Of all tennis players on the short list to cause controversy, Ivan Ljubicic would not be one to ping on the radar. Ljubicic, long respected by his peers, was an active member of the ATP Player’s Council beginning in 2002 who was elected Vice President from 2004-06 and President from 2006-08. In August 2008, he was elected as European player representative on ATP Board. Since retiring earlier this year however, Ljubicic has become a somewhat keyboard warrior. He has not hesitated to criticize the current goings on in professional tennis.
When he took to Twitter over the weekend to criticize the “absences” of top Americans from the clay court ATP Masters Series events in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome, Ljubicic got much more than he bargained for.
Mardy Fish, ranked #9 on the ATP, has been sidelined since Houston with an illness that forced him out of Davis Cup, Madrid and Rome. Andy Roddick has been nursing a recurring hamstring injury since the Australian Open and a hip injury since Miami.
Needless to say, Ljubicic touched a nerve. John Isner was first to come to the defense of his friend and countryman Fish.
Mardy Fish probably wishes he thought a little bit more before pressing that tweet button.
Although Fish deleted his Tweet immediately, we all know everything is forever immortalized on the Internet. Just ask Donald Young.
Andy Roddick finally weighed in on Sunday.
While American men have a history of underperforming and withdrawing from clay events in recent years, Ljubicic should have done his homework this time around. Roddick and Fish have been the only two notable American absentees, and John Isner, Ryan Harrison and Donald Young have all made the trip to compete on the European clay.
Late Sunday night, Ljubicic tried to rectify matters.
In an Olympic year, it’s understandable that players want to be healthy to peak at the right time to have success in the biggest events. While Roddick, Fish and James Blake have all had a history of lackluster and listless clay court performances over the years, 2012 proves to be a year when they actually can’t compete, rather than one when they just won’t.