Apologies for the lack of recent updates!
I’ll be posting an overview of DelPo’s performance at the WTF, along with a wrap-up of his year very shortly. In the meantime, I share my thoughts on the DC final this past weekend:
Davis Cup: Czechs win
In a match-up between two equals, the Czechs defeated Spain to win the Davis Cup. The result was decided in a fifth rubber, and Steps staged an upset over Nico to win it for the Czech Republic. It was a nice win for the Czechs, as Berdy and Steps pulled their country to victory in 2012. This is the stuff that legends like Ljubicic are made of, and due credit goes to them for their efforts this year.
Still, I find it tough to overlook their lack of sporting behavior.
Prior to the tie, Berdy made quite a few classless comments about Nico. Many journos are now saying, “‘Well, wasn’t Berdy correct that Nico was the weakest link?” and “Doesn’t that therefore make Berdy an astute prophet?” I’m honestly baffled by the extent to which tennis media are focusing on the wrong side of the issue here.
The issue isn’t about whether the substance of Berdy’s comments was correct. Anyone who watches tennis knows that Nico is not as accomplished a player as Ferru. Berdy was hardly prophetic. There’s a weak link in every Davis Cup team. It’s hardly rocket science to figure out which player is the weaker link — past experience tells the tale.
The real issue here is about class and character. As in, was it necessary for Berdy to say something like that? If you can take your eyes off his Instagram account for a second, you’ll find that Berdy doesn’t come out looking too great. Some people will try to argue that it’s fun to have colorful personalities. Personally, I don’t really see the point, although I guess it provides fodder for media stories and gives life to the 13 y.o. in some of us that still hankers after the bad boy.
Example: I have a colleague at work who has been on a diet for the longest time, but she seems to be gaining even more weight. What if I told everyone at work, “I bet she’ll weigh even more at the end of the year”? I’m 90% certain that I’d be correct. Would that make me an astute prophet, to voice my opinion publicly? Or would it just make me an as-hole? I’m pretty sure it’s the latter, although the media’s analysis of Berdy’s comments seems to suggest otherwise.
For what it’s worth, Berdy looked thoroughly chastened as he watched Steps during the 5th rubber. Perhaps that was the result of the beatdown he’d received from Ferru in the 4th rubber. Ferru could have made a wry comment about Berdy being easy pickings for him, but that’d be stooping to a very low level and Ferru’s too classy for such shenanigans.
Feli had earlier voiced his dissent with Corretja’s decision to play Nico over him in the DC final. Feli was also in the wrong to openly voice his dissent, as it not only diminishes his higher-ranked teammate, but it’s something that’s just not done. As an athlete, you have to respect your teammates and your opponent. Feli and Berdy should have kept quiet. I don’t understand why there isn’t more criticism of Berdy right now. Perhaps it’s the sheen of winning that takes the spotlight off such things, but that doesn’t make his low-rent comments any more excusable.
Will Berdy use this DC win to his advantage in 2013? It’s easy for him to take potshots at the lower-ranked players, but what can Berdy bring to the table against the top 5?
Spain’s DC win in 2008 saw Fer having a great year in 2009. Spain’s DC win in 2009 saw Rafa having a career year in 2010. Serbia’s DC win in 2010 saw the same for Djokovic in 2011. Ferru had a career year in 2012, after Spain’s DC win in 2011. However, Rafa and Djokovic won both of their rubbers in the DC finals. Ferru only had to play one rubber in the 2011 DC final, but he won what was probably the most important rubber in his opener against DelPo. Berdy, on the other hand, won a singles rubber and then lost a singles rubber, to the lower-ranked and higher-ranked player, respectively. It was Steps who clinched the decisive win for his country, at the grand age of 33.
At least DelPo put up a tough fight against both Ferru and Rafa in the 2011 DC final, whereas Berdy lost quite soundly to Ferru in the DC final this year. Perhaps the DC trophy will provide some momentum for Berdy, but the evidence so far is not as optimistic for his prospects in 2013. He is making a meal out of his trash-talking though, so I suppose we have more of that to look forward to next year.
For the most part, I’m not a fan of hubris and arrogance. It can be done, but the pool is exclusively limited to players who are at the top and who have proven themselves in every aspect. To some extent, that is why Federer’s occasionally self-serving comments pass the test, whereas an exaggerated version of such behavior from a lesser player leaves me scratching my head.
In my view, if you’re going to project that kind of arrogance as a habit, you need to bring it with you everywhere you go and back it up. As in, if Berdy talked trash about a player who’d just beaten him, I’d actually respect him more. But he can’t bring himself to do that. So maybe it’d make more sense if he subscribed to social norms like most mortals do? Now there’s a thought.
As for Nico, I like Nico and it was sad to see him play below his best level in the deciding rubber. Given how he’s publicly voiced his commitment to DC this past year, I hope this year is a learning experience for him. You have to love the guy’s fight, even if you cringed at his serves in the decider against Steps.
It doesn’t always happen on the first try. Trust me — as an Argentina fan, I would know that. All the more reason to support Nico’s progress and to hope for more in 2013.
People criticized Spain’s DC team for not rushing to console Nico after he’d lost the deciding rubber. Frankly, I don’t understand what the fuss is about. The Armada have won this event 3 times in the past 4 years. They’re used to winning. Nico tried his best, but he fell short. It would have been more condescending to Nico if the Armada tried half-heartedly to console him. Nico is well-aware of the Armada’s prior success, so there’s no need for his teammates and predecessors to pander to him. As some have noted, not everything needs to be done in plain sight. From what I’ve seen of the Armada these past few years, they have the cohesive teamwork that’s necessary to weather through this brief storm. And Nico has every intention of emerging the better player for it.