As soon as the Spain vs Argentina DC final was set, it was all but assured someone would be left crying. Still, I doubt too many people expected tears on the first day of competition. I certainly didn’t expect to see them from Nalby, who was crying as he stood next to his teammates, as Argentina’s national anthem played at La Cartuja stadium in Sevilla:
This is most likely the last DC final Nalby will ever play–perhaps he had a premonition for how the day’s matches would play out before the first ball was even struck.
As predicted, Pico lost 1-6 1-6 2-6 to clay-court master Rafa Nadal, who has apparently rediscovered his will to live after the disappointment in London.
The key match for Argentina was the 2nd rubber between DelPo and Ferru. After a lackluster first set, DelPo charged ahead to take a 2 sets to 1 lead. From there, his shaky first-serve and poor shot-making on key points, combined with a relative lack of fitness compared to Ferru, marred DelPo’s heretofore excellent game. This 5-hour match went the full distance, with Ferru winning 6-2 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-3. The outcome effectively shuts the door on Argentina’s chances.
In spite of the high quality of play, what stays with me is DelPo’s unease with taking control of a match he had on his racquet. He hit 71 winners on a clay court. Yet his nerves and errors ultimately betrayed him, while Ferru’s superb retrieval skills and fitness won out in the end. A highlights clip of the match would have you believing DelPo was the victor, although it was in the smaller moments that also matter where Ferru won the match. There were devastated tears for the exhausted giant at the end:
If there are positives to be taken from this match, it’s that DelPo seems well-ready to make a strong run in 2012. His forehands were back to their paean-inspiring form, although the errors in his game will also need to be addressed–his seeming inability to punish 2nd serves, the half-hearted approaches to the net, and his reluctance to create angles on an open court.
In 2008, DelPo was blasted for playing in the fall and at the WTF. This year, he is questioned for skipping the fall and perhaps compromising his match-fitness. That DelPo and Nalby both scheduled their 2011 fall seasons (or rather, their lack of one) around this final makes these losses all the more gut-wrenching for Argentina.
May Nalby win a match for his country though, when he plays doubles on Saturday.
It’s a true shame he probably won’t have the chance to play the deciding rubber for Argentina, but no one can deny “El Rey” deserves his chance on the stage in Sevilla.