Gastón Gaudio (nicknamed 'El Gato') was part of the trio of outstanding Argentinean players - together with David Nalbandian and Guillermo Coria - that reached the 'top 10' in 2004. On top of that, in that year he managed to win the title at Roland Garros. In his nine Davis Cup appearances, he accumulated 13 victories and 3 defeats, reaching the semi-finals on two occasions (2002 and 2003). He assumed the sole captaincy of the team in February of this year after sharing the challenge in 2018 with Coria and Guillermo Cañas.
What did it mean to assume the captaincy of Davis Cup?
Becoming captain after having been a tennis player is the dream of any tennis player once he retires. Having the opportunity to manage the team from the outside, after several years have passed since you left the circuit, I think, is more than a dream, it is a necessity. You have the feeling that you are playing again. Competing and being part of a Davis Cup team was always the best thing that happened to me while playing and now being outside, the truth is that it is a great satisfaction.
When do you suffer more, as a tennis player or as a captain?
I think you suffer a lot more as a captain. As a tennis player you always have a chance to change things; you are on the court and you decide on your own and you don't have to depend on anyone else. As a captain you have a feeling of impotence that you can't control and you suffer a lot more.
How do you use your experience as an elite player in the captaincy?
The experience that tennis gives you, having a career as a professional and having played many Davis Cups, can be very useful to the players who are in the team today. You always have the ability to say, 'Look, I was where you are just now, I know what you're going through, I know what you're suffering and I know how bad it feels sometimes when you represent the country and things do not go the right way,' and with that experience I can pump up the players. I think it's something very valuable and I hope the boys can take advantage of it.
In that regard, what is the most valuable advice you can give them?
The most valuable piece of advice as captain? In the end, it’s nothing more than a tennis match, and I have to try to make them enjoy it as much as possible because playing for a country, representing Argentina, is something unique and I can assure them that they will never feel it again in any of the other tasks they do in their life after quitting tennis.
"The support and contribution of the Argentine fans are something you can't buy."
Do you remember the first time you played for your country?
The first time I played for Argentina in the Davis Cup was in Cordoba, against Belarus, and it was a unique experience. The truth is that it's something you never forget. Wearing the Argentina shirt when playing tennis is not as common as in football or other sports, it happens only from time to time, and it is a priceless feeling. I remember that Argentina was in the American Zone and we had the chance to be promoted to the World Group and it's something you can't forget. I hope that all of those who have the opportunity to represent Argentina today can enjoy it as we did.
How do you see the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals group stage, with Germany and Chile?
We have a tough group stage but everyone who qualifies to play in Madrid is part of the best in the world. We're lucky enough to be there and yes, playing against Chile is a historic match, it's not easy, they have two players who are performing at an excellent level in Jarry and Garin, so they will be very confident - but we're also confident because we have a team, we have a bonded group, we're going to play for the country, which is no small thing...so we're confident that we can play a good tournament.
What would you tell to the Argentine fans in Madrid?
Argentine fans are special. I think that Argentinian fans feel the national team of any sport as something that belongs to them. To play in Madrid this year is going to be different because we are going to have the possibility to see the whole championship of Davis Cup in a single week, something that has never happened in its history. To be able to give back what the Argentinean fan always gives to us is something that cannot be bought so please, I ask you all to come to Madrid to support the team, it will be an unforgettable week!
How would you celebrate with the boys if you got to lift the second Salad Bowl in history?
Wow! It would be a dream, I can't even imagine... but I can assure you that we would have plenty of celebrations!
Want to help your team to win the Davis Cup by Rakuten? Show your colours next November. Tickets here!