trophy for Djokovic

[correction appended]


I’ve had a weird weekend. It’s been all about depression. Not my own but our current understanding of it.

First there was the review of a book which concludes that we are not, contrary to popular opinion, overmedicating our children with Ritalin, Prozac, etc. And this is despite the fact that the author went into the book convinced otherwise.

Then an article by Louis Menand in The New Yorker about the medicalization of depression. Studies show no discernible difference in recovery between people who take antidepressants versus those that get therapy but, Menand asks, would you really want to take a pill to avoid mourning the loss of a loved one? No, I would not.

And now, an article in the New York Times suggesting that treating depression with antidepressants can take away a valuable opportunity to solve difficult problems in our lives. Reminds me of my friends who skip the depression of ending a relationship by immediately jumping into another one thus keeping themselves in an endless pattern of bad relationships because they learn absolutely nothing from their past mistakes. Honestly, the only thing keeping me from doing the same thing is my difficulty in finding dates.

According to the last article, a helpful treatment for mild depression is writing a personal essay about your feelings. I’m depressed about Dubai. I’m going to write about it.


Roger Federer didn’t show up in Dubai, neither did Rafael Nadal, and though Andy Murray did, he used it as a practice session for the slams and went out in the second round.

Juan Martin Del Potro has a wrist injury as does Nikolay Davydenko. Novak Djokovic isn’t sure he wants to be number one. He pulled out the title over Mikhail Youzhny today in three sets but he has a ton of points to defend in the coming months and doesn’t look up to the task.

Most depressing of all: Dubai was presented with the award for the 2009 ATP World Tour 500 Tournament of the Year.

Let me think about this for a minute. Dubai refused entry to Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich in 2008 though we don’t know why because neither the players, nor their management, nor the tournament, nor the ATP would talk about it. Dubai refused entry to Shahar Peer in 2009 because, the tournament organizers said, they couldn’t guarantee Peer’s safety.

One week later Andy Ram was given a visa to play in the men’s event and thus Dubai is crowned tournament of the year.

Dubai takes care of its players. It’s a rich tournament that plays hefty appearance fees and it has great attendance, but what was the ATP thinking? The ATP and WTA may have played their diplomatic cards correctly by allowing the men and women’s events in Dubai to continue in 2008 and 2009 after players were denied entry. Clearly they were successful because Ram got his visa and Peer played in this year’s event.

But the timing of this award makes it look like the ATP is rewarding Dubai for something it should have done long ago. And it’s not like Dubai doesn’t feel loved. This is its sixth Tournament of the Year award and 14th ATP award. I can’t imagine the players are happy about this and there are three player representatives on the ATP Board of Directors. Were they consulted?
[correction: Scratch that. The players vote on their favorite tournament and this is the one they choose. Now I can be mad at the players too. What were they thinking?]

The sports world can’t help but find itself smack dab in the middle of the world’s political conflicts. Last year alone the Davis Cup match between Israel and Sweden had to be played to an empty stadium due to widespread protests in Sweden, and Australia refused to play in India after terrorists attacked Mumbai in late 2008.

This is a tough thing for the tennis world to negotiate and there are no easy answers. But the Tournament of the Year award should have been easy. The ATP should have had the spine to give it to someone else.

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