By Federico Coronado - Argentina's team prepares for this coming weekend's clash against Brazil. Statement of unity with controversial choice of words for tie versus sporting arch-rivals. Del Potro still not fit, will be there to assist teammates, anyway.
Argentina's Davis Cup tennis team issued a statement on Monday under the motto One Team, One Country, One Dream as proof of unity for this coming weekend's home clash against Brazil. Twenty years ago, Nelson Mandela achieved utopy: through a sport he didn't know -rugby- he united his people. Each one of us from his place would like to convey the same message: that we feel we are a team and that a country supports us. Everyone is after a dream. Because we're all lined up we can win the Davis Cup, read the statement that bore no personal signature, only that of National Tennis Team and which was released through the Argentine Tennis Association usual press conduits.
This speech should mark the end to interpersonal rivalries among Argentine tennis players in recent years. But, in a country where the president referred to the demonstrators seeking justice in the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman as them, which automatically turned those affiliated with the government into we, it is very clear that there are people in need of unity, making it an unwanted force of habit to read between the lines or to second-guess the players. What the tennis players exactly meant is, at best, still unclear, as is the question whether a tennis team or the sporting arch-rivalry against Brazil can actually push anything away from unrest.
One team, One Country was a slogan coined by Edward Griffiths (CEO of South Africa’s rugby federation), not Mandela, and it needed to iterate One not more than twice. Three times, One..., One..., One..., would have inevitably evoked Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph des Willens propaganda film of the 1935 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg. (Ein Volk, Ein Führer, Ein Reich - One People, One Leader, One Empire) and given it an unwanted, nasty ring. Moreover, South Africa had that other issue of the new national anthem that resulted from the blending of the two previous national songs of blacks and whites that were even in different languages. One should hope neither case resembles 2015 Argentina.
Monday's statement also mentions that We are all Argentine and that We are all tennis players. Fortunately, it was not in French. No je suis or nous sommes this time around.
On the brighter side, former world number four Juan Martín del Potro, who is recovering from wrist surgery and is not yet fit to play himself this coming weekend against Brazil, has announced he will be assisting his teammates in whichever capacity captain Daniel Orsanic deems appropriate.
A calmer, more mature Del Potro spoke on Monday during a meeting with the press to mark his becoming Brand Ambassador to Argentina for Peugeot. The French company's marketing strategy also features top-ranked Novak Djokovic as worldwide ambassador.
The 2009 US Open champion also said he hoped this new sponsorship deal will help build a National Tennis Training Centre for young players from Argentina and also from abroad, which would make Buenos Aires once again a destination for youngsters willing to make their way up the international rankings as it was the case of Paraguay's Victor Pecci who reached the 1979 Roland Garros final, eventually losing to Swedish legend Bjorn Borg.