Tennis

Roddick fuming over ATP doubles ruling

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ROME

Andy Roddick was prowling the corridors at the Rome Masters on Sunday, incensed that he and Mardy Fish were going to be docked $42,800 — a share of the prize money they earned for their unexpected arrival in the doubles final because he was unfit to play.

An ultrasound on the right shoulder of the former world No. 1 and three-time Wimbledon finalist showed a buildup of fluid, which required a few days' rest, but Roddick was told that unless he and Fish fulfilled their commitment, they would be paid only what they would have received for reaching the semifinals. Roddick officially withdrew at 5 p.m. local time Sunday.

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That at least gave Fish, as well as John Isner and Sam Querrey — their opponents in an all-American final — an opportunity to catch the only flight Sunday night from Rome to Dusseldorf, where the three players are representing the United States in the ATP's World Team Cup on Monday and where the organizers were threatening sanctions if they did not turn up in time to play.

Roddick was talked out of convening a news conference, but he asked The (London) Times to be present in the ATP office when he rebuked officials over a rule that reads, "Should a doubles match be uncontested or fail to be completed, the losing team shall only receive points and prize money from the previous round," which contained three provisos, none of which was applicable in this particular case.

No one was prepared to bend, which meant that the world No. 12 had to decide whether to play, which seriously could have undermined his French Open prospects, or take the prize money deduction and docking of ranking points on the chin and then appeal against the rule.

"We're going to have to beg for the money we've earned," Roddick said. "Why should Mardy be punished when I can't play? Mardy has played the (semifinal) match, he won the match, he earned the money, you can't take away something he has already done. This is embarrassing for the tour.

"The ATP people said they could not make a unilateral decision, so I either take a chance with the appeal process or I played with a shoulder that didn't give us much chance of winning and had a risk for the future.

"I would have had to play the full match. I asked if I played a point and then withdrew what would happen and they said the same thing, so it would have been an hour mockery as opposed to a five-minute mockery. The ATP stands for Association of Tennis Professionals; it should be the Association of Tie People."

The ATP said that it has to govern for all and that the rule was brought in a few years ago to deter players who were abandoning official doubles events without good cause to go off and play other lucrative matches.

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