Monday, November 24, 2008

Prima Donna?

Yes, the Davis Cup postmortem for Argentina is juicy. Especially as it relates to David Nalbandian. Bodo writes:

Okay, Nalbandian is hurting today; there's no good reason to pile on any more than necessary. And let's remember that he played a terrific first match. But the backstory on Nalbandian here isn't real pretty. Numerous reports (including this one from our own correspondent in Mar del Plata) suggested that leading up to and during the tie, Nalbandian behaved less like a popular and inspirational captain (say, an Andy Roddick) than a prima donna who sometimes appeared to see this tie more as the vehicle for his personal glory and as a line-item in his legacy. If you're looking for a scapegoat, you've come to the right place.

True to form, Pete contradicts himself and, at his other gig, piles on anyway:

It was supposed to have been a coronation. Instead, as everyone who watched the Davis Cup final this weekend saw, it became a demolition. Those awful crashing and splintering sounds you heard? They were the sounds of David Nalbandian's legacy in Argentine tennis crashing all around him.


No matter how you cut it, inadequate leadership on the Argentina squad helped Spain forge this historic upset. There's only one person to blame for that -- David Nalbandian. It was his show all the way, although "debacle" might be the better noun.

Bowers concurs:

[W]hen the dust settles on this final, the story will be more a case of internecine warfare in an Argentina camp that had everything going for it, but ultimately succumbed to the ego trip of one man.

That man is David Nalbandian. For so long Argentina's talisman, he has devoted himself almost exclusively - and some would say excessively - to winning the Davis Cup, recognizing that this is the achievement that will cut most ice with his compatriots. But his interpretation of his role as team leader has gone badly wrong just at the time when his powers have begun to wane, and his abrasive personality unleashed a civil war within his team that ultimately undid a challenge supported so enthusiastically by his entire country.

Vainglory is killer.

Reportedly, Nalbandian didn't want Guillermo Cañas on the team and railed against Juan Martín del Potro for playing the Masters Cup instead of staying home and preparing for the Davis Cup. Politics and money ruled the day.

Nalbandian denies it all. He skipped the team presser yesterday, took a $5,000 fine, but made up for it today. Via BBC Sport:

David Nalbandian has denied claims that he rowed with team-mates as Argentina lost to Spain in the Davis Cup final.

He and Agustin Calleri lost the crucial doubles tie on Saturday and there were reports that the pair later squared up in the changing room.

"It really hurts the players when people say things that aren't true," Nalbandian, 26, told a news conference on Monday.

"I heard it throughout the media. Nobody saw anything. Nobody was in the locker room. Nobody knows what happened, and that's what bothers me."

"That without knowing what happened from the inside, or from outside, wherever it was, and to do harm to all involved.

"And afterwards we have to definitively come out and defend ourselves."

"It bothers me that people have questioned whether I'm continuing with the Davis Cup or not," he said.

"For me, representing my country is really an honour. I'm going to continue - like I've done until this point - defending Argentina's flag the best way possible."

"Understand the anguish and unease right now. Things went badly, but the terrible weekend is over."

"We made it to two finals in three years," he said. "Why aren't we going to continue having the possibility of reaching our goal?"

Captain Alberto Mancini has stepped down. None of the pundits said much about him at all. Seems to me the team captain is responsible for team cohesion. Or lack thereof. But what do I know?

Nalbandian and Calleri attended the Davis Cup dinner celebration, which you can see here.

Prima donna?

You be the judge.


bennettsocal said...

Nice digs, Craig! But to the subject. I don't think all the blame should fall on David's shoulders. The Captain Mancini deserves a lot of it as well...and let's thrown in the Argentine Tennis Federation too for good measure.

oddman said...

Was away and just catching up on all the DC news - I'd agree not all the blame should fall on David's shoulders either, but he certainly seemed to be orchestrating all kinds of moves prior to the tie. My comment to helen w earlier was that Spain was and is a TEAM - a very cohesive unit, supporting each other. Not unlike the US. They stepped up big-time when they lost their 'star' player. DC seems to be a totally different animal than regular tennis.
I get the feeling the Argies had a lot of infighting going on, despite denials by Nalbandian and Mancini.
Yay for Spain, yay for Feli, and Fernando, great job by all!

MMT said...

I'm sorry, but I find all this discussion about Nalbandian to be utter non-sense. All he did this weekend was win his singles rubber in straight sets. What did his teammates do? Lose, lose and lose. If you ask me, each of them should send him a gift basket this Christmas for taking all the attention off of their failures, and placing it on him. I mean, am

I losing my mind here, or did both del Potro and Acasuso lose their rubbers? What in the world does that have to do with Nalbandian?

Pamela said...

(sigh) I knew it was coming, another chance to say what most of us already know: Bodo is an idiot!

Granted, David was the "leader" of this team and we really don't know what went on inside the locker rooms or which rumors are true, if any - but his article sounds like a personal hit job of Nalbandian. I wish they'd stop letting hacks put out any drivel they can think of citing it as unbiased journalism.

Anyway, good job to Spain for managing the upset. Fantastic year for them.