When the WTA Dubai tournament announced at the last minute it was denying Israel’s Shahar Peer a spot in the field, the tournament went on (as it pretty much had to, from a litigious and financial standpoint).
Amelie Mauresmo, who was not playing the event, condemned the move, as did Venus and Serena Williams and other players involved in the event — but not one player pulled out in a show of solidarity for Peer. The event was fined $300,000 by the WTA, but for the money-laden sheiks, that’s a couple nights out at dinner.
This week the men are in Dubai, and only American Andy Roddick withdrew from the event while condemning the Dubai power play.
“I thought that was a pretty gutsy move on his part to do that,” U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe told reporters today in a conference call, with the Davis Cup competition looming next week. “It’s been interesting over the years to see Andy Roddick, who I mentioned [played] his first tie as a teenager. He’s really grown up and become a man. I think he’s principled, and I think we’ve seen that not only in his decision to not go to Dubai, but in what a professional he is and his commitment to Davis Cup and getting the most out of his ability and what he has…”
Roddick is not above the on-court f-bomb-laden explosion, dressing down chair umpires and reporters in front of the cameras, or engaging in antics that have led to on-court or locker room confrontations with other players. But aside from his “man’s man” persona, or perhaps because of it, he doesn’t flinch in following up on his ideals, whether it’s supporting Davis Cup or, in this case, supporting another player — on another tour.
When Dubai Tournament Director Colm McLoughlin attempted to brush Roddick’s withdrawal off as an injury, Roddick got right to the point.
“I really didn’t agree with what went on over there,” Roddick said. “I don’t know if it’s the best thing to mix politics and sports, and that was probably a big part of [his withdrawl].”
Captain Pat Mac says it has been a pleasure seeing his charge grow since his Davis Cup debut in 2001 — and since then put himself on the line in situations where other players might say ‘Travel to Spain and play Rafael Nadal on clay in a bullring packed with 50,000 people? — Uh, no thanks.’
“He’s really matured a lot,” McEnroe said. “I’ve been lucky enough to see him play every Davis Cup match he’s played. I’ve seen him go out there when really everything was stacked against him, and he goes out there and gives it 110%. To be honest, to beat [Rafael] Nadal on clay in Spain is not going to be easy. He’s sort of willing to go out there and take one for the team, as you might say. So I’m not surprised, but I’m impressed with the stand he’s taken.”
Roddick was the defending champion this week in Dubai.
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