Dubai is Innocent, Says Dubai
Next year the WTA Dubai event will not be able to make a last-minute power play due to the multiple restrictions set upon the tournament by the WTA Tour ($2 million down payment on assurance that all qualified players accepted into the draw, all visas cleared well in advance, etc.), but if the post-tournament decisions coming out of Dubai are any indication, the issue is far from resolved.
The WTA levied a $300,000 fine against the Dubai event for denying Shahar Peer a visa to play the tournament, a fine Dubai officials are appealing.
“We don’t see it as quite fair. The rules of the WTA state that the tournament should make every effort to get visas for the players, and we did make every effort,” said Colm McLoughlin, the managing director of Dubai Duty Free. “There are other parts in the letter regarding the posting of a $2 million bond for the prize money in advance. We are not too happy about that because we have proved that we are good payers in the past.”
No one is questioning the money-laden event’s ability to pay prize money — the event hands out more than the total prize money in under-the-table appearances fees alone. Dubai officials know this. It’s rather the WTA setting themselves up in an enforcers role to still collect if they have to pull the plug on the event in 2010 in the event of another last-minute “visa problem.”
It’s a lot of continued bending of the truth, which is still worrying the WTA. The Dubai event stated, “We did make every effort to get the visa [for Peer],” which is a joke, as the tournament touts itself “Under the patronage of the Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai.”
When the Ruler of Dubai wants a visa problem fast-tracked, it’s a snap of the fingers. And when he doesn’t…it doesn’t happen, and it didn’t.
“Believe me, it will never happen again,” a hopeful Billie Jean King told The Associated Press. “We won’t be there, I can guarantee you that. Our sport has to set an example of freedom and equality.”
That it does, which makes it difficult when one of your largest tour sponsors also runs a tournament which is willing to push the envelope in making its own rules — even after being reprimanded. Dubai is appealing the fine, without fear of losing their event.
“In my opinion there is no danger that the tournament will be pulled,” McLoughlin says.
This Swiss Isn’t Neutral
They won’t have world No. 2 Roger Federer, but the Swiss could have a minor surprise for the U.S. this weekend in Davis Cup play at Birmingham, Ala. in the form of Marco Chiudinelli.
Ranked No. 341 currently due to injuries throughout 2007 and 2008, Chiudinelli has a history of Davis Cup heroics. Spain was shocked by the current 27-year-old back in 2007 when Chiudinelli beat both Fernando Verdasco and David Ferrer in a Davis Cup opening-round tie.
“That was just two weeks before I had to stop because of my knee injury,” he said. “Definitely good memories playing at home, beating those two guys.”
If inserted at the No. 2 spot for Switzerland behind 2008 Top 10-ranked Stan Wawrinka, Chiudinelli will have a chance to shock Andy Roddick and James Blake. Neither of the Top 2 Americans have faced Chiudinelli in the Swiss’ more than eight years as a pro.
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