Jews & Sports

from Big Mo's Sports Desk

Israel Tennis Champ Quits in Middle of Match

Dudi Sela was one set away from reaching an ATP Tour semifinal, but with Yom Kippur about to commence the 32-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 77 in the world, withdrew from his quarterfinal match against Alexandr Dolgopolov in Shenzhen, China.

He asked for his match in Shenzhen on Sept. 29 to start as early as possible to reduce the chance of having to stop due to Yom Kippur. But his showdown with Dolgopolov was scheduled as the second match on center court, and he was always going to have trouble completing it after the first contest of the day lasted two hours and 16 minutes.

After losing the first set 6-3, Sela tied the match with a 6-4 win in the second set, but while trailing 1-0 in the decider, and with Yom Kippur about to begin in Shenzhen, he approached the chair umpire and told him that he needed to retire.

Reaching the semifinals would have earned Sela an additional $12,000 to the almost $30,000 he had already guaranteed himself by advancing to the last-eight. It also cost him at least 45 ranking points, and of course the chance to go even further in the tournament.

Sela wasn’t the only Israeli athlete whose plans were affected by the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Israel’s only NBA player, Omri Casspi, was set to make his preseason debut with the Golden State Warriors against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, but he sat out the game due to Yom Kippur.

While Sela didn’t comment on his withdrawal from the singles in Shenzhen, his older brother Ofer provided some insight on Dudi’s decision.

“Dudi isn’t a religious man and he doesn’t always fast on Yom Kippur. This was the first time in his career he was forced to make this decision. His excruciating choice effects his ATP ranking and cost him tens of thousands of dollars,” wrote Ofer Sela. “No one forced him to pull out. He didn’t do it because he was afraid of anyone, or because he was asked to. He did it only because he respects Yom Kippur and the country which he represents.”



Condensed from an article in the Jerusalem Post on Oct. 1, 2017, by Allon Sinai.

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