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?