Monday, November 24, 2008

Davis Cup - Part Dos

Well, Argentina really shit the bed on this one. They had everything going their way in the lead-up to the Davis Cup final against Spain this past weekend: two Top-20 players (including redhot Juan Martin del Potro), home advantage in the raucous indoor stadium in Mar del Plata AND the absence of the #1 player in the world (Rafael Nadal).

So how they managed to screw it up is beyond me.
As Argentines are prone to do, the players probably over-analyzed the situation and took too much solace in the fact that Nadal was a no-show.

David Nalbandian did his job on Friday, winning the first singles match, but then Del Potro choked in the second match, leaving the series tied 1-1 going into Saturday's doubles match.

Nalbandian and Agustin Calleri (who I've met; he's a tool) dropped the ball in a marathon doubles, and in my opinion, that sealed Argentina's fate. That left Jose Acasuso with the unenviable task of a must-win match on Sunday. I like Acasuso, I think he's a good technical player, but he doesn't seem to be mentally capable of finishing in big matches. He looks scared out there. (He also lost the deciding match in Argentina's 2006 Davis Cup final defeat to Russia. Ouch.)

Since Guillermo Vilas stopped playing in the 1980s, the top Argentine players have consistently failed at bringing home any of the major Grand Slam tournament trophies (with the exception of Gaston Gaudio at Roland-Garros in 2004, but he's since had a mental breakdown, and is not even ranked in the ATP Top 1000 right now) and as a result the people here have invested an emormous amount of energy supporting the increasingly competitive national squad. And they've rewarded them with some great performances in recent years.
But the fact that they blew it this year, at home, and with a stronger team, really makes it sting.
The mud-slinging has already begun in the local press. The coach is stepping down.
Who knows how this will play out.
I think it will be awhile before tennis fans in Argentina recover from this stunning defeat.
photo courtesy of Telam.

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