Today marked a very special day in the tennis world as Argentina celebrated the retirement of one of its best players with some of the best guests of honour that could be found: the best two players in the world, and one of his Davis Cup team mates.
It is always a sad day when a talented player retires, but David Nalbandian, along with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Juan Mónaco managed to turn this event into a party worthy of the talent of all present, and one that delighted all the fans present, as well as those watching at home.
“An incredible talent”
The praises to the tennis played by David Nalbandian came in steadily since he announced his retirement, last 1st October.
His friend Rafael Nadal was no exception to this flurry of tributes that fell on the new ex-player, and he said it again minutes before taking the court for Nalbandian’s final appearance on a tennis court: “To me, David has an incredible talent. The things he can do on court is amazing. He makes things look so easy!“
He talked at length about the purity of the Argentine’s strokes, how early he would take the ball and how he could just do anything on a tennis court.
Of course, his most celebrated shot was his amazing two-handed backhand, probably the best one I have ever seen.
When he was “on”, he could beat anyone, regardless of their ranking. The magic he could produce on a tennis court was catching his opponents off-guard and he could just do whatever he wanted with them. He has wins over the then nearly unbeatable Roger Federer to prove it, and he also logged big and important triumphs against Nadal, Andy Murray, Marat Safin, and Lleyton Hewitt, to name only a few.
Thus goes genius…
A genius on court he definitely was, but Nalbandian was also known for his great inconsistencies. One of the most talented players never to have won a Grand Slam, the man from Unquillo could alternate the jaw-droppingly good with the abysmally bad, sometimes in the same match.
His game, mostly based on aggressiveness, led him to sometimes incredibly high amounts of unforced errors.
Had he been more consistent, perhaps the greatness of his achievements would have been greater. Still, he has reached the semifinals of each of the Grand Slams, made one major final, and won a Masters Cup after an impressive 0-2 comeback.
He wanted a party, a party he had
All week long, when asked what kind of farewell day he wanted, David Nalbandian always repeated the same words: he wanted a party, he wanted to enjoy it and that the fans present would enjoy it, too.
This is exactly what he had, both Wednesday in Córdoba and today in Buenos Aires.
The fans enjoyed many great rallies, spectacular points, and the banter between the players and the crowd, not to mention the numerous marriage proposals that men and women alike fired the way of both players, to everyone’s hilarity and theirs alike.
The end of the match, today, was marked by a heartfelt hug between Nadal and Nalbandian, who then received a very special visit…
You can see this visit a little better here, with the priceless facial expressions of man who asked for a doctor:
And that was only the beginning.
He had a party the way he wanted, after giving everything he had, especially for his country, for so many years. He had the farewell he deserved.
For this, and for everything, I say: ¡Gracias, David! Te vamos a extrañar.