The Middle East has been the focus of the tennis world during the last three weeks with standout fields in Doha and Dubai, but despite making frequent attempt to produce notable pro players, the region has frequently come up empty.
In Dubai, the 29-year-old Tunisian Malik Jaziri did put a brief scare into Roger Federer in the first round, but the area hasn’t had any very good player since Moroccans Younes El Aynaoui and Hicham Arazi. El Aynaoui reached the Dubai final in 2002. According to the National, since 2001, 15 wild cards have been given to players from the Arabian Gulf since, but only Mohammed Al Ghareeb of Kuwait has managed to avoid a straight-sets defeat.
The United Arab Emirates’ Omar Awadhy has received nine wild cards for his home tournament since 2001, but he has struggled against players ranked inside the top 100 and has yet to win a set.
“At the beginning, I used to put a lot of pressure on myself,” said Awadhy. With time, you realize, you know, what can you do? I can’t refuse the wild card. At the same time, I’m realistic enough to say that these guys are much better than me. They’re much, much better than me.”
The Australian Alison Lee, who is executive vice-president of the ATP’s International Group, which covers Asia, Australasia, Russia and the Middle East, told the newspaper that she isn’t sure why there has been a lack of progression.
“The passion for the game is there, definitely, but when you look at the young up and coming players, there is a not the massive population,” she said. “There are so many elements you need to bring together. Here you have players –and it’s the same in Doha – but it’s hard. Everyone is looking for the magic answer, but it’s difficult. In Australia, we have a small population, but we have managed to produce some great champions. You never know when someone will come forward with a great passion to play.”
©Daily Tennis News Wire