I wrote our dear friend an email
I am not normally one to write to journalists commenting on their articles, but your latest got me fired up enough to do so. You portray Andy Roddick as an evil selfish guy who was toying with your city and the Tennis Channel Open tournament. Before your blasting article that borders on defamatory, did you even take the time to look up the facts? Roddick played an almost 4-hour Davis Cup match 2 weekends ago. He threw up multiple times on court and had to have multiple IV treatments after the match. 2 days later and not 100% recovered, he came back out and won a match to send the USA to the next round. But two days later, he had flown to San Jose and played 4 matches there in 5 days. Then just 3 days after that, he played 3 more matches - all of which were over 2 hours in length and exhausting - in Memphis. Is it so hard to believe that these matches took a toll on him physically? When he committed to Davis Cup and these tournaments months ago, do you think he could possibly have had the foresight to know what was going to happen and to know how his body and mind would feel? These guys play almost 11 months out of the year and people depend on them - sponsors, tournaments, fans, etc. Do they really want to risk their careers by playing in a small tournament when they are tired? If you knew anything about tennis - or even sports in general - you would know that the likelihood of injury is far greater when a player is tired.
Do you play tennis, or even know anything about it? Do you know what playing that much and traveling that much does to the body - and the MIND? How can you judge him? Would you and your esteemed mayor have preferred that he showed up listless and exhausted only to lose in the first rounds? Wouldn't the fans have been just as disappointed? If it's so easy, why don't you and the Mayor step in and play. It's not Roddick's fault that he pulled out in plenty of time (officially slated at Thursday night, to be exact) and the tournament organization failed to publicize it until Sunday - that is the tournament's fault.
And you know what, most fans are pretty understanding. I had tickets to last summer's tournament in Los Angeles - an event the same size as the one starting in Las Vegas today. The day the draw was made, Roddick pulled out - for no apparent reason. Sure I was disappointed for a day, but I went to the tournament anyway and had a fantastic time and saw lots of wonderful tennis. Tennis fans, unlike yourself and unlike the Mayor, understand that these players are only human and can't be playing machines every single week. Perhaps Roddick made a mistake in ever committing to the tournament, perhaps he and his team should have had better foresight about what playing 4 weeks in a row would do to him. But that's a MISTAKE, not an intentional act to lie to the Vegas tournament. He's only human.
What strikes me is that the tournament organization doesn't share the same outrage as you and your mayor. But yet, you assume Mr. Bellamy is lying and that he shares yours and the Mayor's mean-spirited feelings. Why would he lie? He does not want to antagonize Roddick - who not only may play this tournament in the future but appears on his television network all the time. Perhaps that is because Mr. Bellamy actually played - and understands - tennis and understands that sometimes top players are simply exhausted and need the week off. What a concept! Moreover, where is your outrage that Andre Agassi chose to accept a half-million+ appearance fee to play in DUBAI instead of in his supposedly beloved home city? To me, that's just as outrageous than a player making the difficult decision to pull out of a tournament.
You and the Mayor made it sound like he was intentionally slighting your city and the tournament. Do you think he (and his handlers) are that stupid? He was well aware that the tournament was using him to promote itself and that he was a big asset to a small tournament. It is the exact loyalty that YOU mistakenly said he was devoid of that explains why he returns to cities like San Jose, Memphis, and Houston every year - they helped him out when he was just a kid in 2001 and he feels like he has a DUTY to keep returning.
As for your Mayor's disgusting comments... if he checked the record books, he'd know that last time Roddick played Hewitt, he is the one who did the butt-kicking.
I'm ashamed and disgusted by this article and your mayor's comments - both of you could have researched the FACTS and analyzed the situation under a much fairer and equal viewpoint, but instead you chose to assume the worst about a guy who started a charitable foundation when he was 17, who risks his own career to keep commitments to charity exhibitions and other smaller tournaments that his schedule would perhaps be better without. You failed to research the fact that just last November, he injured his back in Paris and not 2 days later he appeared in Hershey, Pennsylvania playing a charity exhibition. He later had to withdraw from the prestigious year-ending championships because of that back injury, but he sucked it up enough to perform for the fans at that exhibition. You called him a disloyal liar and did not even stop to think that he may have had valid reasons for withdrawing from this tournament. You assumed that he was lying all along about playing, yet you have no factual basis for that accusatory statement. I thought the plight of journalists was to divulge the TRUTH. One cannot divulge the truth without first investigating the facts, and your bitter column proves quite plainly that you were either too lazy or incapable of checking the facts before you went and defamed someone who has done as much for the sport of tennis in this country as anyone has in a very long time.
As a new Los Angeles resident, I was waiting for the time that I would be able to make it to Vegas, where so many people have told me I'd have a good time. However, if this is the kind of shoddy journalism and embarrassing mayor that your city has to present to the general public, I think I'll save my money and take a vacation elsewhere. And I sure hope that Andy Roddick has seen your column and that he never steps foot in your city again.
Los Angeles, CA