Exclusive interview with David Nalbandian.
The Argentine, who feels “ashamed” after being defaulted from the Queen’s Club final, has told The Tennis Space that the support from Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Marin Cilic and others in the locker-room has “cheered me up – their support meant a lot because it was given in a moment that was really hard for me”. Nalbandian is under police investigation for kicking an advertising hoarding, which splintered and cut an line-judge’s leg. He said that the British public have given him “support and encouragement” ahead of his first-round match at Wimbledon against Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic: “I thank them for their encouraging words.”
Nalbandian also reflected on the 10-year anniversary of his appearance in a Wimbledon final, when he was the runner-up to Lleyton Hewitt. Nalbandian said that, if he had the chance to play the match again, he would “do everything differently”.
It is now 10 years since you played in the Wimbledon final against Lleyton Hewitt – what are your memories of that day?
“I have lots of good memories of that day. It was my first grand slam final and I felt great about it.”
After playing in a Wimbledon final, have you always had greater affection for this tournament than for others?
“Yes. As a matter of fact, that one was the only grand slam final I’ve ever reached. That’s why I think Wimby has been so important to me.”
In the 10 years since that day, have you ever watched a video of the match?
“I never watched the whole match, I did watch some parts of it.”
How have you changed as a player and as a person in the last 10 years?
“Of course, I have changed, I’m a different person for sure. To start, I’m 30 years old so I’m much older, haha! One changes a lot in ten years as a person and as a player.”
If you could play that match again, would you do anything differently?
“I made lots of errors in that match. I played against Lleyton, who was ranked number one back then. So in order to win that match, I would have to do everything differently.”
Why do you think your game adapts so well to grass?
“That’s because when I was a kid I learnt to play on fast surfaces, and my game has many resources that help me to adapt to the grass very well.”
Have you had a chance to reflect on events at Queen’s Club last Sunday? What are your thoughts now on the incident?
“Of course I have. I feel ashamed and sorry for my unfortunate and regrettable reaction. I never intended to hurt him. I don’t have any more to say than sorry.”
Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and others have given you support – and Marin Cilic has said that the police should not be involved. Has that been good to hear that you’ve had great support from the fellow players in the locker-room?
“Obviously their support meant a lot to me because it was given in a moment that was really hard for me. Their support really cheered me up and helps me demonstrate that my action had no intention to harm the line umpire.”
Have you had any messages or comments from the public? If so, what have they been?
“Yes I have. Many people I have come across with had supporting words to me. I really thank all of them.”
Have your preparations for Wimbledon been affected by the incident? Have you found it difficult to concentrate on your practice?
“Not at all. I have been training during the whole week. I also played at Stoke Park last week and the crowd down there received me very well.”
What sort of reaction do you think you will have from the crowd when you play your first-round match against Janko Tipsarevic?
“So far, the public has been very nice to me as I told you before. I have been receiving support and encouraging words from them. So once again, I thank them a lot.”