Remember that furore over Ana not receiving a wildcard at Montreal? Well…
Ana has declined a wild card into the main draw of the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Montreal, which begins on Sunday. The 2006 champion had her initial request turned down several weeks ago, but tournament director Eugene Lapierre contacted Ana’s management company on Tuesday with the new invitation.
Explaining her decision, Ana said: “I would have loved to have played in Montreal, but I was quite hurt by the comments of Mr Lapierre that I was shown in The Montreal Gazette recently.
“I don’t think his comments were necessary, and they contradicted everything he had told my management previously: that I was not getting a wild card because I am not Canadian.
“The fact that my original request was turned down isn’t really an issue: I would have been happy to play qualifying, but I felt that they kind of stepped over the line with this interview, making public our correspondence and even misrepresenting it. Unfortunately I don’t feel welcome at this tournament.”
And here’s an excerpt of Lapierre’s (tournie director) words from the Montreal Gazette article that caused Ana upset:
"The way I analyzed it was that, yes, she's a player who has done a lot for our tournament -almost saved it one year. She has a lot of charisma. Everyone likes her. But the fact is that she hasn't demonstrated (with her play) that she deserves a wild card," he said yesterday.
"It's not the same as a player who has been injured and away for a while. ... She is the one who dropped down to No. 65, not because of an injury."
"If we didn't already have the best players in the world, if we didn't get all the players we think we can get, my choice would certainly be for the wild cards to go to international players, because you want to sell the attraction," Lapierre said. "But we have them, so it's normal to give the chance to young players."
When you're struggling with your confidence as much as she is, the best cure is to win tennis matches. Unseeded, the 22-year-old Serb could very easily run into a top player in the first round, lose, and be no further ahead.
"If I were her coach, I'd force her to play qualies," Lapierre said.
Unprofessional? Certainly. Overstepping the mark? Quite probably.
But can we really argue he’s not calling it as it is?
Just to be clear, I don’t actually like the tone of the article and that last comment from Lapierre is uncalled for and, in any case, not for the public domain.
But let’s not forget that Ana won the title here four years ago – that’s almost half a tennis career for some players.
Why shouldn’t they award the WC to a hot local favourite??
Let’s also not forget that the article sounds like it was prompted by fan backlash at the tournament’s initial decision to pass her over – it’s not as if Lapierre went seeking an interview.
Would it have been better not to comment? Absolutely.
And to that extent, Ana’s quite right to call them out for it, especially if, as she appears to be suggesting, they misrepresented what she saw as private communication.
Feel free to get up in arms on her behalf over that – not some perceived slight over a WC, which in any case would be more fittingly answered by going through qualies and then making a splash in the main draw.