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By Richard Pagliaro - Shaken by the terrorist attacks on America and citing safety concerns over air travel, U.S. Open champion Venus Williams and third-ranked Lindsay Davenport both withdrew from next week's Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Tournament director Alexei Selivanenko, who was initially supportive of the players' decision, today criticized their concerns as "absurd."


"Moscow is the safest place in the world and any reference to a security reason not to play is absurd," Selivanenko said in an interview with Reuters. "Of course, we are all troubled by the events, but it is not our fault."

The tournament director was more sympathetic yesterday, saying: "We fully respect their concerns about traveling." But Selivanenko slammed both players for pulling out today.

Twelve of the top 20 women in the world are expected to play including top-ranked Martina Hingis, French Open finalist Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Nathalie Tauziat and Wimbledon runner-up Justine Henin, who has accepted a wild card into the main draw. Russian Internet icon Anna Kournikova, who has been sidelined for most of the year after sustaining a stress fracture in her left foot, is also expected to join the field. Kournikova, whose last match came at the Acura Classic in the summer, is scheduled to return to tournament tennis tomorrow in Leipzig, Germany.

For the second straight year, the men's and women's tournaments will be played simultaneously at the Kremlin Cup. In the past, the events were held two weeks apart.
 

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I may be wrong but I understood that the players had pulled out with concerns that if war does break out they could stop flights home to the US or whereever thus being stranded in a foreign country for god knows how long.

I didn't think it was because they were scared to fly.
 

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Normalacy is what is called for now. The rest of the tour is getting on with it, maybe they should too.
The World is calling for all of us to return to normal, that includes everyone. Prima donnas included.
 

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Adrian, what can't you get that many Americans are afraid of getting stuck in a foreign country when a war breaks out. It isn't just tennis players, it's the common American too. Haven't you noticed that no Americans are playing, not just Venus and Lindsay. Some are able to handle the situation better but others may be legitimately scared.
 

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I think that ANY player, particularly one from North America, should be giving a little grace and treated with a little sensitivity when it comes to pulling out of tournaments over the next month.

Obviously the director of the Kremlin Cup is going to be extremely vexed (its stressful enough organising a tournie without having star players pull-out - whatever their reason), but like Brian says, it's a little short-sighted to go slagging them off in that way.
 

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Stevenson is playing, Shaugnessy did not withdraw, neither did Raymond. It is just that those rich players are happy to use any excuse not to play. Davenport and Williams sisters played total of 2 Tier I events outside of North America , while they played much more North Americans Tier Is. They just ignore the rest of the world, and here they were even given a valid excuse to do so. Ah, forget about them, I am fed up with those big hitters anyway, saw enough of them at US Open..
 

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I think the player decitions should be respected.

Maybe the reason is not they are affraid to fly, the hole world is in war, and Bush is planning to attack who knows how... and they would be affraid of what Taliban people will do with this situation, You know revenge after revenge after revenge... this never ends.

If the American people supports their own goverment to attack a poor country, they may think this can generate new terrorist attacks.

We live in a paranoid world... I really hopes GOD bless Bush, in order to make it but sensible.

<IMG SRC="smilies/angel.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/angel.gif" border="0">
 

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jerk! HE DOESNT WANT THE PLAYERS TO BE CAUSIOUS ABOUT THEIR SAFETY OF AIR TRAVEL! WELL I PERSONALLY THINK THAT THEY SHOULD STAY HOME AS LONG AS THEY SHOULD CAUSE EVRYONE KNOWS THAT WE DONT WANT THEM TO DIE!(IF THATS THE CASE!) <IMG SRC="smilies/smileyshot.gif" border="0">
 

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ermmm there is no WAR , and when US does strike its not going to affect the whole world unless US does something really stupid in Afganistan ( they probably will)

So playing in other parts of the world has nothing to do with being stuck in a diff country.
if you don't do by plane ..... ermmmm take a Taxi <IMG SRC="smilies/wink.gif" border="0">
 

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The withdrawals are understandable, but those of you calling the tournament director a "jerk" just don't get it. Watching the semis on TV, all I saw were lots of empty stands. It's rare for a director to come right out and criticize stars, because as Brian says, they might not play next year. The thing is though, this event is so shaky there might not be a next year. Rumors have been flying around that the Russians are going to "loan" the event China.
 

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lots of empty stands yesterday ?????

the stadium was packed full for Elena v Anastasia and for rest of day

you only saw Jelena v Silvia match but thats of little importance and plus it was on 1st so crowd in Russia tends to come in late like in all places.
 

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TBE, Rollo has no idea what (s)he is talking about. Besides, all that ESPN picture catches is those "blue" seats of VIP stands just around the courts, that account for like 3% of total capacity and for which tickets are very expensive. When they showed upper parts, it was clear that there were no empty seats up there..
 

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Well imho the terror attack is just that TERROR. Many PEOPLE not just PrimaDonna's are afraid to fly. Call any airline in America and they will let you know the facts. Also were fanatics/fans and sometimes we expect to see players doing what we sometimes SELFISHLY want them to do. But hey, something horrific happened and it is 100% reasonable for a percentage of American tennis players to stay home.

Please note: Venus was on a plane during this fiasco. Her plane was diverted.. this could pose a traumatic stressful situation for her at the moment. Imho it is hard for her to get back on a plane right now.
 

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Well ys, I may be wrong about the number of people that were in the stands(I only had the TV to judge by), but it's obvious from the press that this is a struggling event financially if there is all this talk of moving it to China.
Luckily for the event Russians did well in both events, but it might not be enough to save it.
 

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In Jelena and Silvia match the stands were pretty empty.

Like if it was a first round match with unknown players. <IMG SRC="smilies/talk.gif" border="0">
 

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Rollo, "struggling" event is going to build a National Tennis Center as a new venue for itself. And now they are going to "struggle" financially for securing two times greater prizemoney to become a combined Masters Event. There are even talks that in that new Center tehre will be enough courts to hold combined 96-draw two-week event as a kind of an indoor Grand Slam. Moscow mayor is a tennis fanatic, so you never know..

Wel, well, Davenport said that she didn't go to Moscow because she wouldn't want to be abroad when America starts a military campaign. Guess what, she got abroad at exactly that time. So, I think, after all she just didn't want to play specifically in Moscow. Not "abroad".
 

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JUST LIKE HE STATED IT NOT HIS FAULT,THAt WHAT VENUS AND SERENA ARE SAY,IT NOT THEY FAULT AND THEY WILL NOT GET KILL UNDER ANY MEANS NECCARASSY.THIS IS NOT ABOUT PLAYING TENNIS NOW.THIS IS A LIFE OR DEATH THING. <IMG SRC="smilies/bounce.gif" border="0"> <IMG SRC="smilies/bounce.gif" border="0">
 
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