His name won’t mean much to sporadic tennis followers, but Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi will contend along with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer for the prize named after Stefan Edberg. Mauro Cappiello, founder and admin of STE…fans, the best Edberg tribute site on the web, explains why, in his opinion, he actually is the ideal winner.

At the end of last month, the nominees for the 2011 ATP Sportsmanship Award were made, so it will be Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi who will contend for the prestigious prize that was named after Stefan Edberg, once he retired from professional tennis back in 1996. With a disputable choice, the ATP decided to name a player unknown by large audiences like Pakistan’s doubles specialist Qureshi, together with three of the top four guys in the world singles ranking. But, even though his name won’t mean much to sporadic tennis followers and even though he will probably be overwhelmed by the other three contenders in the votations made by fellow members of the ATP World Tour, STE…fans wants to back Qureshi as the only deserving winner of the Award.

A career devoted to sports and peace
Considered he’s not an elite player, the 31-year-old man from Pakistan has done in terms of sportsmanship through the years (and not only in 2011) much more than what the other players have done combined. Through his sport, he’s gone beyond prejudice and discrimination from his country, promoting tennis as a mean for overcoming political barriers among different nations, which is the supreme way of “conducting at the highest level of professionalism and with the utmost spirit of fairness”, as specified in the award motivation.

After turning professional in 1998, Qureshi first came in the news in 2002, when he decided to partner Israeli Amir Hadad in Wimbledon and US Open doubles tournaments, despite the “cold relationships” that have always run between their two countries. This earned him and his doubles mate an Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year Award for 2002. A prize that Qureshi also won last year, together with his current doubles partner, Indian Rohan Bopanna (by the way, where is his nominee for the 2011 Edberg Award?), another player from a country Pakistan has stormy relationships with.

In 2010, Aisam and Rohan have created a campaign, Stop War Start Tennis, with the aim of playing a tennis match in Wagah, on the border joining India and Pakistan, with both players on either side of the border.

The “Sportsmanship Award” is not the “Player of the Year Award”
There’s no need to add more to indicate Qureshi not only as the ideal winner of the award for this year, but also as the man who could reverse a trend that, in recent years, has seen the ATP give the prize not to the real sportsman of the year, but to the player with the best results in the season.

This has clearly happened in 2009 and 2010, for example, when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal respectively have been voted “Sportsman of the Year”, when, in our humble opinion, they wouldn’t have either deserved a nominee. And let me remind you that, if it’s the other players who vote the winner, it’s the ATP who makes the nominees.

At the same time, it’s quite strange that, since 2004, the prize has gone to the year-end number one or two. Is it really so hard to find a true sportsman out of the top of men’s tennis? In our opinion, it’s a scandal that sportsmen like Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick didn’t get a nominee. Still they are American, so from a nation that gets high visibility, and are ranked or have been ranked in the top ten.

The impression is that the ATP is using this award to pump up the popularity of the most prominent players rather than to promote the fair spirit of tennis and positive behaviors by its protagonists, in and off court.

Questionable winners
We strongly believe that there should be an episode or a series of episodes to justify the nominee for a certain year and this has not happened recently.

In these two videos, you can see Roger Federer smash a racquet in frustration in Miami and speak roughly to the chair umpire in the US Open final against Juan Martin Del Potro.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-e-Ud-ly04[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZB9JfhzLzE[/youtube]

Those episodes both happened in 2009, when he was voted “Sportsman of the year”, overcoming the nominees of Ivan Ljubicic, Jarkko Nieminem and Carlos Moya. Generally speaking, Roger Federer is certainly a sportsman who has done a lot for tennis, in and off-court. He also has Stefan Edberg’s endorsement. After the two met last year in Stockholm, Stefan said: «He’s very smooth and easygoing, so I think he’s a great, great, great guy for tennis in general, I think both on and off the court». But, the fact that he is named every year, even when he doesn’t deserve it, just because he is Roger Federer, is ridiculous.

This other video shows Rafael Nadal vividly contest a decision by the umpire at the London ATP World Tour Finals, after the Hawk-Eye had shown his indication of a ball out was wrong.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJgYfTmzuYw[/youtube]

Earlier in Wimbledon, he was (rightly) accused by his third round opponent Philipp Petzschner of requesting a “strategic” medical time out when down two sets to one. Both episodes happened in 2010, when the Spaniard was voted “Sportsman of the Year”, overcoming the nominees of Marin Cilic (?), Taylor Dent and Roger Federer.

None of us who witnessed Stefan Edberg’s career needs to be reminded that Stefan never talked roughly to an umpire, never smashed a racquet in anger and never used a medical time out to escape a difficult score situation. That’s why the Sportsmanship Award was named after him and that’s why it should never be delivered to a player committing one of the above during a tennis season.

Vote for your 2011 Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award winner»

Article written by Mauro Cappiello, founder and admin of STE…fans – a tribute to Stefan Edberg.

Nice … shirts

2011 US Open Bloomingdale's Collection

2011 US Open Bloomingdale's Collection

2011 US Open Bloomingdale's Collection

2011 US Open Bloomingdale's Collection

2011 US Open Bloomingdale's Collection

2011 US Open Bloomingdale's Collection

2011 US Open Bloomingdale's Collection

Last tennis week by the numbers:

2010 Paris Bercy Masters: Novak Djokovic

24:
Novak Djokovic has now won every tournament entered this year: the Australian Open, Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami. 24 matches in a row. With the clay court season coming, will he maintain his high level of play?.

11:
Thanks to his semifinal at Miami, Mardy Fish rises to rank number 11. With Andy Roddick dropping down to world number 14, Fish is now the top ranked American player on the men’s tour.

Mardy Fish

6:
With her win in Miami Victoria Azarenka reaches a career-high No. 6 on the WTA rankings.
I’m really sorry for the people who had tickets for this high decibel final between Azarenka and Sharapova. Life of a tennis fan is sometimes really cruel.

9:
After a semifinal at Indian Wells and a final at Miami, Maria Sharapova is back in the Top 10 for the first time in more than two years, going from No.13 to No.9.

0:
Andy Murray has not won a single match since his semifinal win over David Ferrer at the Australian Open. He has split with part-time coaching consultant Alex Corretja. British press speculate about a future collaboration between Murray and Ivan Lendl.

1:
Win one copy of Top Spin 4, enter our Top Spin 4 Giveaway!

4:
Another tennis video game is coming soon: Virtua Tennis 4. Check out the trailer:

2010 US Open: day 6 recap

– Top stars Federer, Djokovic, Wozniacki and Sharapova breeze into fourth round. Only semi-surprise: 2008 runner-up Jelena Jankovic was ousted was 31th seed Kaia Kanepi.

US player of the day: Mardy Fish
It took him 3 1/2 hours and five sets, but Mardy Fish managed to advance to fouth round with his win over Arnaud Clément. It’s an awesome summer for him: he won in Newport (grass) and Atlanta (hard) and reached the final in Cincinnati (lost to Federer). Fish’s next opponent: Novak Djokovic.

Stat of the day: 3
Top seed Caroline Wozniacki only lost 3 games in 3 matches. The task should be harder in the 4th round where she’ll meet 2006 US Open champion Maria Sharapova.

Player of the day: Maria Sharapova
Sharapova double-bageled young american Beatrice Capra to advance to round 4.

Matches to follow on day 7:
4th round:
Ana Ivanovic(SRB) vs. Kim Clijsters(BEL)[2]
Samantha Stosur(AUS)[5] vs. Elena Dementieva(RUS)[12]
3rd round:
Mikhail Youzhny(RUS)[12] vs. John Isner(USA)[18]
Sam Querrey(USA)[20] vs. Nicolas Almagro(ESP)[14]
Andy Murray(GBR)[4] vs. Stanislas Wawrinka(SUI)[25]

Thanks to Jean-Matt, webmaster of toutsuragassi.com for his 2004 US Open story.
You want to share one of your stories? Please contact us.

It was back in 2004, I decided it was high time to go to the US Open and see Andre play “at home”. I asked other French fans if they were interested in coming with me. And there we went. A couple of days before the tournament we were eight people flying over the Atlantic ocean.

New York is a strange city. After a long drive from JFK (but it was in a limo, so that was not too long though ;-), we arrived in Manhattan. And even if it was our first time in NYC, there was something familiar about this place. We happened to see this city in movies, in series, and there are so many famous monuments there.

Times Square

Chrysler Builiding

Brooklyn Bridge

Anyway, we soon had to get prepared for our first day at Flushing Meadows : the Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day. I was surprised to see Andre so relaxed before the tournament. He really seemed to enjoy being there. He hit a few balls with Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish.

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish

In the “real” tournament, Andre’s first round was scheduled on the huge Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first night session. And it was against another American player : Robby Ginepri. The stadium was packed and there was a real friendly atmosphere in the stands. Any tennis fan should definitely go to the US Open.
2004 US Open: Ginepri - Agassi

2004 US Open: Ginepri - Agassi

2004 US Open: Ginepri - Agassi

The first set was tough, but Andre eventually won 7-6 6-4 6-2. He seemed to be in pretty good shape. And by the time we flew back to France, we didn’t know that he was going to make it to the quarterfinals and an incredible match against number one Roger Federer.