Concerns for Jaziri after forced Tashkent withdrawal
The Tunisian Ministry of Sport and Tunisian Tennis Federation have forced Arab No1 player Malek Jaziri to withdraw from his quarter-final match in Tashkent against Israel’s Amir Weintraub.
The Challenger match was scheduled to take place on Friday at 10:00am (local time) but Jaziri, who had defeated Roger Federer’s Wimbledon conqueror Sergiy Stakhovsky in straight sets in the previous round, pulled out before it started.
Jaziri’s brother, Amir Jaziri, who has been speaking on his behalf in this matter, told Tunisian radio station Shems FM, that Malek has been ordered not to play by the sports authorities back home despite him explaining to them that he can face sanctions from the tour which can affect his future in tennis.
Amir Jaziri said: “Malek received an email from the Federation telling him they’ve met with people from the Ministry of Sport and they ordered Malek not to play this match.
“Now we are hoping that this will not affect his future. We hope the ministry can give us assurance that nothing will harm Malek but I guess they can’t.
“Today this issue is putting too much pressure on Malek. People are calling him, messaging him and posting comments on Facebook…He had to switch off his phone.
“Can you imagine even if he had to play? He has been under a lot of pressure. It’s not easy for him to prepare for a match and be mentally ready for it.”
Malek Jaziri, currently ranked No169 in the world, had the chance to rise up to around No135 in the rankings had he captured the title in Tashkent.
Both Jaziri and Weintraub belonged to the same club in France, AASS Sarcelles Tennis, and have known each other for years through the sport.
Retired Tunisian player, and the only Arab woman to be ranked in the WTA top-100, Selima Sfar, said she understood the difficult situation Jaziri was put in by his own government and federation, who provide some financial support to him.
But the 36-year-old said she believes he should have played the match.
“I love and respect Malek dearly but he should have put his foot down and played,” Sfar told Sport360°.
“He is a professional and he must take control of his own career. In my day I played all players of different nationalities alike and I never cared to ask for permission to face anyone.
“But also I never got any support from my federation and never depended on them, so I understand that he was in a tough spot because he gets some help from them.”
Following Jaziri’s withdrawal, Weintraub will now face Teymuraz Gabashvili in the semi-finals in Tashkent.
* You can contact the author of this story on @ReemAbulleil.