The hero’s farewell, at home: Federico Delbonis played his last match at the Argentina Open | The Davis Cup champion fell in doubles along with his friend Facundo Bagnis

Federico Delbonis had his last dance. It was not with an ideal result, of course, but ultimately it is the least interesting. After the match he entered the press room of the renovated Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club, with a smile, and said, laughing: “I don’t want to talk about the match.”

The chosen one of destiny, in fact, played his last match after 16 years as a professional tennis player. He did it together with his friend Facundo Bagnis, in stadium 2 of the complex where the Argentina Open is played, the fifth oldest ATP level competition on the planet – it was born in 1893 as the Río de la Plata Championship and is now in its 24th year. consecutive edition-. He fell 6-2 and 6-2 against the Spaniards Roberto Carballés Baena and Jaume Munar, although it matters little for what he represents in the history of Argentine tennis.

Delbonis’ retirement is not minor news. He is the chosen one, the man who engraved his name forever, the player who won the match that will be remembered throughout the years, the match that gave Argentina the only Davis Cup of all time.

“This is what I wanted. Tennis players always have a circle, we are a little selfish in a good way, because we always want what is good for us. Today I feel like I do the same: I reached a point where “I didn’t train myself the way I had to train myself to reverse the situation, due to my daily pain. I made a decision that was totally healthy. I no longer have the physical tools to carry this out for a calendar year,” said the 33-year-old left-hander, who has problems with his hip for several months.

And he clarified, to separate his personal career from what he achieved in the historic final in Croatia in 2016: “I separate my career into two parts: the individual and the collective. I cannot stay with just one thing. In my personal career I have several moments and in the group, without a doubt, it is not necessary to mention the moment that I choose: thank God I was part of that team.

The man from Azul entered the golden history of Argentine tennis as a key member of the world champion quartet in the 2016 edition of the Davis Cup, completed by Juan Martín Del Potro, Leonardo Mayer and Guido Pella, with Daniel Orsanic as captain.

World number 33 in 2016 and winner of two ATP singles titles – San Pablo 2014 and Marrakech 2016 -, Delbonis was the last of the four protagonists of the final against Croatia, at the Arena Zagreb, which was still active – although Del Potro did not announce a formal retirement, he has not played since 2022, precisely in his “farewell” in Buenos Aires before his own friend Delbonis.

The left-hander won, in June of last year, the last title of his career: it was at the Cali Challenger, in Colombia, after beating his compatriot Guido Andreozzi in three sets in the final. At that time he was already suffering from hip pain.

In his 16 years as a professional, he achieved, among other achievements, three victories against players in the top 10, two of which were of great impact: he defeated Roger Federer (5th) on the Hamburg brick, in 2013, and won against Andy Murray (2nd), in Indian Wells 2016. He also reached the round of 16 at Roland Garros in 2021, his best result in Grand Slam tournaments.

And he also accumulated eight successes against tennis players in the top 20, among which the fifth point in the Davis Cup final against Croatia will have stood out forever: on November 27, 2016, with the series tied 2-2 in In search of the first salad bowl in history, Delbonis took out the giant Ivo Karlovic (20th) 6-3, 6-4 and 6-2 and gave the world title to Argentina.

“The truth is that no one was prepared to live after the Davis Cup. We were all prepared to win it but none of us were ready to think about what to do if we won it. It took us all by surprise. Winning the Davis Cup was unique in the emotional aspect “It had an enormous magnitude and no one was used to that level of media. Before we went unnoticed in large cities but today it is more difficult for us. I’m not complaining, of course. Certain precautions must be taken so that everything continues as normally as possible,” he said months ago. then Delbonis, who played a total of nine cup matches between 2014 and 2016, in the privacy of an interview with Página/12.

That indelible weekend in November 2016, after four lost finals (1981, 2006, 2008 and 2011), Argentina would break the spell and cease to be the only power on the international tennis map that had not won the title in the competition. most prestigious in team tennis. In a covered stadium full of Argentine fans, in an atmosphere perhaps impossible to match, Delbonis played the most important game with the mettle of an undaunted warrior, the same serenity with which he had already contributed two pivotal points in the quarterfinals against Italy. , in the clay of Pesaro, against Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini.

He had already fallen due to details, in five sets, in the first point of the series against Marin Cilic, the number seven in the world, and the other three matches had already elapsed: Del Potro had worked to stop Karlovic’s bombs, he had given in together with Mayer in an adverse double against Cilic-Dodig and had materialized the miracle with a comeback from two sets down against Cilic, when Croatia already felt like champions. Karlovic had his head in the celebrations before the fifth point; Delbonis, on the other hand, was dying to play that game. The result was overwhelming: 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 and eternal glory.

“I thought I wasn’t going to play. It was very complicated. Cilic was very solid and Juan Martín had a hard time getting into the rhythm, tired after having played Friday and Saturday. In the fourth set I started to get psyched up and I didn’t see it in the fifth because They isolated me in the locker room so that my nerves wouldn’t grow. But it was impossible; I was waiting for a life or death outcome. The pressure suddenly attacked me. Luckily I took it as a great opportunity and put my mind simply to playing. Karlovic “There was a lot of pressure because they were on the verge of winning and they had to start from scratch in another match. After the first set Karlovic collapsed,” the Azul hero deepened, in dialogue with this medium, regarding the moments prior to the maximum commitment. of their life. The match that no one will ever forget or erase.

How the singles of the Argentina Open continues

-Wednesday: Guillermo Vilas Central Court

At 1:30 p.m.: Tomás Martín Etcheverry (Argentina) vs. Daniel Elahí Galán (Colombia).

Not before 3:30 p.m.: Alejandro Tabilo (Chile) vs. Dusan Lajovic (Serbia) or Arthur Fils (France).

Not before 6:30 p.m.: Francisco Cerúndolo (Argentina) vs. Facundo Díaz Acosta (Argentina).

Not before 8:00 p.m.: Nicolás Jarry (Chile) vs. Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland)

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2024-02-14 02:03:36
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