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!!!!!!!