x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Ivan Ljubicic must think before he tweets

Former world No 3 put his foot in his mouth by criticising American players for skipping European tournaments, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

Ivan Ljubicic, seen here in action late last year, has been known to express his views on several occasions in the past. Jean-Christophe Verhaegen / AFP
Ivan Ljubicic, seen here in action late last year, has been known to express his views on several occasions in the past. Jean-Christophe Verhaegen / AFP

Ivan Ljubicic was never known for his tact during his time as the president of the ATP Player Council.

The Croatian had strong views on various issues and was never shy of voicing his opinions publicly. The recently retired former world No 3 continues to ruffle feathers.

Ljubicic took to Twitter earlier this month to criticise American men for skipping the European clay-court season. "Wonder how our tour would look if European players were skipping American tourneys the way Americans are skipping European tournaments," he wrote.

A few years earlier, when the likes of Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and James Blake regularly missed the clay court season, Ljubicic's criticism would have been on the mark but now it misses the facts.

There were three Americans at the Madrid Masters - the US No 1 John Isner, Donald Young and the wild card Ryan Harrison.

Isner and Young were also present in Rome, while Sam Querrey came to the main draw through the qualifiers. Those are four of the seven Americans in the ATP top 100.

Two others, Fish and Roddick, have been battling illness and injuries, while Blake, the world No 98, is probably not ranked high enough to make it to these tournaments.

Fish has not played since April, sidelined with an illness that forced him out of the Davis Cup, while Roddick has not made an appearance on court since March as the former world No 1 tries to heal and protect a hamstring injury he sustained at the Australian Open.

Given these facts, the reactions from the Americans to Ljubicic's tweet were swift. "@IvanLjubicic1 Pretty sure mardy fish is sick," wrote Isner.

"@IvanLjubicic1 Some of us aren't skipping tournaments bc [because] we want to. Do ur [your] homework before u make dumb generalized comments," replied an angry Fish, who deleted his tweet later.

Roddick also weighed in on the controversy saying: "I know for a fact that @MardyFish is going through some serious physical issues right now ... Irresponsible tweet by @IvanLjubicic1. Also I definitely always respect the choices of ATP tour veterans because I know all of us do what's in the best interest of our health and our careers ... I expect the same in return."

Ljubicic, who retired from the professional circuit last month, tried to make peace a day after his original tweet, apologising to anyone he might have offended.

"My tweet regarding American & European players was to open the discussion rather than offend somebody," he wrote. "But I see some people got offended and I am sorry for that. Wasn't the plan. And I definitely wish @MardyFish fast recovery!!!”

arizvi@thenational.ae

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