DC Aftermath post or whatever happens to be the day's Crisis Center/Your Call/Monday Net post or equivalent..

This is a premium post by Pete, not a post for general tennis chat.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 05:17 PM

Hey Syd, good point - maybe we're all just over-analysing - but all the different whys are so interesting...

except that Nalby lost in the doubles. Hm. I didn't watch so I can't really portion responsibility for that one.

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 05:19 PM

RACHAEL.... NOOOOOOOOOOOO. WHAT???? Roger not playing Dubai??? Who cares if he doesn't have points to defend!!!! That means he has everything to GAIN!!! Plus, I'm already planning a flight all the way from England to Dubai to watch the Dubai 2009 final... (PROVIDING the same junk that happened this year doesn't happen again and I actually GET to see Roger in it)... oh no. Oh well. We'll see in time...

Posted by Ruth 11/24/2008 at 05:20 PM

NP: Stop saying those things...even though I know you're joking. Remember what happened after JMDP's comment about pulling Rafa's pants out of his behind??? tee hee

Posted by aussiemarg{rafa nadal,no 1 player,long may he reign} 11/24/2008 at 05:21 PM

i think everyone is being too harsh on Nalbandian,full stop.gee this is team tennis.was he suppsed to single handed win this cup for Argentina,gee,according to some yes,please,team work is required here,not just for one Davis Cup match,but all thought the ties,cant expect to just get it together at the end,dosent work like that in Davis Cup tennis.

Posted by 11/24/2008 at 05:21 PM

I do not think that any of us can know how much impact the lack of a cohesive team had on the Argie loss, but it does appear to have played a very big part in Spain's success. If the purported lack of team spirit did not harm the Argie's chances, at the very least, they did not benefit from the impact that great teamwork can have in each individual's performance.

Posted by Moderator 11/24/2008 at 05:23 PM

If you wish to discuss Dubai, please move comments over to the DC Aftermath post, as already requested more than once. Future OT comments here will be deleted in full.

Posted by Syd 11/24/2008 at 05:25 PM

True Jewell, but I don't think he can be blamed for losing the doubles either. it takes two to tango.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 05:26 PM

AM, no one can argue with my crystal ball, not even me.

Maha, the "parents" was in reference to Violetta's 5:11 PM post. BTW a pickled onion can't be beat with an egg beater. :)

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 05:27 PM

Gotcha Mod, will stay "on-topic" now.

Ok genuine thought: the shadowy pic upthread looks SOOO UN-Nalbyish!!!!!!!!!
And I actually didn't expect things to turn out this way... I thought without Rafa Spain'd be under pressure and Argentina feeling superior... no wait, then they'd be complacent and get run over by underdogs Spain, which is what happened... JMDP has a long way to go before actually becoming a star... 5 good months of tennis and he's dropped dead!!! Hmph.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 05:29 PM

Syd - well, half the blame for losing the doubles, then. :) Of course Spain were likely to win the doubles anyway but then it was Nalby's task (presumably why he was put in) to step up and take it - to save the tie for his team - and he didn't, for whatever reason.

Not saying he didn't try the best he could on the day and I never think a player should be blamed for that even if they lose.

I guess for me it's not so much blaming as agreeing that Nalby's own character made it difficult for him.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 05:29 PM

Ruth, I'm frankly unaware of that comment by JMDP. What did he exactly say about Rafa's pants?

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 05:32 PM

Sorry, Mod. Fine, fine, don't get pushy.

LOL NP. In my world, a pickled onion CAN be beaten by an egg-beater. And a cow can bark. And Argentina CAN win the Davis Cup against Spain even when RAFA is playing... OK maybe not.
Geez, I wish they'd done it this time.

Posted by Syd 11/24/2008 at 05:34 PM

aussiemarg: Well said.

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 05:36 PM

JMDP said something about pulling Rafa's pants from his behind????? Like... a WEDGIE??????? (If that's how you spell it)

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 05:36 PM

Malimeda had some cool pictures on the other thread of Spanish supporters waving panties in the air. All part of the atmosphere.

I thought Elf and Rafa were quite friendly, seem to remember a comment (possibly on the Wimbledon blog) to that effect. So I don't read anything into the comment at all.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 05:36 PM

Yes, Maha, in your world. :) And I actually said the same thing about Argentina against Rafa-led Spain. Again the key might've been JMDP's injury.

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 05:38 PM

jewell, I got the impression that Elf was joking about Rafa's pants.

Posted by avid sports fan (still smiling but can only post from work) 11/24/2008 at 05:41 PM

hello everyone! *waves and smiles*

Since I've been away for a while I want to say quick congratulations to:

Spanish team for their DC cup win
Venus and Novak on their YEC wins

Commiserations to the Argentine team. A special shout out especially to Nancy. I know the loss hurts bad more so for Nalby.

Posted by Zonie 11/24/2008 at 05:44 PM

While I think that Nalby had a part in the debacle, it sounds like there is plenty of blame to go around. A few thoughts:

- Why was Chucho not match ready? This is a DC final for Christ sake. Either he or Mancini should have found a way for him to prepare better if he was going to be on the team. On a DC team all players should be ready to step up and play an unexpected tie. I know he played his heart out and is heartbroken, but it also is not fair to blame Nalby for everything that went wrong.

- As other have mentioned, if Nalby behaved like a diva is because he was permitted to do so.

- I believe that, ultimately, most everyone took the victory for granted, as much as was stated otherwise and to now place all the blame on one player is disingenious on their part.

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 05:44 PM

Hey avid sports fan! I'm just feeling abnormally weird today so don't mind me and my yapping! I am sad for Argentina too :(

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 05:44 PM

Welcome back, avid. Hope you caught all the important tennis action in your absence.

Posted by Ruth 11/24/2008 at 05:45 PM

NP: It was reported that, after it was clear which countries would be in the DC finals, del potro, referring to Rafa's strange pant-pulling habit, said jokingly that the Argentines would help Rafa take care of his pants. Apparently, there were even some Spanish fans in the stands with signs in the shape of underpants or with comments about the underpants "attack."

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 05:46 PM

NP, that's what I meant - just an affectionate joke.

Hi Avid! Missed you. *waves and smiles back*

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 05:48 PM

Wait I still don't get something.... Elf P was injured. Right. But what about NALBY's match??? Why did he not play? Sorry for being so lost and out-dated but I don't know! I find it confusing! How can they have had one match instead of two to decide the outcome!!!!!!

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 05:49 PM

Zonie, I think they meant that Chucho wasn't ready because he had played relatively few matches leading up to the DC finals, which of course Mancini couldn't do a thing about.

Posted by avid sports fan (still smiling but can only post from work) 11/24/2008 at 05:50 PM

Thanks Maha, NP, jewell and all for the welcome back :).

I did catch up on the results and highlights on the news ;-) but was unable to watch the full length matches.

Posted by Arun 11/24/2008 at 05:51 PM

I'm not exactly sure why Nalby is being blamed for anything and everything - sure, he seems to have some ego but I don't believe it is the reason why Argies lost the DC. They were defeated by the Spanish TEAM, fair and square. Even with all the bright youngsters and the large number of capable oldies in the Argentine Tennis horizon they seem to be on the same spot where they were by the end of 2006 final and highly dependent on Nalby - the management hasn't made a solid team/selection out of those talents.

If I was Nalby and if I see my team-mates are not pulling up the socks while I try hard throughout the season for DC? Possibly. For example, I understand that nobody is more hurt than Chucho himself by his loss - still I was a bit surprised that a player who has been a pro since 2000 (doesn't matter if he's played recently or not, if he's in the team for the final he IS expected to be/get ready) made 50 UEs and 37 Forced errors in a crucial match and fails to survive physically/mentally the 5th set (indoor.. even when the entire stadium is behind you)..

Posted by Vie 11/24/2008 at 05:51 PM

Well after all these comments, I am now of the opinion that we might be overly putting blame on Nalbandian for the disaster. It was a mixture of circumstances preceding and during which contributed to disorganization, let-down and failure.

Posted by Syd 11/24/2008 at 05:51 PM

HI Avid, welcome back!

Posted by Syd 11/24/2008 at 05:52 PM

Arun: Quite. well said.

Posted by Arun 11/24/2008 at 05:52 PM

Zonie: I'm glad you said it already and without being verbose. :)

ASF: Good to see your name on TW again! :)

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 05:52 PM

Thx for the info, Ruth. Wish I'd known it earlier, for a better viewing experience. :)

jewell, I did see you saw it as an affectionate joke, but you also seemed to think someone could interpret it the wrong way, which I thought was highly unlikely.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 05:53 PM

Didn't Chucho have some treatment during that match too? - I wonder if that had anything to do with the tameness of the final set though.

I still want to know what Mancini was doing.

Posted by linex 11/24/2008 at 05:54 PM

I guess it is now when David Nalbandian will need to show everyone if he is mentally tough. Because newspapers and people at public forums are blaming him for the defeat, I wonder if he will now enter the court with that feeling that he is "Rey David" or if he will end up joining Coria and Gaudio in the sidelines.

Or either he gets fitter and continues training or he enters into a big deppression.

I remember that Coria was hugely criticized for reaching the final in Beijing against Nadal and not tanking his match in the semi finals for arriving earlier to Slovakia to play the semis. Rumours says that the team and especially Nalbandian were very diappointed with Coria. Coria had already started with his serving problems at that time but things got much worse during that tie and after the tie, and he was never the same again.

I just hope this serves as a learning experience for Nalbandian and that as many human beings do, he gets stronger from this experience, because I know that his reputation has been damaged with all this rumours. Only a few believe that he plays for the nation´s pride, because now everyone is saying that he had all this economical interests behind. Who knows the truth.

What is surprising is that if he the devil, why no earth no one said anything, niether the press or his teamates about his behaviour? It is only now after the defeat that his problems that started as soon as the semis were over are all disclosed.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 05:54 PM

NP, see posts on previous thread by potpourri. :) You know how oversensitive and touchy we Rafa fans can be. :)

Posted by Maha (2009 = The Return of the King. The Mighty Federer will rise again) 11/24/2008 at 05:55 PM

OK guys gtg.... internet about to be shut down in 5 min. BYE!!!!

Posted by Ruth 11/24/2008 at 05:56 PM

Thanks, maha and jewell for explaining the pants thing.:)

Nice to see you back here, Viv and avid. I'm glad that the DC discussion brought you back or, at least, that your return coincided with discussion of one of my favorite tennis topics.:)

My USO buddy and I have just bought our tickets for the WTA 3/2/09 exo in New York; so I doubt that I'll be attending the DC tie, also in early March. But, as I said earlier, I can't wait to see how first ties turn out and to read the TW discussions that will accompany them.

Go, USA! Go, Serbia!

Posted by greenhopper 11/24/2008 at 05:57 PM

aviddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd !!!!!!

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 05:58 PM

No problem, avid. And don't feel bad if you didn't catch all the action. That's what YouTube is for. :)

Posted by Violetta 11/24/2008 at 05:59 PM

Arun-You do realize that it's not the first time Chucho has lost a 5 set match on indoor HC in a DC tie, right? He did the same in Russia in 2006. Which makes one wonder why Mancini named him to the team in the first place. I guess it's like linex said-he didn't have that many options.

Posted by avid sports fan (still smiling but can only post from work) 11/24/2008 at 06:00 PM

Thanks Syd, Arun, Ruth!

greenhopper - LOL! pls we need a resuscitation team right now :)

NP - I need to get my computer fixed asap so I can catch up on youtube ;-)

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 06:01 PM

jewell, you mean that's only limited to Rafa fans? You obviously haven't paid close attention to Fed KADs. :)

Posted by NP 11/24/2008 at 06:03 PM

avid, that explains why you can only post from work. Hope you'll get it fixed soon.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 06:05 PM

NP, will answer that on other thread as not really on topic? (and I'm trying so hard to stay on topic on this one.)

I haven't really paid enough attention to Verdasco in all of this but he really came through yesterday. I'm proud for him.

Posted by Arun 11/24/2008 at 06:05 PM

"What is surprising is that if he the devil, why no earth no one said anything, niether the press or his teamates about his behaviour? It is only now after the defeat that his problems that started as soon as the semis were over are all disclosed."

If Argentina had won, everybody would be singing in praise of each other and how inspirational Nalby was. Failure is perennial orphan and they wanted to designate a parent in the name of Nalby.

Violetta: Chucho was just an example (it's even more disappointing that he's done the same thing, btw). I was also talking about the poor team selection in the same (and other) posts.

Posted by Arun 11/24/2008 at 06:07 PM

* I meant how inspirational every team member was.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 06:09 PM

But there were murmurings of discontent before the defeat, for example, over the location.

Posted by beth 11/24/2008 at 06:10 PM

ok - I have read through the post and the responses.
I tend to agree with Pete. Nalbandian was the self appointed leader of this team. And instead of leading and encouraging - he pouted, made demands about surface and playing area and argued with his teammates. He undermined their chances with his diva like behavior. ( if you need any further analogies of how bad that is for a team , see Owens, Terrell. )

I do not blame JMDP for playing Shanghai - who knows when those opportunities would ever come up again. So , Nalbandian taking his own frustration out on the kid is ridiculous.

maha - yes , JMDP tried a foolish attempt at trash talking , saying the Argies would pull Rafa's undies out of his bottom ( translation , they would kick his a**)
ooops - wrong
and the Spanish fans heard about it , and waved jockey shorts at him all day long :)
Someone needs to talk to that boy , locker room bulletin board material is never a good thing to give you opponents:)

Posted by linex 11/24/2008 at 06:11 PM

I guess Pete has a point there when he talks about Delpo and his motivation, it seems that during the semis and before this war started between choice of venues, swap in rankings between Nalbi and Delpo, etc., Delpo felt completely backed up by the whole team and especially by Nalbandian. And he came out like possesed to win those 2 ties that I watched live in Argentina in Parque Roca, that team support before you enter the court seems essential. The pictures that preceded that tie showed great joy in all the team.

As others pointed out, it seems each Argentine player that entered the court from point 2 onwards was carrying loads of pressure and cero joy. Even Nalbandian must have felt the pressure in that doubles match when he missed a couple of balls he usually doesn´t like the famous backhand volley or the crucial double fault, I do not buy that he was distracted by the spanish fan who shouted in the middle of the point.

Posted by Syd 11/24/2008 at 06:12 PM

Yes, Arun. of course, there must be a scapegoat in these sorts of situations. :) They can hardly come out and say: we sucked.

BTW do players get paid for Davis Cup?

Posted by greenhopper 11/24/2008 at 06:13 PM

Ms. Avid Sports Fan,
Its so nice to have you back, esp. because no-one LsOL on my silly posts anymore. ;)

Posted by linex 11/24/2008 at 06:14 PM


I do not know if they get paid, but the argentine players made an arrangement with the Argentine Tennis Federation and they would have a share of the revenues derived from the sale of tickets for the final.

Posted by Syd 11/24/2008 at 06:16 PM

Thanks linex. :)

Posted by beth 11/24/2008 at 06:16 PM

ok - does anyone else think that shadow photo of Nalbandian looks like he is picking his nose ?

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 06:17 PM

Greenhopper, I object, I LOL'd at you yesterday!

Wasn't one of the issues that Nalbandian would have made money if it had been held in Cordoba, out of revenue? - just repeating what I think I've so could be entirely wrong.

Posted by Nancy 11/24/2008 at 06:17 PM

Two days ago it was Delpo's turn to get blasted and now it's Nalby's? cool.
I think a couple of weeks ago Pspace pretty much summed it up when he said that Nalby may or may not be the devil just like Nole. Ofcourse this is all his fault. That bastard.

But just out of curiousty, what ways exactly could he magically created to win the dubs? Feli and hott pants have been playing A LOT together and they're by far a better dubs team than Nalby/Calleri.

"Nalbandian is hurting today; there's no good reason to pile on any more than necessary"

Yeah, Pete. You really gone soft on him in this article.

Posted by jewell 11/24/2008 at 06:17 PM

*repeating what I think I've read, I meant to say.

Posted by CL 11/24/2008 at 06:19 PM

I really don't have much to add to this 'blame game' thread. Talk about conflicted! I wanted the Argies, (despite my Santa-ish Nalby hateration), to win because they never have, and the Spaniards to win because w/out Rafa they were the clear underdogs. In the end, I ended up feeling sorry for the entire Argie team, including Nalby - someone should check my meds. There was some very good tennis played and some shockingly bad tennis played. Some of the 'volleys' that hot Sauce and Choo-Choo hit were barely worthy of the name. In fact they reminded me of this tape that TC keeps showing of how to teach a VERY little kid to hit a tennis ball: Put a racket in their hand and then have them use the racket to 'high 5' the teacher. Seriously, at the net, those two weren't as good as some of the 3 year olds.

I am miffed I missed Mrs. Santa. OTH, I have solved the mystery of the seeming lack of resemblance between Emilio Sanchez, who is very good looking, and his sister Arantxa who is...less so. its the mouth... every time Emilio spoke to his team...which was a LOT... he looked just like sis...or vice versa. Mouth closed...not so much.

Posted by Veruca Salt 11/24/2008 at 06:23 PM

If I could add another "woulda", perhaps the Argies were so caught up with trying to trip up Nadal that underestimated the other guys. I mean,they didn't want to play on clay because they felt that it would give Spain too much of an advantage. But did they forget that Ferru, FLO, and Hott Sauce are all outstanding hard court players?

Just sayin'.

Posted by linex 11/24/2008 at 06:25 PM

Oh Nancy,

Hugs. I hope you still remain a great David Nalbandian fan. I still harbour the hope that he is capable of giving us all a big surprise in the most unexpected moment a win another big tournament. But as I said I have fears, sometimes rumours can damage people, but in my inside I belive that Nalbi is stronger than Coria mentally. I think that he is a resilient person.

Posted by Syd 11/24/2008 at 06:26 PM


no, clearly it can be seen that he isn't. Polish those glasses!

Posted by beth 11/24/2008 at 06:28 PM

Veruca - I think you have just made a very , very good point .
Using a clay surface would have hurt the Spaniards , without Rafa .

Posted by linex 11/24/2008 at 06:29 PM

Yes Beth but David Ferrer moves well on clay as does Nico Almagro.

Posted by beth 11/24/2008 at 06:30 PM

Syd - contacts ( not glasses ) are fine
and from my view - it looks like his finger in firmly inserted up his nostril :)

Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode -
"It was a scratch , not a pick "

Posted by Syd 11/24/2008 at 06:31 PM

Beth: lol!

Posted by beth 11/24/2008 at 06:32 PM

linex - true - but neither of those players has been in good form of late
particularly Almagro -
and sadly , Ferru is in a crisis of confidence

Nalbandian and Chucho are great clay court players -
Chucho would have had a better chance against either Feli or Verdasco on the clay

but , it does not really matter now

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