Israel Tennis Champ Quits in Middle of Match
Dudi Sela was one set away from reaching an ATP Tour semifinal,
but with Yom Kippur about to commence the 32-year-old Israeli,
ranked No. 77 in the world, withdrew from his quarterfinal match against
Alexandr Dolgopolov in Shenzhen, China.
He asked for his match in Shenzhen on Sept. 29 to start as early as possible
to reduce the chance of having to stop due to Yom Kippur. But his showdown
with Dolgopolov was scheduled as the second match on center court, and
he was always going to have trouble completing it after the first contest
of the day lasted two hours and 16 minutes.
After losing the first set 6-3, Sela tied the match with a 6-4 win in
the second set, but while trailing 1-0 in the decider, and with Yom Kippur
about to begin in Shenzhen, he approached the chair umpire and told him
that he needed to retire.
Reaching the semifinals would have earned Sela an additional $12,000
to the almost $30,000 he had already guaranteed himself by advancing to
the last-eight. It also cost him at least 45 ranking points, and of course
the chance to go even further in the tournament.
Sela wasnt the only Israeli athlete whose plans were affected by
the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Israels only NBA player,
Omri Casspi, was set to make his preseason debut with the Golden State
Warriors against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, but he sat out the game
due to Yom Kippur.
While Sela didnt comment on his withdrawal from the singles in
Shenzhen, his older brother Ofer provided some insight on Dudis
Dudi isnt a religious man and he doesnt always fast
on Yom Kippur. This was the first time in his career he was forced to
make this decision. His excruciating choice effects his ATP ranking and
cost him tens of thousands of dollars, wrote Ofer Sela. No
one forced him to pull out. He didnt do it because he was afraid
of anyone, or because he was asked to. He did it only because he respects
Yom Kippur and the country which he represents.
Condensed from an article in the Jerusalem Post on Oct. 1, 2017, by