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November 19th, 2013
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Tennis News and Gossip
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I’m guessing most people on my flist aren’t that interested in tennis, so I haven’t bothered explaining, just reporting. If you are, or might be, interested and want more background, feel absolutely free to ask!

So Rafa Nadal arrived in Argentina yesterday evening on an exhibition tour, tied in with the retirement of David Nalbandian. My Twitter timeline - which is 20% Argentine journalists and 70% Delpo fans from all round the world - predictably exploded. Most of the information below is from those tweets and various others where I followed up conversations.



At his press conference soon after arriving, Nadal was asked what he thought of the prospects of Argentina winning the Davis Cup. He replied that Argentina will win when they can manage to get all their best players playing together. Ouch.

He was also asked what the people of Spain think about him making a tour in South America. He said they've got more important things to worry about. He’s right, it was a stupid question.

And the best question: someone asked Rafa which was his toughest opponent - Djokovic, Del Potro, Federer, Murray or his own underwear? He replied that it must be his underwear because he never seems to beat it.

Nadal is best mates with Pico Mónaco, and they will be going to see a football match together next Sunday - Boca Juniors, who are Delpo’s favourite team. Rafa and Pico are actually Estudiantes fans, but they’re not playing till the Monday, after Rafa’s gone back to Spain. Delpo presumably won't be there - he was last heard of holidaying in Miami and will presumably be on his way to Barbados by then. As he's just sent quite the stroppy letter to the Argentine Davis Cup leadership about the way they run things I imagine he's safer out of Buenos Aires at the moment, but I did have hopes for him meeting up with his good friend Novak Djokovic during his visit (Novak presumably arrives in Chile today, and he will give a press conference in Argentina on Thursday).

Later in the evening, Nadal and Nalbandian appeared on "Su", a popular Argentine chatshow hosted by Susana Gimenez. (You know you're a true Delpo fan when even Nalbandian on Su is of infinitely more interest than Andy Murray on Jonathon Ross). I haven't watched it because my spoken/heard Spanish isn't up to it, but I can generally read the tweets and so far the following gems have come up:

Susana is apparently notorious for not reading up on guests beforehand, and gave every impression of knowing nothing at all about Nadal and little more about Nalbandian. This strikes me as strange, because she's interviewed Delpo on a number of occasions and was a personal friend of his at one point. Perhaps it's just her thing, her persona for interviews, as a way of asking the questions the viewer wants asked?

It's reported that Su thought that Federer was German (he's actually Swiss, from the German-speaking area) and that Novak Djokovic was Russian. Well, I suppose Serbian IS written in Cyrillic...

At one point Su mentioned that Boris Becker is known as a womaniser, and Nalbandian asked if she knew that from her own experience. (She is reputed to be a woman of considerable experience).

Rafa was apparently asked throughout the interview if he would act out his pre-serve routine (that would be the one where he pats his ears, pats his headband in three or four places, and picks at his underwear fore and aft as though it's stuck up his crack). He eventually did and it's here at 50s.

It’s reported that Argentines were tweeting during the show that they were impressed with Rafa's humbleness and respect, and someone suggested that this is because it's such a contrast with "the normal bragging" in the country. Perhaps this is why so many of them disrespect Delpo? They think because he is normally determinedly calm and polite he's not man enough to be a proper Argentine?

In other tennis news, Novak Djokovic missed seeing his team-mates play the doubles match in the Davis Cup on Saturday because he was almost five hours in doping control. The word from his PR man is that in order to give valid samples, Djokovic had to take food and liquid, and he was made to eat and drink things he doesn’t normally eat and drink. Novak is gluten-intolerant and his diet is quite restricted, but it’s pretty much just a subset of “perfectly normal”, and I really don’t see why he couldn’t have been allowed to eat and drink in accordance with his regular diet. It’s difficult not to see this as some kind of revenge for his recent polemic (re Troicki) on the way anti-doping is run in tennis. I think this may be old news, but it new to me and it's seriously worrying. It's simply not true that "the innocent have nothing to fear".

The next event of interest will be David Nalbandian's press conference this evening. He will surely be asked what he thinks of Delpo's letter giving his reasons for refusing to play Davis Cup first round. I'm not convinced Nalbandian has any interest in being politely diplomatic and complimentary (as Delpo was when he was asked to comment on Nalbandian's retirement announcement), so that could be interesting.





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[User Picture]
From:halotolerant
Date:November 19th, 2013 01:46 pm (UTC)
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Ooooooooh, interesting stuff! I hadn't heard about any of this (other than Nalby's retirement, of course)

Thoughts:
-IMHO, touring South America all last winter was what exhausted Roger Federer, I hope Rafa isn't doing too much
- I don't know how Delpo and Monaco get on, good or bad? Delpo and Nalby not getting on is legendary and seems to go back years (according to my beloved 2008 Davis Cup annual - slashiest. photos. of spaniards. evar - this has something to do with the age gap/Nalby being jealous?) But then Nalby notoriously quite a handful with everyone.
- Oh god, Rafa's routine. This is just me being an armchair analyst, but to me it looks like nothing as much as a serious OCD compulsive ritual. The way he does it more, and with more extra bits, when he's stressed, reinforces this to me. So I find it pretty tough to watch and as much as I think it looks bad, it also annoys me when people laugh about it because frankly to me it looks like a problem...
- The doubles/doping control thing is fascinating. Is that why he didn't *play*, I wonder??? (a lot of people thought it would make sense to field him in the doubles) There's some kind of power struggle or something going on with tennis doping just now, I have a strong feeling. I hope and would like to believe that none of them are actually purposefully doing anything illegal, but with all these comments and court cases and peculiarly high profile tests (Novak during Davis Cup, Murray on his OBE day) there seems a sense that someone is trying to tell somebody something. Who and what I don't know...
- Davis Cup and the ATP need to get their act together and work out a schedule that makes sense for the players. Because it's currently pretty sub-optimal. At least they get some ranking points for it now.

Thanks for all the gossip! *g*
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From:dorsetgirl
Date:November 19th, 2013 03:02 pm (UTC)
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touring South America all last winter was what exhausted Roger Federer, I hope Rafa isn't doing too much

He’s just played an exhibition on Necker, and he’s in Argentina for one week only afaik then he goes back to Spain (no idea what he's doing after that). He has said that he’ll be spending time with friends, and he also said last week that playing exhibitions gives them a chance to go places they would never normally be able to go (lol, because they can’t afford it?) and it’s a chance to play without pressure and stress. Also, I saw an interview somewhere this morning where he said this tour would refresh him for the coming season. Delpo says something similar about going home to Tandil in between tournaments, which lots of his fans bitch about and say he shouldn’t do. He says he gains strength from being at home.

I don't know how Delpo and Monaco get on, good or bad?

Delpo and Monaco used to be good, as far as I can tell. Mónaco has been quoted (about 5-6 years ago) as saying he loves Delpo like a brother. More recently, I think matters can’t have been helped by (a) Delpo being more successful than Mónaco, (b) Mónaco being serious best mates with someone more successful than Delpo and (c) Mónaco having to carry all the weight of the Davis Cup while Nalbandian was out injured and Delpo was refusing to play for the whole of 2013 to concentrate on his individual career. But I haven’t heard anything specific about them not getting on.

Delpo and Nalby not getting on is legendary ... age gap/Nalby being jealous?

I haven’t read too much about it, but yes, I was aware of the bad blood there and had come to the conclusion it was largely a matter of old bull / young bull.

2008 Davis Cup annual - slashiest. photos. of spaniards. Evar

Ooh, links, scans? Or even crappy badly-focussed photos of photos?

Rafa's routine ... serious OCD compulsive ritual.

Yes, that was exactly my thought when I first read about it and went looking. But he does seem genuinely able to laugh about it, which is something. I think perhaps it started as a coping mechanism, what with the pressure and fame at such an early age, and it’s now been engrained for years. My guess is that if it’s remained the same (with optional extras under stress) for a number of years, then it’s not too much of a problem. But of course I have no idea whether it has remained the same.

doubles/doping ... Is that why [Novak] didn't *play*, I wonder??? (a lot of people thought it would make sense to field him in the doubles)

I saw a lot of comments along those lines, but presumably they’re not allowed to actually prevent someone playing a match in order to test them? I did read one comment to the effect that he wasn’t allowed to play doubles because he was in the singles, but presumably that can’t be true? I don’t know anything about the Davis Cup and am happy to keep it that way - I honestly can’t be doing with team sports in any way - but the whole doping thing obviously is a worry.

You might be right about the power struggle thing. As soon as I saw Murray’s tweet on his OBE day I assumed that was about making it clear to the world that the UK is on top of things in these matters. I worry about Djokovic, because I hope and believe he’s clean, and he is obviously totally confident that Troicki is clean, and he’s used his position at the top of the tree to try to do something about increasing the players’ voice in the ATP and in doping control. I just fear that by doing so he’s put himself on someone’s radar ("he must be doping else why would he complain about testing?"), which coupled with the report I linked in my post could be very dangerous for him.

I don’t understand why the Davis Cup has to be every single year, when things like the Olympics and the football World Cup are every four years. But the management seem to think that annual competition is non-negotiable.
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From:halotolerant
Date:November 21st, 2013 05:59 pm (UTC)
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Ferrer has tweeted from Macchu Picchu - is he in S. America too just in case Rafa gets lost or lonely? *g*

Awwwww, Delpo wanting to be at home *pets him* That is so typically sweet. Surely nice boys don't always have to finish last? (and/or, frustratingly just beaten in the semis?)

What you say about Delpo and Monaco makes sense. Apart from anything else, I get the impression they're both too nice to be dickheads about each other, even if they're not BFFs or have not seen eye to eye in the past. Incidentally, something about Monaco always reminds me of Paddington Bear... /random

Ooh, links, scans? Or even crappy badly-focussed photos of photos?
I have some video! http://youtu.be/qkKvLaU2cns - The 2008 Davis Cup Final Doubles. The best bit is the last 2 mins, specifically Lopez and Verdasco's, um, is hug the right word? *g* There are lots of picspams linked from the Crack Van tennis overview post here: http://crack-van.livejournal.com/5369222.html Davis Cup is basically played in a draw system and each round 5 matches (rubbers) are played, 2 singles, then a doubles then 2 more singles, usually with the match-ups of the first two singles reversed. The Davis Cup annual is a gorgeous thing (the 2008 one is 1 penny plus postage on amazon, last time I checked: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Davis-Cup-2008-Year-Tennis/dp/0789318512/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385056174&sr=8-1&keywords=2008+davis+cup) describing all the players and the matches.

The 2008 edition can literally be summarised as 'Once upon a time Spain went to play a final in Argentina. Everyone thought they would lose because Rafa was ill. But the Spanish players loved each other! Especially Lopez and Verdasco! And the Argentinian players argued! So the team with love won! Pictures!' Yeah, um, basically Davis Cup is an old, old competition established in the 1800s for USA vs GB, rolled out now to the whole world via the ITF (NOT the ATP, which is why the two programmes clash - the ITF do Grand Slams, Davis Cup and Olympics, the ATP do everything else. Yes it makes no sense.) BUT the *point* of Davis Cup is to allow tennis players to hug each other more... *g*

comment to the effect that he wasn’t allowed to play doubles because he was in the singles
Technically you should field a 4 man team, but you can play them however you like and Berdych and Stepanek played all the Czech matches as they always do, and Rosol and that other guy are just there as tick-boxes and presumably just in case of injury. Murray played doubles and singles vs Croatia.

There's talk of making the Davis Cup more like the Fifa World Cup (every 4 years, played over the space of shorter time) and I think that would be much more exciting and considerably easier to follow. You have to be an investigative journalist to be a tennis fan if you want to follow half the goings on!

I think Djokovic has a point but I also think Troicki was very naive, and I understand why some other top players (who are the ones fielding these questions day in and day out) wish he hadn't made this a talking point for the sport again. Cilic also. People are always going to mutter and sling dirt, but the only player so far who's had to battle repeated accusations is Nadal. This seems to be because (a) he's muscular (b) he's Spanish [and there is history of dodgy doctors in Spain, not least because doping in sport wasn't actually illegal there till a few years ago] (c) some people really dislike him for some reason (and/or, of course, some better, actually logical reason, but I've not heard one yet)
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From:krisherdown
Date:November 22nd, 2013 11:54 pm (UTC)
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Pico and Delpo grew up together so there will always be a brotherly vibe with them. Pico is not a player I've seen ever "rock the boat" so has stayed out of the Delpo and Nalby dramas. I imagine he's likely still friends with Delpo but Rafa is still the best bud. Pico is a good player but he's a follower not a leader.

Here are two things you need to know about Viktor Troicki that is very important to this matter: he is over dramatic and always thinks he's right. I do believe his story and, more significantly, I believe he believes he's still correct. It's the second part that's important to consider when it comes to Novak. There is clearly questionable stuff that's happened but the fact is that Viktor heard what he wanted to hear that fateful day and that, combined with a dumbass of a coach in Jack Reader, led to this.
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From:dorsetgirl
Date:November 26th, 2013 06:45 pm (UTC)
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Viktor Troicki ... is over dramatic and always thinks he's right

That's useful to know, thanks! You may know that I've only been back as a tennis fan since Wimbledon this year, and I'd never even heard of Viktor until his sentence was pronounced.

...a dumbass of a coach

I don't really know the full parameters of a coach's job, but I was surprised at the way he seemed not to have taken charge at the time.

I think it was really sweet and kind of Novak to have taken Viktor along on the South America trip, but I imagine there are plenty of people happy to label it "defiance".

[User Picture]
From:krisherdown
Date:November 26th, 2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
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Evidence of prior Viktor "overdramatic" moments:
Background on first video: Viktor is a hero in Serbia because he won the deciding 5th match in the Davis Cup final in 2010. Like Novak and Janko, he took that momentum and had him on the edge of the Top 10.

If Viktor had won this match, he would have actually been in the Top 10. You see from the score he already blew a big lead and he went into a tailspin after this point transpired. He actually goes off on the kid after this but I can't find video (just for that, he deserved to lose).




The fact the second video made his opponent, Ernests Gulbis of all people, criticize Viktor pretty much says it all.



You'd think the way some fans are reacting to Novak supporting Viktor that he's the only top player to ever support a fellow tennis player for a drug-test-related matter. The Nadal fans in particular are hypocrites - or choose to conveniently forget how strongly he supported Gasquet back in 2009.
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