This year has seen its share of Davis Cup drama. Stan criticized Fed for not electing to play the Swiss DC tie against the the Czech Republic . Tomic has been lambasted in the press for his immaturity and his lack of focus, thus leading to his non-selection for Australia’s R1 tie. Kohlschreiber said he would not play DC under German captain Patrick Kuhnen (Kuhnen stepped down and was eventually replaced by Carsten Arriens).
However, DelPo’s announcement that he would skip all DC ties in 2013 probably trumps them all. While his skipping the R1 tie was fully expected, his announcement today that he would skip all of of the DC ties in 2013 comes as an unexpected surprise.
The Apparent Conflict Between DelPo & Jaite:
Earlier this week, DelPo’s coach Franco Davin spoke to ESPN Deportes, to clear up the media outcry that followed DelPo’s announcement that he wouldn’t play R1. Per Davin, Jaite had only given 50 days notice for DelPo to decide whether or not to play R1. While Davin acknowledged that DelPo was slow to make a final decision, he said the captain did not give adequate time and that it was difficult to communicate with Jaite. When DelPo did not respond to Jaite’s deadline for stating his availability for the R1 tie, Jaite left him out of the R1 tie against Germany.
Overall, it looks like another breakdown in communication between the warring factions of ARG’s DC team. It is truly confounding how the seemingly functional DC team ARG fielded in 2011 has fallen apart so quickly in 2012.
In today’s presser, DelPo said he had finally spoken with Jaite. Canchallena provides the full transcript of the interview with DelPo (in Spanish), which provides an interesting insight into the disagreements between DelPo and Jaite. I’ve compiled a short summary of the transcript from the linked Canchallena article:
- DelPo was unhappy with Jaite’s comments to the press, following ARG’s loss to the CZE this year. He thinks Jaite spoke unnecessarily to the media about both the internal team dynamic and DelPo’s decision to ultimately not play the 4th rubber (due to wrist injury), which led to false news items being reported about him.
- When asked about the Argentina Tennis Association (AAT), DelPo faulted the leaders for not consulting him when they selected Jaite as captain.
**It’s worth noting here that DelPo got along well with former DC captain Tito Vazquez, while Nalby famously did not get along well with Tito (which later led to Tito’s comments that Nalby was not a positive presence on the team). It’s also worth noting that Tito’s selection as ARG’s DC captain in 2008 was widely criticized at the time, as he’d been chosen over Clerc, Vilas and Jaite. Are you keeping up with all this? The SF loss to the Czechs this year has ignited the current downward spiral. DelPo’s problems seem to stem from a personal disagreement with Jaite.
- Interestingly, DelPo acknowledges he is partly at fault for the mis-communication:
“Look, there are times I do lack communication and I am working to try and improve this … I don’t like to argue or fight … I played more than 80 matches this year, gave more than 80 press conferences. But I do know that if I’d given more timely responses, this year could have been a lot different and I will work to make sure that everyone is happy and content in the next year.”
- When asked if he was hurt by the booing and whistling from the home crowd at Parque Roca in the SF against the Czechs, DelPo says it did in fact bother him. However, he hopes that people will understand that he is a 24 y.o. who is trying to fight for the top spot on the individual circuit.
Following ARG’s SF loss to the Czechs, Argentinean media reported that DelPo had made special requests during the tie (use of a better gym, skipping team training sessions to train alone, etc). DelPo seems rankled that the press and the team would report such a thing. DelPo’s left wrist injury meant he had to travel to the U.S. to visit his doctor, which meant he could not attend the team training sessions and other events. In that sense, the media’s characterization of DelPo as being selfish or diva-like during the SF tie should be questioned, as they may have overlooked the circumstances of his left wrist injury.
What does this all mean?
If we can look away from the “he said/she said” aspect of this tortuous tale though, it’s a true shame that ARG can’t pull themselves together to take advantage of a potentially weak draw. This latest decision may mean Argentina will miss out on a prime opportunity, given how Nico and Ferru have already told Sport360 that they are reluctant to play DC in 2013 (Ferru will skip Spain’s R1 tie against Canada) and Spain may be fielding a weaker team in 2013. Also, I’d give a penny for Nalbandian’s thoughts here — you have to believe he has plenty to say on this latest development.
I wonder if DelPo is trying to force the AAT’s hand with his announcement that he will not play DC next year. Is he trying to force Jaite out the door, while biding his time until Jaite’s captaincy is over? That theory seems likes a stretch, although Kohlschreiber’s declaration that he would not play for DC under Patrick Kuhnen seems to have worked for him, as Kuhnen is out and Kohli is now confirmed to play Germany’s R1 tie against Argentina.
In any case, the positive takeaways from DelPo’s latest press conference are:
- He is self-aware and realizes how he should improve his communication skills with the DC team in the future.
- DelPo’s stated reason for skipping all the 2013 DC ties is that he wants to win another Slam and fight for the no. 1 ranking. He said, “I can’t make everyone happy. I dream of winning more Grand Slams and to be number 1 in the world.” Last year, DelPo had been much more evasive about his season goals for 2012. That he is now outright stating that he wants to win more Slams and contend for no. 1 in 2013 is a significant forward shift and a positive sign of his confidence level.
- Jaite, for his part, spoke to Radio Vorterix and responded that “It’s important to respect [Juan Martin’s] decisions.” He also said, “It’s a loss to not have him on our team, but the spot is always open for him … First, I hope that Argentina wins the R1 over Germany. If we reach the QF and [Juan Martin] changes his mind and wants to play, there is no problem. He will be well-received and will continue to be an important member for our team.” If Argentina do in fact make it past Germany, DelPo will likely have until mid-February to change his mind about playing a QF tie. Jaite seems to have relented a bit from his prior position. The avenues are open, in any case.
DelPo’s Early Schedule for 2013:
Even if DelPo does change his mind about DC, it’s unclear whether a DC QF would fit into his schedule. In the same presser, he announced his early 2013 tournaments. He is set to play the Australian Open – Rotterdam – Marseilles – Dubai- Indian Wells – Miami – Estoril/Munich – Madrid – Rome – Roland Garros.
DelPo will not play a warm-up tournament prior to the AO (he played Sydney in 2012). Aside from Sydney, DelPo’s early schedule for 2013 is no different from 2012. This means he will play 5 straight weeks of tournaments after the AO. Following a short break after Miami, DelPo will then play 3 straight weeks on clay courts before RG. At least he left out Sydney this time around…