Davis Cup: The Dream Comes to an End, Leaves an Ugly Mess in its Wake

After Argentina’s loss to Spain in last year’s Davis Cup final, their chances for 2012 never looked better.  They were guaranteed a home tie, DelPo was back, Nalbandian was ever willing and able, Rafa was seemingly out for the rest of the year, etc.

Unfortunately, bad luck got in the way of Argentina and they were defeated in the SF.  Thus marks the end of their run in 2012 and the Davis Cup dream is still unfulfilled.

This is pretty depressing.  That Argentina lost in such a straightforward fashion is the dash of vinegar poured on top of the salt, which was sprinkled liberally upon the open wound.  I hope I’ve properly conveyed the bleakness of the situation here.

DelPo Aggravated His Wrist Injury By Playing Opening Rubber

There was a fair amount of drama that occurred during this SF tie.  DelPo’s wrist injury put his participation in doubt from the very start.  His decision to play the opening rubber, despite his doctor’s recommendation not to play, cast a cloud over the tie.  It was clearly a risky move for DelPo to play.  However, he played his opening rubber and defeated Stepanek in straight sets.

However, DelPo aggravated the injury to his left wrist by playing this rubber.  He was never entirely comfortable playing this tie, but the pressure clearly compelled him to play at least one match.  From his previous presser comments, the implication seemed to be that he would play one rubber in this tie.  The pain he felt in his left wrist after the Steps match compelled him to withdraw from the reverse singles rubber.

Here’s where it gets complicated.  DelPo did not want to communicate the news of his withdrawal until the doubles rubber was completed on Saturday.  From a big picture perspective, this makes sense.  Why communicate bad news to the team, right ahead of a critical rubber on Saturday?

This led to accusations that DelPo was not committed to playing for Argentina.  This is patently false and it’s an emotionally based accusation that will soon lose its luster.

Many factors are behind Argentina’s loss to the Czech Republic (the first loss for Argentina at Parque Roca): 1) Nalbandian’s withdrawal due to injury, which put increased pressure on the rest of the team, especially DelPo.  2) DelPo’s wrist condition, which compelled him to play at the risk of his long-term health.  He’s now received doctor’s orders to rest for 40 days, which means he will not play the Shanghai Masters.  3) Pico’s loss to Berdy on Friday.  That Pico was up 4-1 in the fourth set, before he lost only heightens the “What if?” questions of the loss.

Internal Team Drama

I’d noticed a pattern among Muzz fans (pre-Grand Slam win) — for Muzz fans, each SF/F loss used to be another opportunity for self-flagellation.  “What is wrong with him?  Why is he so tragic?  Why does he keep blaming his wristband?”

DelPo is sort of like the wristband in this scenario.  There were greater factors at play behind this loss.  The wristband played a role, but there were other people involved too.  Obviously, if DelPo had been at full strength, Argentina may very well have won the tie (I think they would have, because Berdy wasn’t playing especially well this weekend).  There’s no use blaming the wristband though, because it won’t change the result.

An Argentinean article detailed the relationship between DelPo and the Davis Cup team.  In Dec. 2011, no one from the Argentinean tennis association consulted DelPo before they chose Martin Jaite as DC captain.  Given the fact that Jaite used to be Nalby’s coach (during the 2008 DC final), DelPo may not have been fully at ease with Jaite.

The article is from a credible source and it sheds light on the complicated relationship DelPo may have with the AAT.  Apparently, DelPo had problems with security and transportation during the DC QF tie.  He also reportedly had an issue with the fact that there was no suitable gym at the Parque Roca site.  This is new information to me, so I’m unsure about the full extent of the problem.

The article mentions that given DelPo’s injury condition, Jaite was more lenient with DelPo — Jaite allowed DelPo to miss the official team photo and he allowed DelPo to train off-site in Palermo, while the rest of the team trained at Parque Roca.  DelPo and Jaite then had a “tense” conversation last Wednesday, before DelPo made his decision to play the opening rubber.  Jaite reportedly told DelPo that he had to attend the official team dinner, or he would risk expulsion from the team.

Another article states that DelPo told Jaite and Zabaleta,”I’ll play, but if something happens to me, the blame falls on you.”  This is clearly not a healthy working relationship.  There are two ways to see this, either DelPo was being rude or DelPo was flustered by the pressure that Jaite gave to DelPo to play.

This is a lot of information to process, and I’m still unsure whether or not it’s all relevant, or whether it just seems so because Argentina lost.  However, the article does note that DelPo’s team did not wear the official team clothing during DelPo’s rubber, and they sat away from everyone.  Given how Franco was against DelPo playing the tie, this may point to some tension between DelPo’s team and the AAT.

Jaite’s recent comments, where he implied that DelPo doesn’t have the personality of a team leader, are also baffling.  Jaite seems to think Pico has more of a leader’s personality.  I don’t know what to make of that, and I am confused by how that is supposed to help his team function as a unit in the future.

When Will DelPo Return to the Tour?

DelPo announced he will miss the Shanghai Masters and now he will take a rest of 40 days before returning to the tour.  Although sources said DelPo will return to play in Valencia, DelPo is actually signed up for Basel.  Either way, the hope is that he is at full gas to return by then.

This is a nervy time, given the timeline of the left wrist injury.  It almost mirrors the way his right wrist injury unfolded in 2009-2010.  All we can do is wish that it doesn’t turn out the same way.

Six weeks ago, DelPo won bronze at the Olympics.  He followed that up with a SF showing at Cincy and an impressive QF run at the USO.  Now he is on leave due to injury.  A lot has changed for him since then.

Calling the Karma Police on Berdy & Steps

One additional note: the Czechs killed it when it came to being unsporting this past weekend.  Stepanek’s claims of gamesmanship were completely unfounded and ridiculous.

I understand a fair number of tennis fans are now entranced by Berdy’s Instagramming and they love how complicated he is, which just makes me roll my eyes.  His game when it’s on is nice to watch, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s a brat.

When asked about DelPo’s injury, Berdy reportedly said, “I don’t care about Juan Martin.  He can take care of himself.”

You can call it his personal brand of bluntness or his “Czech humor” (I love how all personal failings can be swept under the claim, “It’s because he’s from [country XYZ].  They’re complicated there, you just don’t understand”).

But that’s the kind of line that the villain in Rambo would say before he gets knocked down by karmic forces, right?

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About mariposaxprs

I play favorites with Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Gilles Simon and the long line of mercurial talent that drives me to despair in front of the screen at odd hours during the week.
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10 Responses to Davis Cup: The Dream Comes to an End, Leaves an Ugly Mess in its Wake

  1. Sarah says:

    I recently discovered your blog after seeing your twitter. You’ve done a great job.
    I was wondering what exactly happened in 2008 with Davis Cup. I wasn’t a follower of Davis Cup back then. I only know bits and pieces of what happened, but I wanted to know the whole story.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Thank you, Sarah, for the kind compliment!

      At the 2008 DC final, DelPo traveled to Argentina right after playing the 2008 Shanghai Tennis Masters Cup. He got injured while playing that event, which may have been the reason for his subsequent loss to Feli in the DC singles rubber. Nalby was reportedly unhappy with the fact that DelPo chose to play the year-end final, b/c Nalby thought DelPo should have sacrificed everything for DC. They ended up trading heated words w/each other and reportedly got into a locker-room fight. ARG (who were the favorites to finally win DC that year) lost to Spain (who were playing without Nadal), in what was considered an upset. That’s why the 2008 DC final is a pretty dark time in recent ARG DC history 😦

  2. Candy says:

    Thanks for the summary of Team ARG’s internal drama! I have a lot of thoughts on it. However, yes, the atmosphere must be so tense in the team comparing to other teams/ countries, due to the pressure to win DC. But is it that sometimes we just “over-read” their drama?!

    It is what it is. I’m more concerned of Delpo’s wrist. I’m wondering why Delpo picked up another similar/ same wrist injury. I’m wondering if it’s something about his skills/ physique/ even allergy?! What caused this injury? Hope his team/ dr. know it so that he can avoid it in the future.

    (Yea, when the tennis Gods gave you something big, you probably knew they would take you something later. But after they took a lot from you, they would give you something big later. Grand Slam -> serious injury & setbacks -> Olympic medal -> serious (?!) injury & setbacks -> big thing is waiting for us. (but pls no serious injury anymore.) *praying*)

    • mariposaxprs says:

      I wonder what the true cause of all their problems is too. Honestly, I think DelPo and his team possibly could have handled the communication of his withdrawal in a better fashion. On the other hand, given the fact that Jaite was unsympathetic to DelPo’s injury in the first place, isn’t it completely understandable that DelPo felt uncomfortable speaking with him? Most ARG articles are saying DelPo doesn’t speak to the DC team, but I’m not 100% sure this is the case…I guess we’ll have to wait for more news? 😦

      I’m seriously worried about his left wrist too—I wonder, will he be in the USA to meet with his doctor regularly for treatment? I wish there were more news about the specific nature of his injury, b/c it’s starting to sound too much like his right wrist injury before. Last year at the DC final, I was curious how Spain’s DC team was always *so fit all the time.* This year, with Nalby & DelPo suffering from injuries, I sometimes wonder if maybe Argentina need more fitness/physio resources? Honestly, this is what I think is the problem. I’m curious how his fitness regimen compares to other players — I think that’s an area that doesn’t get a lot of media coverage. Does he need to go gluten-free?!?

      I hate how all these setbacks make us think that each time something good happens to DelPo, something just as/even more awful will happen in return. But it really feels that way sometimes 😦

      • Candy says:

        I don’t know if ARG’s tennis generally doesn’t have enough fitness/ physio resources. But as a Delpo’s fan, I’m, sometimes, like you, jealous of players (e.g. Murray) who have a “big” team to support them. I don’t know other players’ entourage, but I think top players don’t only have 2 people in their team. While I don’t think Delpo should “fire” Franco & Martiniano, it’d be better if he has some more people in the team to assist him?!

        I’m, like you, curious how Team ESP is always so fit, and I’m also envy their friendship. Not only at DC, they’re very good friends on tour on & off court. They practice together, dine together, play video games/ parchis, watch football together, etc. Also they chat & show their support to others on Twitter too. The bonding is so strong.
        Why can’t ARG players have this strong bonding? Or is it just Delpo? I mean, sometimes I do wonder if Delpo’s “too” quiet?!

        btw, enjoy your weekend & hope you are able to watch some love tennis again 😀

  3. Iram says:

    u r very true when u say “…A lot has changed for him since then.” this is unfortunate. He’s so young and has so much potential. i don’t think he should have played dc knowing it could further damage his injury, but he’s so hell-bent (and i dont mean this in a negative way) in competing in davis cup…he wants this title so badly. But I’m not sure if it should come with the price of more injuries and thus having to take time off the circuit. And I’m sure in the long run, Delpo wants to be a “tennis player” and not a “davis Cup participant”.

    thanks for ur post. hey i had a ?… I know u dont really write about womens tennis…but I know u r from Korea. Theres a WTA tourney going on in Seoul right now, do u have any desire to go there?

    • Iram says:

      and one more thing, I AM SOOOO FREAKIN’ happy for Spain that they’re thru again! 🙂 they r genius at this sport as a team. And they did it minus Rafa!

      • mariposaxprs says:

        Seriously, the Armada are a MACHINE. But they’re a happy machine and they work so well, even without their top player. It’s amazing that Ferru reached the SF at the USO and then flew straight to the DC tie in Spain, where he played again.

        I liked seeing Corretja’s tweets and his happy photos with Nico, Ferru and Marc (who’s turning out to be a top doubles plyr!) Congrats to them, and I hope they win it this year!

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Yea, this weekend’s SF loss really raised a lot of questions about DelPo & Davis Cup. I think part of the problem is that Nalbandian has always been so committed to Davis Cup (moreso than any other player on the ATP). Yet Nalby’s commitment to Davis Cup also caused him a lot of harm/injury. It’s safe to say DelPo probably wants to take a different path and make sure he looks out for his health first. It’s just troubling b/c Argentina expect so much from their tennis players, and are quick to criticize them whenever they lose. It’s always dramatic, and now DelPo’s left wrist injury looks pretty worrisome indeed 😦

      On a more positive note, I got to see a couple of hours of live tennis at the WTA tourny in Seoul on Monday!! 🙂 I saw Wozniacki, Anabel Medina Garrigues, and Kaia Kanepi — it was nice to see live tennis again. It takes place at the Seoul Olympics venue, which is near where I live (literally 10 minutes away). I took a bunch of photos and I was thinking of doing a mini-photo post later, with them! Due to work, I won’t be able to attend during the workdays, but I’m def planning to attend the SF/F over the weekend!

      • Iram says:

        have fun at the events. Please post ur pics WHEN U HAVE TIME! 🙂 no rush. And i’ve seen Caroline here in indian wells. i know she’s recently on a downward spiral, but she has a nice personality. t c

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