Nalbandian - in confident mood (Getty Images)
NALBANDIAN SEEKS SWEET REVENGE
By From Sergio Ferraro, PA International, Buenos Aires
David Nalbandian leading an Argentinian Davis Cup team was something impossible to imagine less than a year ago.
But one Wimbledon final and a string of victories later, it's an unquestionable reality.
The 21-year-old will be the key player in this week's tie against Germany, playing the number one singles slot and the doubles.
"This is the first time I will play a Davis Cup in my country, and the feeling is unmatchable. I'm really happy and waiting for the victory," he told PA International.
Nalbandian only made his Davis Cup debut in Argentina's last fixture - the 2002 semi-finals against Russia in Moscow.
Partnering Lucas Arnold - as he is expected to do against the Germans - he won an epic doubles match against Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, taking the fifth set 19-17.
On the Sunday, however, he lost in the singles against Safin and Russia qualified for the finals where they beat France.
"If we defeat Germany, we may face the Russians in the second round.
"This time it would be in Buenos Aires, and we can't wait for that re-match," he said.
But Nalbandian shouldn't have to wait that long for another re-match: this weekend he is set to face Rainer Schuettler, who beat him in the quarter-finals of last month's Australian Open.
"I was having a great tournament, but I left with the bitter taste of defeat," the Argentine remembers now.
"When I played Schuettler I had muscular pains from my previous match, and I also had bad day."
"That's why, as soon as I lost, I said I would have my revenge in the Davis Cup.
"This time we will play in my home, and on a clay court, where his level goes down. I think I can defeat him this time."
Nalbandian's lone triumph in four clashes with Schuettler came on clay in last year's Tennis Masters Series event at Monte Carlo.
Reaching the quarter-finals in the Australian Open was enough for Nalbandian to claim ninth place in the ATP rankings, become the first Argentine in the top 10 for 13 years and to see him awarded the captaincy.
"Being ninth in the world fills me with pride," he said.
"I do have more responsibilities now, but that doesn't add any pressure for this tie. Here we're a team, and how I am ranked doesn't count.
"We have a great team. All the guys are in great form, and we feel great about playing in front of our people.
"The Davis Cup is something really special, and we don't want to disappoint the people."
As he talks his confidence rises.
"A result? Write there that we win. We win, 4-1."