“It’s not easy. It’s not one of the nicest days of my career, of my path, but it’s my turn today. When I see the images and the tournaments, it’s a weird sensation, to feel like being there, competing, coming back to play. But my shoulder isn’t helping me to come back and train with the exigencies that the tour require.
So today is a difficult one, the announcement of my retirement from the sport that gave me so many things, that gave me everything, and to which I am immensely thankful.”
This is how, in La Rural (Buenos Aires), where he will play an exhibition against Rafael Nadal on 23 November, David Nalbandian announced his retirement from professional tennis.
It is a very sad day for Argentinian tennis, as Nalbandian was the last of La Legión still in activity, and the one who, in the recent years, has helped bring the country very close to a first Davis Cup title, with three participations in the final during his playing time.
Unfortunately, the injuries ended up having the better of him, and his shoulder doesn’t permit him to compete the way he should.
Regrets? He has… one
As he turned the page over his career, which included the 2002 Wimbledon final, the Masters Cup in 2005 (and an amazing win over Roger Federer), two Masters 1000 shields (Madrid and Paris back-to-back in 2007), and a career high of n°3 in the world, David Nalbandian only expressed one professional regret:
“What hurts me the most is not to have been able to win the Davis Cup with Argentina.”
For this is, a lot, what David Nalbandian will be remembered for: his dedication to the Davis Cup, the way he gave everything he had, every time he had the celeste y blanco on. Perhaps he did not always do it the right way, but he wanted this Cup very badly and he is, without the shadow of a doubt, the most dedicated Davis Cup player that Argentina has ever had.
Overall, between 2002 and this year’s quarter-finals, he has played all 26 ties for which he has been named on the Argentine team, and has cumulated a 23-6 record in singles, and a 16-5 record in doubles, many of which memorable matches.
The most talented to never have won a Grand Slam
Another thing for which David Nalbandian will be remembered is likely his immense talent, but the fact that despite his incredible, natural abilities, he was never able to win a Grand Slam tournament.
He reached only one final, in Wimbledon 2002, where he lost to Lleyton Hewitt, and a bad call robbed him of a second chance in the U.S. Open semifinals of 2003.
Nevertheless, his game makes him the most talented player to never win a Grand Slam. In my opinion, it is a pity.
Opinion: difficult to see a favourite go
For my part, I have to say that if today’s announcement was only a half surprise (after all, we had been told the press conference was to announce his return in the first place), it is nevertheless difficult, as David Nalbandian has been a personal favourite for many years.
Furthermore, it is thanks to him that I discovered, and fell for, Argentinian tennis, back in 1999.
With his game, his talent, and most of all, his amazing backhand, he remains a player I very much enjoyed to watch, despite his lack of consistency.
From his career, I will remember all the Davis Cup moments, the most recent memorable ones, for me, being his doubles wins in the 2011 final and in this year’s quarter-finals.
I will also keep in mind his incredible end of 2007, when he beat Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer back-to-back to win Madrid then, two weeks later, when he defeated Federer and Nadal to win in Paris.
Finally, his Masters Cup win in 2005, when he came back from 0-2 to defeat Roger Federer, then nearly unbeatable, in five sets.
Thank you for all those memories, Rey David, and good luck in what’s to come!