SANTIAGO, CHILE: It is fantastic to see how important Davis Cup is to so many prominent players. Once their playing days are over they are pretty quick to put their hands up to take over as captain for their national sides.
As an example there is Guy Forget for France, Thomas Enqvist for Sweden, Pat Rafter for Australia, Albert Costa for Spain and Jim Courier who joins the club for the first time this weekend as he leads the US team. One other former player who has been leading his nation is the Chilean captain Hans Gildemeister.
The 55-year-old was an awkward player to face as he hit double-handed off both sides. He reached a career high ranking of 12 in February 1980 and won four singles titles, two of which were in Santiago, host city of this weekend’s first round Davis Cup by BNP Paribas tie against USA.
In addition to his singles record, he excelled in doubles winning 23 titles. He was also a doubles finalist at the 1982 French Open, and he and Ecuador’s Andres Gomez were the 1986 doubles team of the year.
However, unfortunately for Gildemeister he spent way too much time off court having to recover from either injury, like a debilitating back problem, or illness, like typhus.
His Davis Cup record began in 1977 when he scored two singles wins against Colombia in Santiago. In fact his first four Davis Cup ties were played in his home town. In Davis Cup singles his record included wins against Guillermo Vilas, Jose Luis Clerc and Stefan Edberg.
Hans Gildemeister's Davis Cup player career ended in 1991
His last tie was in 1991, ironically Courier’s first year as a Davis Cup player. Gildemeister played 28 ties, 15 of which were in Chile, and his win-loss record was 23-6 in singles and 13-6 in doubles.
“I prefer to be playing,” laughed Gildemeister sweeping back his now predominantly silver hair. “I get very nervous sitting on the side, especially when the matches go long and very tight.”
The last time Chile and USA met was on grass in 2006 at Mission Hills in California and the tie was decided when Andy Roddick won the first reverse singles, but the final score was a close 3-2.
“The conditions are different this time compared to the last time we played them,” Gildemeister said. “We have different players also but USA comes with a strong team. I know USA wants to win the Davis Cup this year and they have put in a strong combination to win it but it won’t be easy. We are going to put in 100%, 1000% to inspire our players to do our best.”
Slow clay courts and big balls favour the Chileans
“We are playing on clay court where Andy and John (Isner) don’t play their best tennis, that’s why we put a slow court and big balls, I hope it helps us. We are ready to play tennis on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I hope we play our best tennis. Our players rankings are not real and I think they play much better than the ranking right now. I think in the future they will all be in the top 100.”
“Our players are very competitive players and they (USA) will have a hard time. I know the States should beat us because of the rankings and the results but they will have a hard time on the court.”
In Davis Cup the rankings are often thrown out the window because it is not like any other competition. It is not an event for individuals; the players are playing for their teams and their nations and that changes the dynamics significantly. Gildemeister points to the fact that they beat Austria which is a strong team.
“Paul (Capderville) has a lot of experience now in Davis Cup and Nicolas (Massu), everyone knows he is a good competitor in Davis Cup and can do a big surprise. It won’t be easy for the Americans,” he said.
Hans Gildemeister (CHI) - 02/03/2011
Paul Capdeville (CHI) - 02/03/2011