Much has been made over the WTA Dubai event denying Israel’s Shahar Peer a spot in their draw, and now the ATP Dubai event subsequently acquiescing to allowing Israel’s Andy Ram in their doubles draw.
But did this happen at last year’s ATP Dubai event, and it was swept under the rug?
There was no outrage last year when Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram of Israel, one of the top ATP doubles teams (they had just won the Australian Open) entered the ATP Dubai event, bought flights to the ATP Dubai event, then — didn’t show up.
“We can say that we want to play there in the future, like we did this year,” Ram said after last year’s Dubai event, as reported by USA Today’s Doug Robson, who did some lengthy investigative pieces on the incident, generally getting the run-around by all parties involved.
“It’s a very delicate issue,” Erlich added. “We need to keep it vague right now. Next year we will definitely try to go there.”
While Erlich reportedly made the decision not to go, and convinced Ram, Robson noted the odd account of the ATP reimbursing Erlich and Ram for their flights and other expenses. That was an exceedingly nice gesture, considering the ATP probably rarely covers a players’ expenses when they pull out of a tournament at the last minute, on their own accord.
“Neither Andy Ram or Jonathan Erlich were denied a visa last year,” the ATP’s Kris Dent told me on Thursday. “The event gave assurances at the time that they would be allowed to play, both players though decided not to travel from Israel and enter the event.”
End of story?
Robson also reported that ATP Player Council member Bob Bryan asked Erlich/Ram about the ATP’s version of the 2008 Dubai incident.
“I told them the story I heard, and they laughed,” Bryan said.
You can read Robson’s story here: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/2008-03-30-israelis-dubai_N.htm or his more in-depth blog version here: http://blog.douglasrobson.com/2008/03/31/were-israelis-erlich-and-ram-denied-entrance-to-dubai.aspx
Following today’s announcement that the ATP Dubai event would let Ram play this year, the ATP and WTA put out releases by everyone involved and their mothers regarding how everything with pro tennis in Dubai is hunky-dorey.
“I am pleased that the UAE have today confirmed that I will be able to travel to their country next week to compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships,” Ram said in an ATP release. “As a professional tennis player I thrive on competing at the world’s best events and next week will be no different. I want to thank everyone involved for their support over the last week. My focus is now on my tennis and ensuring that I can perform to the best of my abilities on court and I am very much looking forward to doing that in Dubai next week.”
As the Peer-Dubai-Ram incident gets wrapped up in a neat bow in the coming days, and the WTA announces that their Dubai event will receive a slap on the wrist for booting Peer from the draw, we’re left wondering if this actually first happened last year, but the ATP managed to hush up what this year became a PR nightmare on the women’s side.
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