Nalbandian plans to help Argentina in '09 Davis Cup despite setback

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- David Nalbandian confirmed Monday he will play for Argentina in the Davis Cup next year, setting aside the possibility he would step down after a painful loss to Spain in the final.

"It bothers me that people have questioned whether I'm continuing with the Davis Cup or not. For me, representing my country is really an honor," Nalbandian said Monday during a televised news conference in Mar del Plata, the site of Spain's 3-1 victory over Argentina last weekend. "I'm going to continue -- like I've done until this point -- defending Argentina's flag the best way possible."

A sullen-looking Nalbandian said he was devestated by the loss at home.

"Understand the pain of a player not being able to score a point in an important series," Nalbandian said. "Understand the anguish and unease right now.

"Things went badly, but the terrible weekend is over," he said.

Nalbandian gave Argentina its only point in the best-of-five series, beating David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in the first singles match Friday. Nalbandian and Agustin Calleri lost the doubles Saturday to Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco, which left Argentina with the nearly impossible task of winning both reverse singles Sunday to win the title. Top player Juan Martin Del Potro was injured Friday and did not play Sunday.

Nalbandian, upset by the doubles loss, skipped the mandatory news conference after the match and was fined $5,000. Argentina Coach Alberto Mancini said Nalbandian left the Islas Malvinas Stadium because he was not feeling well emotionally.

Nalbandian apologized to reporters for missing the Saturday news conference but accused them of spreading rumors that he argued with Calleri following the doubles loss.

"It really hurts the players when people say things that aren't true," Nalbandian said, sitting alone in front of a room full of reporters.

Despite his disappointment, Nalbandian questioned those who are pessimistic about Argentina's future chances in the Davis Cup.

"We made it to two finals in three years. Why aren't we going to continue having the possibility of reaching our goal [of winning the Davis Cup]?" he said.

Argentina reached the finals in 1981 and 2006, losing to the United States and Russia.

Meanwhile, Argentine Tennis Association vice president Arturo Grimaldi said Monday that Mancini's replacement will be announced within the next month after the team captain announced Sunday he would be stepping down.

Nalbandian's trainer Martin Jaite is being tipped as a contender for the post.

"He's one of the best and without a doubt he's got a chance," Grimaldi told Buenos Aires-based La Red radio station.