Dudi Sela has taken a swipe at the Israeli sporting establishment following his omission from the country’s Olympic delegation for the Beijing Games.
Sela needed to survive the early stages at Wimbledon in order to earn a late reprieve, having dropped down the world rankings.
After citing “a lack of concentration” as the reason for his straight sets first round defeat to Belgium’s Olivier Rochus, the player launched a scathing attack against the Israeli Tennis Federation.
“I didn’t play well,” Sela acknowledged. “He played much better than me on the important points. Today I wasn’t concentrating. I don’t know why. I was really not at the game.”
His preparations were hampered after the Israel Olympic Committee refused to accept the recommendation of the Israel Tennis Federation that he deserves an unconditional place in Israel’s squad at the Olympics.
“I knew two days before Wimbledon that I wouldn’t be going to the Olympics as I wasn’t inside the top 50 ranked players. They said I still had a chance because they b******t.
“I met the International Olympic Committee’s criteria, but they don’t want to send me and I don’t understand why. It’s not like I’m 500th in the world, I’m 60th. When Nicolas Massu won the Olympics, he was ranked 70th so it shows anything can happen. I want to go and be the first Israeli to play in the men’s singles for 20 years. Israel’s Olympic Committee don’t know what they’re doing. Hopefully I will make the 2012 London Olympics.
Sela opined that “the state of Israeli tennis is terrible. After me there is no one. It’s really tough to make it in Israel as we have no tournaments. The Israel Tennis Centre has a lot of money but CEO Janine Strauss is using the money in the wrong way. She pays Brad Gilbert and other people $100,000 just to turn up.
“They have to make some tournaments and bring in good coaches — not just to say Brad Gilbert or Sharapova was in Israel.”
Prior to Wimbledon, Sela had enjoyed a successful year. “There are still parts of my game that I need to improve on. I think the top 10 is a different level but my goal is to break into the top 40.”
Responding to Sela’s criticisms, Vardit Eshel from the Israel Tennis Centre voiced surprise at comments “which are inaccurate and irresponsible. This is particularly in light of the fact that the Israel Tennis Centre gave him financial and other support over the years to develop his tennis. We have worked very hard to bring back a major tournament and in July, for the first time in many years, are holding a $50,000 prize money Challenger Tournament.
“Most top Israelis are playing — Dudi Sela chose not to participate. He should have disclosed this fact before showing his ingratitude to the non-profit organisation that has promoted sport and education for 30 years in Israel.”
Brad Gilbert will end his association with the Lawn Tennis Association in September. Gilbert, the former coach of Andrew Murray, will have earned an estimated £1.3 million since taking the role in 2006.