Much to his, not to mention his fans', delight, Rafa Nadal has been declared fit to play for Spain against Switzerland in their World Group first round Davis Cup tie (Geneva, 9-11 February). Rafa, who would fight tooth and nail for his country until he dropped, personifies the essence of Davis Cup tennis. Indeed he has gone on record many times as saying how much he loves competing for a team, the camaraderie in the Spanish camp, and, most especially, how proud it makes him to have the honour of playing for his country. Indeed, only serious injury has ever kept Rafa from representing Spain in the Davis Cup.
That is why we at VamosBrigade.com were so surprised to find taken by the rest of the English language media as fact the mistranslation into English of a statement by Rafa made in Spanish in Madrid last October - when he said he did not know yet if Federer would be playing because Roger did not usually play the Davis Cup first round matches and it was reported, initially by a well known news agency, as Rafa having said he himself was not sure he would be playing against Switzerland because he did not usually play first round matches.
Of all the tennis pundits who should have known better than to believe that Rafa Nadal, of all people, would of his own will opt out of Davis Cup competition, of the chance to play for his country, only Kamakshi Tandon in her website CourtCoverage, which compiles a daily list of tennis articles, cast doubts on the accuracy of the quotation. Everyone else picked up the erroneous information as fact and there were scathing articles written about Nadal's lack of example and commitment. Ex players like John McEnroe were asked what they thought of a young player like Nadal opting out of Davis Cup competition and, of course, Nadalphobes had a field day on tennis forums worldwide.
Not only did nobody stop to question the rationality of what they were saying given Rafa's well known 100% commitment to playing for his country in the Davis Cup, but for months now they have continued reporting the misquotation as fact. Just last week in Melbourne, Mary Carrillo was still declaring that neither Federer nor Nadal would be playing in the Davis Cup first round tie and one report from the Australian Open, with an AP byline, insisted yet again that "Nadal was still trying to put Spanish fans' minds at rest about his participation".
Spanish fans do not need their minds put at rest. Just like the VamosBrigade, they have never had any doubts about Rafa turning out to play for his country, firstly, because they know how much it means to him to play for Spain in the Davis Cup, and, secondly, because the report that he might choose to opt out of playing the first round match - which would not have been believed anyway - only appeared in the English language media as the result of the agency translation error mentioned above. The Spanish press, quite naturally, reported Rafa's actual words and so there has never, in all these months since October, been any article or report in the Spanish language media on this topic.
Rafa Nadal has been Spain's Davis Cup standard-bearer since he burst on to the world stage by defeating Andy Roddick in the Davis Cup final in Seville in December 2004 and we are all looking to him to help bring another 'salad bowl' home in 2007.