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"Climbing the Comeback Mountain with the Tower of Tandil."

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Elf Fans Unite! (And Hide in Laundry Carts.)

Posted by gauloises1 on October 4, 2009

It goes without saying that I can’t understand a word that’s said in this video, but I like it nonetheless.

I mean, I think this guy gets us. I think he gets what we’re about. That is, getting as close to JMDP as we can. OK, so if we were hiding in that laundry cart there wouldn’t be cameras, Elf wouldn’t look nearly so pleased to see us, and it wouldn’t be so much a hilarious joke as cause for a restraining order. Also, we’d probably be naked. But still.

In that spirit, linex was kind enough to send me some stuff from a recent edition of Grip magazine dedicated to JMDP. Linex is an old cheering compatriot of mine from who, like me and a few other terribly cool people (the majority of them, I’m happy to say, commenters on this blog), were all about the Elf before he got famous won the U.S. Open.  I really like these articles and they’re well worth reading, especially in linex’s fantastic translation.

Oh – and I can’t cite source because I can’t seem to find a website for this magazine. But if you want more information, you can always e-mail them on and try your luck.

Editorial by Lucas Arguelles:


The emotions are still alive, the figure of the Tower of Tandil lying on the floor, isolated from all what was happening around him, is the image that comes to my memory. That Monday 14th September will always be part of the great history of the Argentine tennis not only as the day when a player of our country came back to win in that soil, but as the moment when Juan Martín definitively entered the major hall of this sport.

It was always believed that the ultimate Tandilense jewel was destined to obtain major achievements. Not long ago, however, little more than a year ago, all that those dreams, seemed to start to fall apart, when the results were not arriving, and the injuries were often. But Franco Davin found the appropriate method, and the glory for Delpo arrived early, at 20 years of age.

For those of us who assume the function of transmitting these historical facts, it is difficult to separate the role of the journalist from the passion that this sports discipline generates. I have to confess that, while I did not have the luck to watch Guillermo Vilas win in Forest Hills in 1977, when Del Potro started his march towards his box and immersed himself in a hug with his team, the emotion emerged and some tears were wept.

In this special issue of GRIP, the most important one since we lead this publication, we will devote pages and pages to the spectacular conquest  that Juan Martin Del Potro achieved in Flushing Meadows. Many words have been written by different specialists. Nevertheless, there is something that we want to make clear herein, and that is the pride that we all the lovers of this sport of the racquet feel, as a result of having a champion like Juan Martín Del Potro.

Apart from the achievement, Juan Martín transmits the image of the perfect sportsman, that one that generates pride in and outside of the court. That one that the entire world has in Federer, Argentina has it in Del Potro, a kid, with only two decades of age. To that we need to add all the notorious  effort that the tennis players of our country make, and the brilliance with which this enormous player surpassed the best players of the world. A deadly cocktail, that goes directly to the heart when one is a witness of his success.

In the editorial of the previous issue of GRIP, also devoted to Juan Martín, we pointed out that he already was part of that maximum elite group, composed of only five players. In an illustrative example, we said that he had already got rid of the posters of his idols that were hanging in the wall of his bedroom. That he only needed to hang his own poster. And well he emphatically did it now.

The crowning of the Tandilense is and will always be a remarkable feat in the annals of our sport. But what we need to keep in mind is that this is just  the start of a long and fructiferous career, that will strengthen this discipline in our country, in all its levels. Juan Martín was convinced that he was going to win the Us Open, and he achieved it. As soon as he arrived to Bs. As., he confessed that his goal is to win the Masters Cup in London, and, as if this was a small feat, to be the world’s number one. With the determination that he showed at Flushing Meadows, what prevents us from thinking that he will not achieve it? A new door was opened and everything is possible from now on. Including the old dream of the Davis Cup. Just in time, when the Argentine Legion of players starts to change, and the Argentine tennis is not what it used to be.

Finally, we only need to thank Juan Martín and his team for the huge joy that they provided to us. Together with that, the simplicity with which they carried themselves after the triumph, and lastly the pride of being able to enjoy of a new ambassador of the Argentine Tennis, exemplary from all sides that we can analyze him. Ah, and one more appreciation. Thanks, Juan Martín, for following our advice. We are not interior designers, but we are convinced that the poster with the champions  trophy of the 2009 US Open, the tourney that you always dreamt of winning, will be the most beautiful of your bedroom.

By Rafael Altamira:

The Other Side of the Making of a Champion

It is not a minor topic, all what is transmitted beyond the boundaries of a tennis court. Throughout the great moment experienced by the Argentine Legion of tennis players, there were many occasions when the tennis results were not in agreement with the behaviors – attitudes in the trophy ceremonies or in the press conferences. I remember very well that a colleague from the Washington Post, seven years ago, after receiving an unjustified bad treatment from an Argentine tennis player, told me: “Don’t they know that they need to treat the media well? Aren´t they aware that the big companies take the press into account at the time of deciding?

As of that moment, I attached a lot of importance to those words. And I started to study and compare the Argentine players with many role models of the international tennis community. What was pointed out by my colleague was true. So true and real that around the international stars there was a well understood concept of the other face of the athlete. That face which is related to all the obligations, that has nothing to do with being an example for others.

You may ask yourself what has this to do with Del Potro. And I must answer that a lot. Frankly, Juan Martín Del Potro is the first player of this new generation that is doing the things in a different manner than the rest. In every sense. From answering without limitations, in English, all the questions and requirements posed after the matches, to complying with most joy the obligations associated with any tournament.

If we analyze it from the sports point of view, to materialize the results that stem from a disciplined training regime. In  times of glory, it is necessary to memorize and to recall the journey that was travelled. Only a little less than two months ago, to talk to Juan Martin was almost impossible. The answer of his entourage was that he was especially preparing for winning the US Open. And his days in Argentina were only devoted for preparing the season’s last Grand Slam. There was no place for interviews with the local media, with the exception of one appearance in Susana Gimenez’s show, a Sunday night. Some light criticisms were heard, but Del Potro like his entourages were coherent with their beliefs in connection with the communications strategy: the construction of a complete elite athlete. With all its implications.

Time after, with the results as an exhibit (notwithstanding the US Open, Del Porto’s yearly growth does not stop), the plan designed by Daniel, his father, and by Rafael Groppo, a consultant that applied to this case the best of the experiences lived by Mariano Zabaleta, Guillermo Coria and David Nalbandian, is producing its results. As of September 14th 2009, Del Potro not only won the US Open: he became a star and entered into the American market, the dreamt pinnacle. From that date on, Juan Martin Del Potro became a different athlete, because of all what he has achieved and because of the promises of his future career in tennis. It is for these reasons, that more than ever, the designed plan must be literally applied to its full extent. Because from now on, Del Potro will not only be measured by his results, the other face of the champion will also be observed by everyone.

By Altamira again:

From Tandil to New York

In December 1999, after a season in which he consolidated himself as a tennis player, Mariano Zabaleta organized a celebration for the benefit of a Tandil entity, playing a match against his friend Franco Squillari. Hours later, when the celebrations were limited to a closer circle …, Nidia, Mariano Zabaleta´s mother, gave an accurate forecast: “Here we have an eleven year old child, named Juan Martin Del Potro and I assure you that he will become a crack [meaning champion]”.

Apart from the news posted in the offices of the AAT [Argentine Tennis Association] on children’s results, this was the first news about the new US Open champion.

It was known, among all those who seriously play tennis in Tandil, that Del Potro was a product of academy lead by Marcelo Gómez, that the child who once wanted to play football, but who chose tennis following his father’s indication, was part of the successful produce that arose with the Perez Roldán and Davin and that continued with Zabaleta, Mónaco and the rising Diego Junqueira and Máximo González.

With the economic difficulties that all the Argentine players experience in their development stage, Del Potro and his family continued loyal to the project that Juan Martín had commenced. In the middle, with 13 years of age, he suffered, as all the Argentines, the economic crisis of the end of 2001. Almost simultaneously, the AAT was experiencing a deficit of funds, for that reason, the project of developing juniors travelling around the world was officially not viable.

But with fight, with a surprising 1.90 cms of height and with the help of Gómez, Del Potro obtained the economic funds to play, in the end of 2002, the Orange Bowl, in the category of 14 years.  As if it could not happen in a different manner, Juan Martín became the owner of that competition, losing only two sets during the whole tournament.

Until then, the son of a veterinary and of a teacher, was the number 1  of the South American ranking and the number 15 of the European Tennis Association (ETA), only entity that world widely ranks the under 16 juniors. At the same time, he was part with Emiliano Massa of the team that obtained the South American competition in Chile and the third place in Prostejov, in the Czech Republic.

Two tears later, in April 2004, Del Potro was chosen as a sparring for the Argentine team that travelled to Belarus for the quarter finals of the Davis Cup. During the first days, he got tired of bombarding with serves to any member of the team who would face him. And not only that the “junior”, as he was called by members of the national coaching team, already showed his Boca fanatics and his virtues as a human being, treating the few members of the Argentine press that had travelled to Belarus  with the delicious Haagen Dazs ice creams that were supposedly only reserved for players.

But Del Potro, was so loyal to his roots, that when he started to travel around the world, in his last stages as a junior, and in his first steps as a professional, he chose not to change and to continue with his old professor, Gómez.

In 2005, he suffered a quick elimination in the juniors competition in Roland Garros, but his condition as an Argentine, was a key reason for Rafael Nadal to ask him to stay as a sparring since at the time he was preparing himself to win his first title in Paris. Minutes before Rafa´s final, an argentine journalist found Del Potro in one of the corridors of Phillipe Chatrier alone in a Haagen Dazs stand.

“So again, with the ice-creams like in Minsk.
Yes, the problem is that they do not allow me to get in.
How is it that they do not allow you to enter?
They say that I am a junior, and that the juniors are not allowed to get in to see the matches.
Well allow me to try to make a deal, in any eveny come with me to the press room. There you will find a window where you can watch the matches”.

Del Potro followed the journalist to the press room. When the final started they both went close to that window. As in the tango “Cafetín de Buenos Aires”, Juan Martín leaned his nose in the window, and never stopped watching the match with the utmost admiration.

The illusion only lasted ten minutes, until a gentleman with a red coat, in perfect French, told him that this was not his place. Del Potro requested him to please allow him to watch a while more. But it could not be. He had to eat his anger, and at the same time his accomplice told him, as a consolation, “do not worry in less than a year, you will be playing here”. And that was exactly what happened because one year later in 2006 he was facing Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first round.

Del Potro had already given signals that had the tennis world in alert about his future. In fact, Nike had already signed a contract with him (which is still in force and effect) and the ATP looked at him as one of the promises of the future. But the greatest difficulty for Juan Martin was his physical development. That issue translated itself in injuries and lack of accuracy when striking the ball. Nonetheless, with Eduardo Infantino as a coach, a patient strategy was elaborated and it was backed up by decisive statistics: he was the youngest player among the first 200 of the world (2005), he achieved the same record in 2006 but among the top 100, he repeated in 2007 but among the top 50, and materialized the same in 2008 but among the top ten.

In the meantime, he debuted with a triumph in Davis Cup in  the Ausrian city of Linz in the decisive point against Jurgen Melzer; in March 2008, Davin assumed the position formerly occupied by Infantino and four months after Del Potro´s  adventure would become the dreamed movie.

Four consecutive titles and without stops to the Davis Cup team that played the semi finals against Russia. In the middle, the anecdote of pulling off the underwear to Nadal, the arguments with David Nalbandian for  the Final of the Davis Cup, the injury suffered during the second point in Mar del Plata and the upset for the dream that had been erased.

But Del Potro continued working. He obtained the first title of the year, in Auckland, he started to comply with his promise of winning against those who he could not beat, like against Nadal in Miami; he scarred Federer in Roland Garros; Hewitt gave him a quick farewell in Wimbledon and he won his two Davis Cup matches against the Czech Republic.

He returned to Argentina and he committed himself to seriously preparing the Us Open, the tournament of his dreams. He wanted to win it. We already know he did it. And that the words of Nidia Zabaleta, ten years before, were also true. Tandil had a champion  in blossoms. That completely shined in New York and whose name is Juan Martín Del Potro.

I haven’t edited these translations at all because they’re so fantastic as they are. Thanks so much to linex for taking the time. In all seriousness, it can be tricky being a huge Elf fan without speaking the language and it means a lot that people are so generous with their expertise. Really …

23 Responses to “Elf Fans Unite! (And Hide in Laundry Carts.)”

  1. Juan José said

    Fantastic work, linex! I have to get my sister to buy me that issue of GRIP Magazine. From what I understand, the people at are involved in it.

    Not even Amy knew that DelPo was Nadal’s sparring partner at the 05 French Open. Which is saying a lot, really.

    Finally, I’m slowly getting nervous about next Saturday. Ecuador plays Uruguay, linex’s team. It’s basically for all the marbles: if Uruguay loses, they’re out of contention for a spot to South Africa. If Ecuador wins, at least the playoff with Concacaf is secured. Enormous game, to cap off two years worth of matches.

    This week will be tense. So a good DelPo run in Tokyo would be nice (unlike the inevitable Djokovic loss to Roddick in Beijing).

  2. sophienz said

    He is just too lovely for words.
    I also liked that they walked into a room of babes at the end.

  3. mrdarnley said

    I think it’s imperative that we learn spanish. He is very hot and I liked the room of babes at the end too. There’s loads of fan photos on the fan page on facebook. Most are the popular ones or shots from the TV but recently someone posted some snaps of him as a kid. They’re not high quality but anyway…

  4. Maria said

    *claps* Thank you very much linex, great articles, and very sweet about Del Potro. The clip is tres amusing, I wish I understood spanish and I wish him the best in Toyko. 🙂

    Yes, I know I’ve jumped on the bandwagon :p But I’ll be keeping an eye on this one….

    The pics of him as a kid are adorable, really like the one with his sister.

  5. linex said

    Thanks a lot Gauloises, Juan José, Maria, et al. for the compliments. It was my pleasure to be able to contribute with something. I really appreciate that Juanma has so many loyal and genuine foreign fans like you so this is the least I can do.

    I thought that the first two articles were pretty insightful and that they are a true sample of Argentine public´s perspective on Juanma´s achievements and persona.

    It is interesting to see that the Argentine press already noted that there are some notorious differences in Juanma´s approach to his career in comparison to another recent promises of the Argentine tennis like Nalbandian and Coria.

    As JJ who used to be a big fan of Nalbandian knows, Nalbi who I still enjoy and root for him in every match, had the chance of achieving a lot more in his career, like Juan Martín at the early age of 20 he reached a final in non clay Grand Slam and soon after had match points to reach his second final in that conext in Flushing. However, for different reasons, he never had the clear ambtion that Juanma has of being the world´s number one. We will never know if with Nalbandian it was a problem of personal ambition, or the lack of a plan like the one Juan Martín´s entourage and team designed for him, that includes hard training, off court activities, and complying with press and other obligations. I guess it is a little of both. I still think that if fit and trained David can still win a Grand Slam, any of the four.

    Right now, the final of the Petrobras Challenger held at the clay courts of the Vilas Club in Bs As just finished. I watched it on Tv, Horacio Zeballos now ranked number 60 aprox, is the new champion. He beat Gastón Gaudio in the final in three sets. While I was able to attend the quarter finals and the semis, I could not go there today because the tickets were sold out. A pity because I saw nice stuff from both Zeballos and Gaudio during the week. They both have a similar game with a one handed backhand. Gaudio has more talent but Horacio has now a better serve.

    Gauloises, Zeballos nicknamed Cebolla (cebolla means onion) who won six titles in the challenger circuit this year hence his ranking, will next play the European indoor tournaments, so maybe you all got to finally see him play on TV or live.
    And hey do not worry the nickname was invented because of his last name which sounds similar but not because of his bad breath or something like that …

    JJ Ecuador is the clear favourite next week do not worry. Your national team plays very well in Quito, while not impossible (Uruguay has obtained good results a visitor in the past) it is unlikely that we win there. It is unfortunate that Uruguay did not take its chances when playing in Lima and Caracas, I consider Peru and Venezuela easier assignments than Ecuador, especially in present times. And in both cases, we had the chance to win and we ended up with a draw and a last minute defeat in Lima because of terrible defence mistakes.

    All our hopes rest on Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez great forwards, our defence while as bad as the argentine one, commits a silly mistake per match.

  6. linex said

    Sorry I meant “our defence is not as bad as the Argentine one”. I am no fan of Demichelis, Heinze, Zanetti et al. I prefer Gonzalo Rodriguez for example who plays at Villareal but was not nominated for these matches.

    Regarding the the video posted herein, CQC “Caiga quien Caiga” is a popular TV show in Argentina. This bold guy is famous for getting inside the locker rooms when Argentine Davis Cup teams and the like are celebrating victories. His aim is to obtain funny stories, he is not intrested in the typical press conferences. That is why at the beginning of the video he says that he aims to get into the room of the Intercontinental hotel in BA where Delpo was going to celebrate with this Tandilense friends after finishing with his press obligations. When he finally meets Delpo he asks him about his tennis shoes, Delpo says that they were a gift from the US Open, that they probablly had ones ready for Roger too in case he had won. Later on the reporter tells him look here my interest is to get to celebrate with you and your friends in your room. Delpo told him well come with me, I am sure that my friends will be more enthusiastic about your presence than mine … When they finally get into the room the reporter says that he will not turn the camera off so they can cheer in peace.

  7. linex said

    Oh I forgot to tell you that the reporter gives Delpo a pair of sun glasses because he was told by his colleagues of his show that in Belarus while acting as a sparring he usually got sunglasses as a gift from the journalists ..

    Also in the next segment when the reporter is dressed like a vampire he asks Delpo if he got some sleep in the last days and Delpo answers that he only slept 3 hours in the past days. He then tells him that he was totally scared when in the elevator climbing up the Empire State building. In spite of his height, Delpo confessed after getting down from that sky scraper that he suffers from Vertigo. That he did not even want to look down when he got out in the 100 and something floor of the Emprire State. I recall that he got stuck in an elevator I do not remember in what hotel and in what city. Well what can we say disadvantages that come with fame and travelling around the world you sometimes need to get to the upper of floors of different kind of Towers.

    I see that Delpo was trading off Haagen Dazs ice creams for sunglasses with the press … So Belarus always remembered as the start of his romance with the Argie press …

    Remember he invited all the argie press members to have dinner with him at the expensive steakhouse Smmith and W in Third Avenue, midtown, NYC.

  8. siara said

    LOL that was funny. have you seen the interview with susana gimenez? yeah, the quality sucks but who cares? I love his eyes!

  9. siara said

    by the way, at 4:55 he says that when he turns 28 years old he will retire and look for a girlfriend and then she aks if he doesn’t have a girlfriend now e he says no.

    (I’m sorry for my english, it’s not very good :P)

  10. Saoirse said

    This is totally irrelevant. Feel free not to read any further… Okay, I have kept this mean, rude and childish comment to myself long enough and now, like gastroenteritis, it HAS to get out of me, word vomit-style, so I’ll just bite the bullet and say it:

    Look-wise, Susana is a weird, eerie and unfortunate crossing between Joan Rivers and Donatella Versace, isn’t she?

    Should I just stop drinking,scrutinizing, judging people harshly and get a life? Most probably. I apologize if I have offended anyone. I am sure she’s lovely. For a freak.

  11. mrdarnley said

    haha! You are not alone! She must have a brilliant plastic surgeon. I think she could be a man in drag. Meow. But listen I am strangely hypnotised by her so I checked out her website. FUNNY stuff. Either she’s taking the piss or it’s culture specific (like the interview in the shower but I’m not complaining!)
    Thanks a mill Linex for all your explaining and translating and Siara for the video.

  12. Saoirse said

    Oh, you think that plastic surgery *might be* involved?? That thought never even crossed my mind!! 🙂 Not sure about the brilliance of her plastic surgeon, though… She’s well into Michael Jackson territory if you ask me. If you stare at her long enough she kinda scares the living shit out of ya. Especially on that freeze frame from Siara’s post. It’s what some nightmares are made of. Mine anyways.

    Seriously people, that website is FUNNY, FUNNY stuff! Her favorite historical figure is Jesus! How can you not love the woman! Jesus AND John Galliano. The lady’s got taste! Amen sister! And what can be said about the picture of her in a big Russian fur hat, flesh colored catsuit and thigh high stripper boots!? Priceless! That, honestly, has got to be her finest moment. Her website is loaded with good stuff! Totally cringe-worthy, but in a good kind of way.

    Thanks for sharing Mrdarnley, perfect way to round off a weekend! I shall now return to it like a dog returns to its vomit.

  13. linex said

    Sairose, Mcdarnely, Susana has plenty of surgeries more than one per year. She is like 64 years old nowadays. She started as a model, continued as a vedette, then as an actress both in movies and theatre and finally as a Tv presenter. She is one of the most famous and well liked celebrities in Argentina, in spite of all her recent surgeries. She is natural though in the way of talking and treating her guests in her show that is why Juan Martin Del Potro adores her.

  14. Saoirse said

    Oh don’t get me wrong Linex, I am sure she is the nicest person. Everything about her is highly entertaining especially her website which I am now discovering as a great guilty pleasure… But her *looks*?? The words scary and shit come to mind.

    This woman no longer looks human. Whoever thinks differently is boycotted. And seriously disturbed.

    Please understand that I am bored out of my mind and have nothing better to do than pollute Gaul’s blog with lame ramblings.

    I am so sorry.

  15. linex said

    Saoirse, do not worry, I agree with you, Susana´s face was ruined by surgeries. I did not post that video so no problem. I just wanted to explain who Susana is in Argentina. She is the equivalent of Oprah Winfrey in the US to say the least.

    My translation was in connection with the video that Gauloises posted on top.

  16. Daniel said

    Another youtube video you may find interesting

  17. Daniel said

    What kind of practice have so much crowd and ball boys?

  18. naughtyT... said

    superstar practice!!…. and by that I mean super sexy star Juan Monaco

  19. naughtyT... said

    and I am so tempted to insert a Michael Buble reference here just so his hysterical menopausal fanclub turns up here again… oh I just did.

  20. linex said

    So it seems that fans in Japan were treated to a free exhibition, well perhaps they needed to see tennis for free after the women final abrupt end.

    I am glad that Delpo is practicing because I do not think that he had a lot of time to practice in Argentina after the Us Open with all the celebrations, teeth job, interviews, etc.

  21. Mango said

    Thanks for the translation, Linex.

    This post has me thinking about the random Elf facts that have convinced me to become an Elf fan. Maybe it’s because I’m a little sister, but I think I first started to like him when I found out that he gave his Mercedes Benz to his little sister after winning Stuttgart. And this was even before he won the Lexus.

  22. mrdarnley said

    I mean no offence either. Susana Gimenez is total rock and roll compared to Ireland’s equivalent (an asexual 35 year old nerd).

  23. albergopalermo…

    […]Elf Fans Unite! (And Hide in Laundry Carts.) « New Balls, Please[…]…

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