Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Davis Cup: Argentina getting ready to face Australia

Why do we hate Lleyton HEWITT?

Despite having a number of things to talk about, the huge number of tennis followers in Argentina only talk about one thing: Lleyton HEWITT.

I would like to stop that "movement" against Australia's number one racquet for the time being and concentrate on the most important aspects of this long-awaited semifinal match.

The colosseum is set

The brand new Parque Roca Stadium has been inaugurated this week and will host its first ever Davis Cup tie.

With a capacity of 14.000 spectators and a very compact design, Argentina will have the best vocal support they ever had.

To add a stylish detail to the party we'll have in Buenos Aires despite the result, the Parque Roca Stadium seats will be covered in ALBICELESTE colours.














Gladiator David looking for a partner

It’s been a rough year for many of our top tennis players.

Playing on clay, Argentina will have to refuse the idea of using Roland Garros 2004 champion Gastón GAUDIO. One of the best exponents of the sport from our country and a master in clay, is not happy with his current level of performances. He is being too erratic and so team skipper Alberto MANCINI decided not to call him up to face the Aussies.

Guillermo CORIA, runner-up in that edition of the French Open after an epic match against GAUDIO is struggling like never before. After a record number of double-faults he is now having trouble to even win a first round match in a challenger tournament (like this week when he lost against Romanian Sabau (167th in the world ranking) at Szczecin, Poland.

Another fallen star now playing challengers is Guillermo CAÑAS. His ban for doping has been lift and after a 15-months absence he is back for good. He won the Belem, Brazil challenger in good fashion, climb back up to the 514th place in the ranking (after being erased from it) and he looked totally fit and in great form. Now he dreams of making an international comeback if Argentina makes it to the final match. MANCINI says he’ll consider calling him because he is one of our best players in hard or fast courts and in case we face Russia it’ll be in that kind of surface.

With that scenario David NALBANDIAN, who is also not enjoying his best season, looks like the most solid figure to use in a Davis Cup semifinal.

The Cordoba-born top-10 player will play two single matches and the doubles encounter. And who will be Argentina’s second single player it is a big mystery up to today.




The rest of the team is composed by Agustín CALLERI, Juan Ignacio CHELA and José ACASUSO, with the latter being the one who appears to have more chances of facing HEWITT on Friday.

And so now we’re back again to talk about the Adelaide blonde kid.

Lleyton HEWITT will be on the spot light and he’ll hear a thousand insults coming his way from the ardent crowd at Parque Roca. But he deserves that treatment (of course I’m against physical violence and crowd misbehaviour) because he likes to generate that.
How? Not only by shouting “COME ONNNNNNN” at his opponents’ face everytime he has the chance. But there is also an added condiment in his rivalry with Argentina.

When Argentina and Australia were both competing in the Under-16 Davis Cup (or a similar tournament in which players represent their countries), the Albiceleste (formed by youngsters David NALBANDIAN and Guillermo CORIA amongst others) surprisingly lost to Venezuela in the first round. That night after the match, NALBANDIAN and CORIA started to hear somebody shouting and they went to the balcony to check it out. It was HEWITT with a banner that read: “ARGENTINA playing for 9th-16th” and he was singing the famous “Don’t cry for me Argentina”.

Ever since that happened, there has been bad blood between HEWITT and all the Argentine players. The latest example of this came today at a press conference when David NALBANDIAN said: “Nobody is friends with HEWITT in the ATP circuit”.

Juan Ignacio CHELA went too far once when he spat towards Lleyton to add spice to a bad-tempered relationship.

And so it is no surprise that also the fans picked him as the main target to off-load their anger. Especially when HEWITT, surrounded all the time by 2 bodyguards, repeatedly mentions the fear he has when arriving to Argentina because he feels the country is unsafe, like if people here were monsters.

A little history lesson

Argentina has a unique chance to emulate their best result ever in the Davis Cup: reaching the final.
The only time Argentina managed to do that was in 1981 when the great Guillermo VILAS and his partner José Luis CLERC lost against the USA (McENROE-CONNORS) after defeating Great Britain in the semifinals.

However there are a couple of worrying memories for Argentina because we’ve lost twice against Australia in semis.

1977 (the year I was born!) Guillermo VILAS was at his best (winning 16 tournaments –including Roland Garros and the US Open and setting the record of 53-straight wins in clay-) but Australia was too much for Argentina and they won 3-2 in Buenos Aires to advance to the final and to eventually win the cup.

1977 - Semifinal – September 14th–16th
Australia 3 – 2 Argentina, Buenos Aires (clay)
G. VILAS (ARG) b. P. DENT (AUS) 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
J. ALEXANDER (AUS) a R. CANO (AUS) 6-4, 6-0, 6-0
T. DENT – J. ALEXANDER (AUS) b. G. VILAS – R. CANO (ARG) 6-2, 4-6, 9-7, 4-6, 6-2
T. DENT (AUS) b. R. CANO (ARG) 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
G. VILAS (ARG) b. J. ALEXANDER (AUS) 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2

In 1990, Pat CASH and the grass surface in Sydney were a mountain to climb for Martin JAITE and current captain Alberto MANCINI. After the doubles match ended in a 15-13 5th set, we’ve lost 5-0 and were out again.

1990 - Semifinal - September 21th-23th
Australia 5-0 Argentina, Sydney (grass)
P. CASH (AUS) b. A. MANCINI (ARG) 6-1, 6-1, 6-2
W. MASUR (AUS) b. M. JAITE (ARG) 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2
D. CAHILL- M. KRATZMANN (AUS) b. J. FRANA - C. MINIUSSI (ARG) 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 15-13
P. CASH (AUS) b. M. JAITE (ARG) 7-5, 6-2
W. MASUR (AUS) b. J. FRANA (ARG) 6-2, 6-2

Will it be third-time lucky for Argentina?

On Thursday with the order of play being drawn, we’ll start getting some answers to that question.

Till then….VAMOS ARGENTINA!!!!!!!

10 comments:

John said...

Seba,

Its pity that a match with a high level of intensity will not be shown live in Malaysia. Kindly please be our correspondent and update us on the latest news.

From my opinion I think on clay we can overcome Australia but there is one thing that worries me. I hope our players will focus on winning the match rather than losing control due to Leyton Hewitt antics.

Also I would like to express something to everyone in Buenos Aires reading this blog, kindly please give the Aussies a great welcome and hospitality. Lets prove to the world that we are not the monster and as much we are passionate about our team, we also have great respect for our opponents.

Anyway I have a question for you, in Argentina is tennis have always been developed on clay rather than any other surface?

John
Malaysia

Seba said...

It's a shame you won't get TV coverage in Malaysia. What a shame! Especially in your case, being so passionate about Argentina.

Make sure you log into: www.ole.com.ar where you'll have a game-by-game coverage in Spanish.

Also www.clarin.com will give you live scoring.

I'll do my best to comment live but that will depend on where will I be watching the games and if I have an internet access near.

Regarding what you say about not losing our head because of HEWITT, I agree with it. Let the fans do their game but don't let our players get into it.

As for clay courts...yes. Only starting in the 90's we are seeing more and more hard-courts being build.

There are only a handful of grass courts in the whole Buenos Aires. They are more expensive to mantain than clay or hard-courts.

And that's why the style of our players is always more suitable for clay.

alwin said...

Hi Seba,

Thank for the insight on the Davis Cup. I guess that's the main dish for the weekend in Argentina. So i guess Hewitt is a punk and lets hope they dont loose their focus on incidents like this.

Good Luck the the Racket Kings!!

Vamos,
Alwin
Malaysia

ArgToWin said...

Seba,

I am actually Asian Fan (Singapore).

I have been an argentine fan since 1990 when I watch Maradona and Co. during the 90 finals. It was amazing then, Argentina did not have the strongest team but it manage to be runners-up. That team has leadership (both on and off the pitch), plenty of determination and grit.

I have seen various argentine teams over the years and the 2006 team shows huge potentials. I hope they can be galvanise as a team, and we should be seeing great soccer from Argentina in the coming years.

Seba said...

The draw was made:

NALBANDIAN will face PHILIPPOUSIS to open up the match.

Then José ACASUSO will take on Lleyton HEWITT.

The doubles of course on Saturday and Sunday will see the order reversed as PHILIPPOUSIS will face ACASUSO followed by an exciting clash between NALBANDIAN and HEWITT (but I hope it's all done by then to avoid a risky match with the series 2-2).

Predictions anyone?

John said...

Seba,

I would like predict a 3-1 win for Argentina. I dont think Nalbandian would have problem seeing off Philippousis. But I'm not sure whether Acasuso can beat Hewitt. Assume if we loose that game, then we should beat the Aussie in the next two match. What do you think about that?

John
Malaysia

Seba said...

I'm sorry but the site is taking AGES to update.

I've started a new entry about the Davis Cup before the first match started and it's yet to appear.

Just for anyone who read this, NALBANDIAN is up 2 sets to 0.

Now it's 3-2 in the third set and PHILIPPOUSIS to serve.

Seba said...

First point for Argentina!

NALBANDIAN defeated PHILIPPOUSIS in straight sets: 64 63 63.

ACASUSO vs. HEWITT in about 30 minutes and THAT's the match I'm desperate to watch!

Seba said...

HEWITT won first set 6-1.

ACASUSO levelled with a 6-4 win in the second set.

Now HEWITT is leading 4-2 and ACASUSO is 30-15 with his serve.

Seba said...

All levelled again!

5th set is about to begin, with ACASUSO serving.