More Troubles In Dubai

Feb 22, 2009

It hasn’t been a great week for tennis in Dubai. It all started with their controversial decision not to grant a visa to Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer. In an immediate response to this The Tennis Channel refused to televise the event to it’s U.S audience and the event lost one of its major sponsors, The Wall Street Journal Europe, with another sponsor Barclays Bank in serious considerations over its involvement going forward.

These demonstrations of protest obviously had the desired effect on authorities in the UAE who have granted a visa to male Israeli tennis player Andy Ram for this weeks event. So everything looked like it was getting back on track.

That was until five men ranked in the world’s top ten pulled out of the event. Four of these – Federer, Nadal, Davydenko and Verdasco cited injuries as their reason. The fifth player to pull out was Andy Roddick, who stated he was doing so in protest over the Shahar Peer incident. Spokespeople, obviously in blatant damage control mode, were quick to point out that with Roddick making the final of the tour event currently being held in Memphis, he was not going to be able to get to Dubai in time for his opening match anyway.

And the suggestion is they couldn’t have altered the scedule to accomodate this – which is most definitely not the case.

To cover the players lost, wild cards have been granted to Marat Safin, and Nicholas Kiefer. The top two seeds for the tournament will be Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – an exciting prospect for a final regardless of the withdrawal of the other players.

For the last decade Dubai has been building a strong reputation as a sports destination immune to the political difficulties of the region. In one week all this seems to have been undone, and it will be interesting to monitor how other sporting events are affected, if they are at all.

In other news…

Venus Williams bounced back from her early exit in Australia to claim her 40th career title at the event in Dubai. Williams won a tough final in straight sets against unseeded Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano, and the result should see her move back inside the top 5 in the rankings.

This win makes Venus the 12th female player in history to notch up 40 wins. She also took a 10-9 lead in the head-to-head with her sister Serena after winning their semi-final.

Andy Roddick will meet the in-form Czech player Radek Stephanek in the final of the ATP event currently underway in Memphis, Tennessee. Roddick had to come from a set down against a resurgent Lleyton Hewitt, while Stephanek had no such concerns in his 3 & 1 hammering of Dudi Sela.

Written by: Crooksy

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