Argentina Defeat Germany:
The R1 ARG-GER tie was wracked with uncertainty from the start. First, DelPo made his big announcement that he would not play DC for all of 2013. Doubles specialist Edu Schwank’s injury withdrawal added to the troubles, as did Pico’s recurring injuries from last year. DC stalwart Nalbandian had not played in almost 5 months and he had aggravated an existing injury in the weeks leading up to the DC tie at Parque Roca.
Argentina entered the weekend with Charly Bercloq, Pico Monaco, David Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos.
To Argentina’s great relief, the team managed to secure a 5-0 whitewash over a weakened German side.
Berlocq played the 1st rubber against Kohlschreiber, in a matchup that featured the German 1H-backhander as the heavy favorite. It’s a credit to Berlocq for fighting and staying in the match, to the point where he forced a 5th set. While chasing down a dropshot in the 5th set, Kohli injured his hamstring and he could not chase down shots that were well within reach. At 5-4* in the 5th set, he retired and granted Argentina their first win.
Pico then played well (in spite of a poor H2H against Florian Mayer) to defeat the crafty German player in four sets. Argentina’s 2-0 lead heading into Saturday was certainly unexpected, but highly welcome. Kohli, who’d originally been scheduled to play doubles, had to withdraw with his hamstring injury, which meant Kas and Kamke had to form a makeshift team for Germany. Nalbandian and Zeballos played well to win in four sets and secure the tie for Argentina.
Argentina will now face France in the QF (at home in Argentina). France defeated Israel 5-0 to clinch their QF spot with their A-team (Tsonga, Gasquet, Llodra, Benneteau).
What followed after Argentina’s victory is especially notable, as the players and Martin Jaite revealed a bit of rancor against DelPo.
At the press conference, a reporter asked Horacio Zeballos, Martin Jaite and David Nalbandian if they had received a congratulatory message from DelPo on their win over Germany. Jaite said “No” in a bemused tone and Nalby also suppressed a smile as he said “No.” Zeballos then took the microphone and sarcastically asked, “Who?” (prior to the DC tie, Zeballos had told the media that DelPo was egotistical and selfish for not playing R1 against Germany).
Moments after the press conference, DelPo tweeted his congratulations to Team Argentina (last year, DelPo had also congratulated the team, after ARG defeated GER without him in R1 at Hamburg). It’s reported DelPo also sent a message to DC sub-captain Zabaleta, congratulating him on the win.
Argentinean journalists have noted the tense team environment, as it’s clear that the players and captain aren’t happy with DelPo’s absence. What’s worse is the alleged manner in which Team Argentina celebrated in the locker room, which included songs directed at DelPo:
“And there you see / and there you see / to Del Potro / watching it on TV,” along with “Where is he? / Delpo, where is he?”
In a somewhat baffling turn of events, Jaite confirmed that he would soon be contacting DelPo to ask him to play in the QF against France, despite DelPo’s firm stance that he would not be playing DC this year. It’s tough to imagine why DelPo would agree to play for the team, given the toxic atmosphere against him.
Pico has since gone on record to say that the team did not sing any songs taunting DelPo. It seems Pico was also angry that journalists would report on what happened inside the locker-room. It’s tough to know which version of events is true here.
While Argentina were slightly lucky to get past Germany so easily (given the less-than-ideal form and misfortunes of the German players), France is much more likely to be a trickier opponent. When Gasquet was asked about France’s upcoming tie against Argentina, the Frenchman said “There are two teams for Argentina: one with Del Potro and one without Del Potro.”
Anything short of a mea maxima culpa from Martin Jaite and possibly Nalby is probably not going to change DelPo’s mind. France look likely to play the Team Argentina without DelPo.
Also, if Jaite calls DelPo to ask him to play against France, might I suggest this song for DelPo to play as his response?
“Your bridges were burned / and now it’s your turn / To cry, cry me a river.”