Thought we need a news thread here as well
To start with, here a translation of yesterday's interview with Mariano from La Nacion (thanks to Jelena and Mercedes for the translation help)
Zabaleta: "We are professionals and we cannot take anything"
After a complicated year in which he suffered two injuries, the tennis player from Tandil aspiers to enter among the best 20 and admits his worry about the antidoping controls.
PUNTA DEL ESTE. - Dressed in a green shirt and bathing suit, Mariano Zabaleta enjoys a moment of relaxation in the pool of the hotel Conrad, some hours before his encounter with the Chilean Nicolas Massú for the Desafio TelMex. At the same time he applies an ice pack to the right arm. "They are pains of pre-season, nothing serious", explains the Tandilense, who wants to begin the season 2006 with the best expectations.
The year I finished was very difficult to me, because I was playing very well, but I had two important injuries (break of the tendon of the left sole and an artroscopia in the left knee), although I could recover. I finished among the best 70, which for me is a bad ranking, but it is reasonable to be able to return fast if I begin with good results. I want to finish 2006 among the best 15 or 20 of the world. I was always close to it, but I did never manage it. Also I would like to win a big tournament", he says.
For a little more than a year, Zabaleta alternates his activity in the circuit with the television programme Tenis Pro, that he conducts together with Juan Ignacio Chela. However he denies that doing the tv show disturbs his concentration on his tennis career. "It does not have a negative influence at all. On the contrary, it does me well because many times it distracts me. It makes us happy that many people can see the tennis players in a way that they cannot know in their life, people can see that tennis players are common people. Many people, who have nothing to do with tennis, see the programme, but this is television. We do it in a good way and we search for things that entertain the people".
Recently you began to work with Guillermo Pérez Roldán as coach. What expectations do you have for the new phase?
-He was a great player, with a lot of experience, and he can help me a lot in that sense. He knows a lot of tennis, he is a hard worker and I believe that we can be a good team.
When you began your career, your coach was Raúl, Guillermo's father, and the things did not finish well?
-But that has nothing to do with it, it is another relationship. I have always got along excellently with Guillermo.
How did you experience the sanction that received Mariano Puerta?
-I didn't take it well, because I lived all the career with him - they played the Roland Garros final 1995- and I know about the bad and good moments that he passed, about all his sufferings to be on the top again, and that now his career ends this way, makes me very sad. I do not agree with this type of sanctions, in which nobody thinks about the human part of the player.
You are somebody who did not have problems with the controls. Do you think it is a situation which could have been caused by the carelessness of the player?
-And, it could be.. But the theme of the doping is very strict. There are things (medicaments) that give you a positive result which make no sense, because they do not favour you physically and I do not know why they are on the list. Speaking about Mariano, they discovered a substance that has not improved his performance and they gave him a eight years ban. This is something I do not understand.
Don't you feel you worried when you need to take something?
-Thousand times! When I have to take a medicine I am afraid that if I have to do a control something appears that I don't know where it is coming from. It is difficult. It can be a carelessness, an error of the doctor of the tournament, as it happened to Canas. It can be any mistake, not only the player. We are professionals and sadly we cannot take anything.
In the circuit is there some reference about the Argentine cases?
-At times you hear comments of players of other countries and and the truth is that they break the balls (pelotas)
Two years passed since your last match in the Davis Cup (2-3 against Spain, in the semifinal of 2003). How do you see the possibility to play it again?
-There are some incredible players and in order to enter the team I am going to need impressive results, but obviously I would love to play again. It is something that we always speak with Luli (Mancini, the captain) in the meetings, and he always tells us that all have chances. I believe that we are very close. We lack luck, to play in Argentina. The last times that we lost we played away. One year we are going to play the semifinal at home and it will be a different story.