Davis Cup: Historic Win for the Czechs — What Does it Mean?

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.

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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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4 Responses to Davis Cup: Historic Win for the Czechs — What Does it Mean?

  1. ChachouMiaou says:

    I agree with you, I also find Berdych’s comments inappropriate. I have nothing against him as a player, but I do not appreciate those arrogant comments. That’s probably why I’m a Ferru fan. As you said, David would never stoop to that level.
    For me, Steps takes the credit for this win, not Berdych… You could even argue Berdych was the weakest link, after all, he did not do any better against Ferru than Steps did, and he was supposed to do better because of his ranking.

    I was not really shocked that the Spanish team did not rush to console Nico, either. Regarding Ferru at least, though I couldn’t see the ceremony (the TV station stopped showing tennis and went on to something else) my impression was that he was immensely disappointed himself. I can very well understand that after winning both rubbers in such an impressive way, it must have been difficult for him to feel sorry for anyone else but himself. I don’t think anyone blamed Nico afterwards. Also, maybe sometimes it’s better to let people deal with it, I’m not sure I would like people to rush towards me in that situation.

    I also agree that Feli’s comments were inappropriate, though. I think you’re right, when you’re part of a team, you keep those secrets inside the team. It does no good whatsoever to voice your discontent, it only puts your team under more pressure (it puts Corretja under pressure, and even worse, it put Nico under even more pressure because his legitimacy was being questioned).

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Yup, Stepanek really did step up to the plate when he won the deciding rubber. I honestly didn’t have a clue who would win the match-up between Nico & Steps, but it was clear that Steps was on fire during that match. If Steps had lost, all of Berdy’s trash-talking would have made him look like a total fool, so he owes one to Steps, that’s for sure 😉

      Ferru must’ve been pretty disappointed. He played the DC SF tie, straight after playing the SF at the USO, which helped Spain reach the final. Then he plays a busy indoor HC season and does everything he needed to do for the team. In that sense, I can understand why he’d feel very disappointed. It just wasn’t Nico’s day. I totally agree with you — I think it’s often better to give people a little space to deal with bad news. Also, I think each DC team is a little different: Some DC teams are more about “touchy-feely” behavior, while other DC teams have a different dynamic.

      Feli’s comments were so inappropriate! I like Feli as a player, but I still think he was out of line with that comment. If he really wanted to play the DC final, he should have played better throughout the season so that Corretja would have a good reason to pick him. I wonder if this means anything for Feli’s presence on the team next year…it should be interesting to see what happens next!

  2. queridorafa says:

    Catching up on many of your posts now! I always enjoy your take on things. In retrospect it is a little surprising Berdych didn’t catch more heat for his comments–maybe b/c it’s such a novelty in tennis,people tend to be more fascinated/amused by these relatively rare occurences than angered? I think it was Bruce Jenkins on si.com that recently called him a “fop” for it, though, so there’s that 😉 I also didn’t think the lack of affection b/t Nico and the team was a big deal…if he’d been crying or something and they kept their distance, that would have been different, but as it was, it seemed like everyone was pretty calm about it.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Hi! Apologies for the late reply, I guess I’d been taking a mini-vacation from the blog!

      I didn’t catch the Bruce Jenkins article, but I love that he used the word “fop” to describe Berdy’s comments. That word is now lodged in my mind, and I will have to use it later when the occasion arises 🙂

      Berdy’s comments just irritated me — I think it was made slightly worse by the fact that people now seem to idealize him for that kind of behavior. I guess I see Berdy the same way I used to see Soderling, as an evil villain who’s actually not *that* bad, but I still root against him and all his evils! Of course, I’ve since changed my views on Soderling, who’s become more like the good guy this past yr! (although the circumstances surrounding why that happened are slightly unfortunate *boo mono*)

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