Schuettler trades volleys with tennis federation
BEIJING (AP) Rainer Schuettler and the International Tennis Federation traded indignant e-mails and accusations Friday over the German player's disputed entry into the Olympic tournament in Beijing.
The Wimbledon semifinalist wrote an open letter to the head of the sport's governing body demanding an apology over the ITF's reaction to his successful challenge in the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a spot in the men's singles draw in Beijing.
"I find the statement shocking, harming and damaging to my reputation due to the inaccuracy of its content," Schuettler wrote in the letter to ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti.
The ITF, which originally said it deplored the CAS decision, countered with another statement in the hours leading up to the opening ceremony, saying: "There are so many inaccuracies in Mr. Schuettler's open letter that it would be impossible for us to respond to each of his allegations."
The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday upheld Schuettler's request that the ITF enter him into the men's singles competition, finding that he was among the top players eligible for the games, and that the German national Olympic committee had the discretion to enter the players of its choice.
Schuettler, who reached the 2003 Australian Open final, missed direct entry to the 64-man draw because he was ranked 89th on the June 9 deadline for entries.
He was ranked No. 34 coming into the Olympics after a run to the Wimbledon semis, where he lost to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.
The German Olympic committee, which supported Schuettler's petition, entered Nicolas Kiefer and Schuettler but did not nominate Denis Gremelmayr and Michael Berrer, who were both ranked higher than Schuettler in the rankings on June 9. Kiefer and Schuettler combined to win the doubles silver medal at the 2004 Olympics.
The ITF said it was "very disturbing" that players who did not meet a qualification criteria approved by the ITF and the International Olympic Committee "are entered at the expense of players who qualified and deserve to represent their countries at the 2008 Olympic Games."
"While recognizing that the German NOC may not understand how professional tennis works, there is no excuse for Mr. Schuettler, who is prepared to take a place that was earned by his compatriot Denis Gremelmayr and of next alternate Michael Berrer."
In a reply released by Schuettler's management, the 32-year-old player said he was very disappointed with the ITF for not accepting the umpire's decision.
"The ITF lost at the highest Olympic court and it seems you don't accept it," he said. "The ITF has proven not to be able to set up clear rules for the Olympic event and instead you blame other sport organizations for this fact."
Schuettler, who was president of the ATP Player Council during the Athens Olympics, said the ITF had not mismanaged the last three Olympic tournaments.
"I personally mentioned to you in Athens to pay attention in the future events so that they don't occur again in the future. Where are we now?" he wrote. "My appeal to CAS in Beijing never tried to prevent the participation of any of my colleagues ranked higher than me.
"The ITF's official statement is false, includes wrong facts and this shows lack of respect for me as for my colleagues and the Olympic court."
The ITF said it had worked for four years to establish an appropriate qualification process, and certain national Olympic committees "decided not to honor our criteria."
"In the case of Germany, that meant that Denis Gremelmayr, a direct acceptance on the ITF list, and Michael Berrer, on the alternate list, were not entered by their NOC," the ITF said. "Contrary to Mr. Schuettler's claims, Mr. Berrer was always included on the alternate list and no player ranked lower than Mr. Berrer was entered into the Olympic Tennis Event until after the CAS hearing.
"Perhaps if Mr. Schuettler and Mr. Berrer had been more supportive over the last six weeks when the ITF was trying to convince the DOSB to enter their colleague Mr. Gremelmayr, our work on behalf of the players would have been much easier," the ITF said, using the acronym for the German Olympic committee.
The tennis competition starts Sunday. Schuettler faces Japanese wild card entry Kei Nishikori in the first round.