Davis Cup: Guillermo Coria and the chronicle of a disaster

The Davis cup re-enacted, as so many times in history, a nightmare. The passage of the Argentine team through Bologna, where the group stage was played of the Finals, can only be summed up with one word: disappointment. The goal was set in advance: qualify for the quarterfinals, in the defining instance that will take place from November 23 to 27 in Malaga, but the result was a failure.

Guillermo Coria as captain of the Argentine team

The set of William Coriawho assumed the captaincy in the March triumph against a diminished Czech Republic -the number one Jiri Vesely did not come- and in replacement of Gaston Gaudioarrived with the illusion intact but left with the pain of a sudden fall. Argentina lost all series in the zone: 1-2 against Sweden, 1-2 against local Italy and 0-3 against Croatia.

He was looking to be one of the first two in the group with a ticket to Malaga but finished last. He played nine games and only won two, two clashes by experienced doubles players Horace Zeballos (11th) and Maximo Gonzalez (51st). There are two main reasons that could explain the debacle, in addition to the weak level of the squad in general: the ill-advised decisions of Coria and the enigma around Diego Schwartzman (17th), the number one who left the team in the last two series.

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“The rival to beat is Sweden; we are happy to open with them, with the greatest respect”, slipped the captain, who was confident of winning the first series 3-0. To the surprise of many, he put Sebastián Báez (37th), with a great first half of the year but in full search of a recoveryto accompany Schwartzman on the singles. The 21-year-old had a worthy role and lost in the tie break of the third set against Elias Ymer and the image that Peque left later was frustrating: defeat 6-2 and 6-2 against Mikael Ymer and, according to his words, the pain of “a knockout blow”.

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First alarm: by present and conditions —it was played on the indoor fast court of the Unipol Arena— Coria could have put Francisco Cerúndolo (27th and rookie)a gunslinger with great performance on hard surface. Báez accumulated seven falls in a row and had the pressure to open a key series for the aspirations of Argentina. Schwartzman, with an extra burden whenever he plays the Cup, he transferred his irregular year to the field and he did not play again.

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Why didn’t Schwartzman play again in the 2022 Davis Cup?

Why wouldn’t it be number one and only top 20 in the two heaviest series? “What we talked about with Diego remains between the two of us,” Coria released, who simultaneously hinted that the decision to leave Peque was not his: “The decision was made together, with the coaching staff. We talked to the players and only then did we make a decision. Diego accepted her like a champion; he is a very positive leader.”

Your collaborators have participated Leonardo Mayer and Martin Garciaor it was Schwartzman himself through the “self-accusation” of the knockout, the decision was not made by Coria alone. Perhaps one of the potential reasons has been because, as captain and leader -he is also a member of the board of directors of the Argentine Tennis Association-, he intends to continue in the chair and it would be difficult for him to take out number onerepresented by a marketing agency led by Mariano Zabaleta, also vice president of the AAT.

The truth is that Schwartzman suffered the initial setback and was replaced in the first single by Cerúndolo, who had to face the two biggest challenges: played two good games against Jannik Sinner (11th) and Borna Coric (26th), the main arms of Italy and Croatia. “I don’t care if I play first or I’m out. I like to be. I played my two games well but they put two stones on me,” admitted the 86th player to wear the Argentine shirt in the Davis Cup. Báez, on the other hand, also completed his participation with two falls in good matches against Matteo Berrettini (15th) and Borna Gojo (164th). But their presence says a lot about the strategy: accumulated seven consecutive hits on the circuit and, in the fight to regain confidence, He was the Argentine with the highest participation with three singles.

Guillermo Coria, in the captain’s chair in Bologna. Image: Cosmos

“We put the team that we thought was better in each series. We were convinced and it didn’t work out for us. You have to get up. I’m beaten: with Monday’s newspaper it’s easy to comment. Now I’m going to bank all the criticism because we didn’t win and the people expected something else”, recognized Coria, whose continuity as captain – it is estimated – is not in danger. Agustín Calleri, the president of the AAT and friend of Coria, told this medium, at the beginning of his second term, the initial plan for Davis: “When we took office we decided that it was going to be two years for Gaudio and two years for Coria; it was planned like this. Guillermo is passionate about tennis.”

Now Argentina will have to wait until February 2023 to play the head-to-head Qualifiers against one of the teams eliminated in the group stage or one of the winners of the World Group I series. If they win, they will return to the group stage of the Finals; in case of losing will face an elimination round for permanence.

The surface, a stumbling block for the future

In August 2018, in the city of Orlando, it was decreed the historic change of format of the Davis Cup: in the general assembly the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Kosmos Group, chaired by the footballer Gerard Piqué, achieved the necessary support among the member associations.

Barely three months after the start of Calleri’s first cycle, Argentina leaned in favor of the format change, with Zabaleta as envoy to the assembly. The AAT provided a key vote because it has, in the ITF, a second-order qualified voteonly behind the Grand Slams federations —France, Australia, the United States and Great Britain— and Germany.

The profound mutation attracted strong income from the ITF, a hinge monetary contribution for the development of tennis in peripheral federationsbut Argentina was decimated in sporting terms: Beyond head-to-head series, like Qualifiers, must always face final instances on fast courts that go against their formative matrix on brick dust.

“We democratically consult all the players. The response was too broad for us to vote for the change. It was the only option; I don’t know if she is the best or the worst, “Zabaleta told this newspaper weeks ago, in retrospect. Calleri also gave his opinion on that position: “The Davis Cup had lost interest; it was no longer the same and we had to innovate. We are calm: the players decided it”. The results, for the moment, do not give satisfaction: as a historical power Argentina has not played the world semifinals since the 2016 edition, when it was consecrated for the only time under the leadership of former captain Daniel Orsanic.

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Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a freelance writer working on news website. He contributes to Our Blog and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. He loves running, trees and hanging out with her family.

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