davis cup

DC: Friends vs Friends

9/22/2011Rafaholics ™


Translated article via Sebastien Fest. google translation with some minor fixes

Friends vs. Friends: a Davis Cup Final special

MADRID, 21 Sept. (dpa) - Thousands of hours of play-station shared, a language in common, years of coexistence: the Davis Cup final that Spain and Argentina are to play in December will be a real clash of friends. For almost all of them are friends: Juan Martin Del Potro is perhaps the one who is not quite as close to the Spaniards, but he has a good relationship with them, while the Spaniard Rafael Nadal and the Argentine Juan Monaco are close friends.

The final on 2-4 December in a Spanish city yet to be decided will be a historic clash for the Argentinians, because Spain has won the Davis Cup on four previous occasions, while the South Americans feverishly envisage the possibility of attaining the one sporting achievement that has so far eluded them. World champions at football, Formula 1, basketball and boxing, Olympic gold in the marathon, winners of the British Open and the Augusta Masters at golf, the Davis Cup is the only thing the Argentinians have not won in the realm of the sports that most matter to them.

They were not able to win the Davis Cup in Cincinnati 1981 against the United States team of John McEnroe, Roscoe Tanner and Peter Fleming, nor in Moscow 2006 against Marat Safin's Russia, nor in Mar del Plata in 2008 in that well-remembered debacle against Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco's Spain.

It will also be special for Nadal, who has never come up against his South American friends in a Davis Cup tie. There are very few players on the tour that Nadal is closer to than Monaco and David Nalbandian. The six-times Roland Garros champion and 'Pico' Monaco form an almost unbeatable partnership at play-station, much to the misfortune of Andy Murray, who together with his Venezuelan friend and hitting partner Daniel Vallverdu, loses nine out of ten matches to the Hispano-Argentine pair.

Verdasco thinks it is a "plus" to play a final against friends. "It will also be a very nice final because of this fact, we know each other well," said the lefthander, who in 2008 won the final deciding point for his country in Mar del Plata

Nadal, who mixes mainly with Spaniards and Argentinians on the tour, has another friend in Nalbandian. He trains frequently with the Argentine, with whom he also shares a manager, former tennis player Carlos Costa. They are two talented players united by a common vision of tennis.

"I prefer to play Argentina, we have a lot of contact with them. It's a question of language, of customs," explained the ex world number one, who prepared for the recent US Open by practising with Nalbandian who has as his personal doctor the Spaniard Angel Ruiz Cotorro, the same one who treats Nadal and the majority of the Spaniards. While Monaco, for his part, spends several weeks a year in Madrid training with former Spanish player Jose Manuel 'Pepo' Clavet.

You just have to see them during tournaments to know that the Spaniards and Argentinians get on well together, Nadal, for example, uses a wide repertoire of Argentine slang, and, if you ask him to, he is capable of imitating the South Americans' accent.

Three years ago the Hispano-Argentine "friendship" was shaken by an attention catching comment from Del Potro: "We're going to pick Rafa's underpants out of his ass," said the then inexperienced Argentinian in September 2008. The sentence caused an uproar and more than a little controversy. Del Potro apologised personally to Nadal in Madrid the following month.
"This time I'll be careful what I say so we can keep moving forward," the Argentine promised on television moments after defeating Serb Novak Djokovic to reach the 2011 final. He said this precisely in front of the same television cameras before which he had let his tongue run away with him the previous time.

But the final will not only be special for the players of both teams : it will also thrill the hundreds of thousands of Argentinians who live in Spain. Many of them moved there during the very difficult 1970s, and others were compelled to go by the economic crises in 1989 and 2001. These Argentine residents in Spain could be a very important force in the final. If the match could be played in one of the great football 'temples' like the Camp Nou or Santiago Bernabeu, they would fill them, such is the interest that tennis and the Davis Cup generates in Argentinians.

One curious thing about the final is that both the captains will be Spaniards: Albert Costa was born in Lerida and Modesto 'Tito' Vazquez was born in Orense but emigrated soon afterwards to Argentina, the destination decades ago of hundreds of thousands of Spaniards.

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