By Ignacio Bregliano
The invitation that Juan Martín Del Potro has at his disposal to play the Argentina Open in February at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, could clearly mean a turning point in the future of tennis for the upcoming 2022. From there and if the Torre de Tandil returns to the courts, the analysis will take a course or else it will remain in the usual day-to-day, which has to Diego Schwartzman already rosarina Nadia Podoroska as the maximum national rackets and the only ostensible standard bearers for the attempt of something different in the next year.
After an irregular 2021, which had the withdrawal of the “Salad Bowl” Leo Mayer; the change of captain of the team Davis Cup; the classification of the Argentina to try to fight for the big thing in the maximum world tournament and the recognition for the Peque with the Gold Olympia because of what was done in 2020 and not because of this year that ends, the light of hope that opens if Delpo manages to return in good shape is very attractive. Question that invites enthusiasm and reflection.
Del Potro, inactive since July 2019 and after having undergone four operations on his right knee, is today a lighthouse in the middle of the darkness of an imposing sea, it is an oasis in the desert. Schwartzman (He finished the year in the 13th ladder) he cannot by himself and those who are behind him are very far in the world ranking and have taken different directions for their career, far from the important points for the ranking and also very far from the level required to play the big competitions.
How not to get excited if it is that Martin Jaite, one of the directors of the Argentina Open, managed to use that “wild car” reserved for the Tandilense. The former world number 3 and champion with Argentina of the Davis Cup in 2016, is capable of clearly awakening something different. Beyond that later it will be seen in what conditions he returns to the fields, the Tower invites from the moment we are going to dream. And it will be nice to see him compete on the clay of Palermo, where the Peque will have to revalidate his only joy in 2021 and where the Austrian Dominic Thiem will also be a nice measure (15º).
The tournament Buenos Aires It is still an ATP 250 but the thing is to see Delpo again hitting the ball and competing. This would even open a nice debate for the new captain of the Davis, Guillermo Coria, facing the series with Czech Republic which will be played shortly, in March.
Although the record favors the Europeans, with five wins in six games, Argentina starts as a favorite in the series that will be played since Jiri Vesely, number 83 in the world, is the only Czech who is within the Top 100.
After suffering to bend the weak Belarus, nothing is guaranteed in the Davis. Let us remember that the unthinkable initial defeat of Peque, which was later reversed, had put the classification in doubt and also woke up, with the consummate victory, a tremendous relief for Schwartzman, who had felt very attacked in those days.
“They have come to write me not to play tennis anymore and never to return to Argentina again. That is the bad thing about social networks. Malicious criticism hurts a lot”, Little confessed back in September, although later he noticed that “My level at Davis, did not reach its ceiling.”
The year of the Peque was not all good. Rather, it had quite a few ups and downs and the clear example of that was perhaps the one that occurred a few days ago in the delivery of the Olympia. The first racket in the country was awarded for what was done in 2020 but not for what happened this season. Although it was logically in the tennis list, the Silver award was in the hands of Horacio Zeballos.
Some data to take dimension of what happened with Schwartzman. Although, as we mentioned, he is the main tennis player in the country and the best South American, his unstable ranking during the year shows what his season was: he finished thirteen but could never get close to the top ten, even at one point in the year (last week October) fell behind the Swiss Roger Federer, who by then had been inactive for quite some time.
He only won one contest, the one mentioned in Buenos Aires. And then he was a finalist in Antwerp, where he lost to the italian Jannik Sinner. It was difficult for him to overcome the quarterfinal series, which was also evidenced in the Olympic Games, whose farewell to the highest sporting event was with an opaque performance and with complaints to the authorities regarding the times (no, without reason) in which the matches were played.
In Australia, the first Grand Slam of the year, he couldn’t beat the Russian Aslán Karátsev (114 in the world at the time) and was harshly eliminated by a resounding 6-3 triple. A player from qualifying fired him, a stone that he was also going to stumble over in the third round of the tournament. US Open. In Roland Garros his illusion met Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. Already Wimbledon He arrived with the best ranking of the year (11th) but lost in the third round.
Even so, the Peque delivered some sparks of his talent and also presented battle in many of the encounters in which it was evidenced that his main enemy was always his own irregularity.
On the other side of the analysis of The Gioconda For this 2021 that closes, there is the enormous number of victories that Argentine tennis reaped in the Challengers (tournament of very low value). Brick dust suits La Legión and was demonstrated with the twenty titles obtained throughout 2021. This marked a historical record and was only equaled by Creole tennis itself in 2007 and 2016 and by France in 2005. The standard bearer was Sebastián Baéz, who won 6 competitions.
Is it enough to play on brick dust most of the year? For more trophies and ranking positions that are achieved (Juan Manuel Cerúndolo was the fastest growing), most tournaments are not played on this surface. A clear sign of an incorrect decision is the poor results achieved when ours move away from the clay. Achieving seven tennis players among the 100 best in the world is not for all countries. But the imbalance occurs when there is only one lead guitar and the rest only plays in tune but does not stand out.
Management Calleri-Zabaleta in front of the Argentine Tennis Association decided that one of his own, the Magician Coria, He is the replacement for Gastón Gaudio, who was in charge of the representative albiceleste in Davis Cup for three years. But it will not only depend on Guillermo’s good eye but also on someone who finally manages to accompany the Peque to take the country again to fight for the Salad Bowl.
The same thing that happens on the circuit: it is about reaching the second week of the big tournaments. It is about putting, from time to time, a strong blow with some resounding victory and not that everything falls solely on Schwartzman. So that one of the main sports in Argentina stops being like Luis Sandrini, who sometimes made you laugh and other times, cry.
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Without Del Potro but with Diego Schwartzman, Argentine tennis in 2021 was like Luis Sandrini