(1978 - )
Amir Hadad, who turned pro in 1995, is ranked No. 251
in the world in doubles as of July 8, 2004. He reached the highest ranking
of his career, 85, in June, 2003. Amir is also ranked No. 385, in singles;
his best ranking was 187 in July, 2002.
In 2002, Hadad qualified for the French Open; he reached the second
round of the tournament before losing to Jarkko Nieminen of Finland,
7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 4-6, 5-7. His only previous Grand Slam appearance had
been at the 1999 Wimbledon tournament, where he lost in the first round
of the singles competition. Amir was 2-2 in singles play in 2002, and
had a career record of 3-6 in singles.
In mid-July 2002, Amir and his partner Martin Vassallo Arguello won
the Seascape Challenger Tournament doubles final. In the same tournament,
fellow Israeli Noam Behr reached the singles finals, while Israelis
Harel Levy and Noam Okun reached the doubles semifinals.
In the qualifying tournament for the 2003 Australian Open, Hadad defeated Michihisa Onoda of Japan,
6-4, 6-2 in the first round. Amir won his next match against Arvind
Parmar of Great Britain (the
No. 28), 6-1, 7-5. In the third round, however, Amir lost to No. 11
seed Christophe Rochus of Belgium,
Hadad won the Ho Chi Minh tournament in Vietnam in early 2003, when
he beat Yuri Schukin in the final. He also won doubles titles in Gronigen,
Rome, San Remo, and Kyoto during the year.
At the 2003 Wimbledon, Hadad competed in the qualifying tournament
for both singles and doubles. In the singles competiton, he lost in
the first round. In the doubles event, Hadad teamed with Qureshi of
Pakistan, and they advanced to the tournament out of the qualifying
rounds. In the first round of competition, however, Hadad and Qureshi
lost to Jiri Novak and Radek Stepanek of the Czech
Republic, 6-7 (5-7), 5-7, and 5-7.
On February 6, 2003, Hadad and his doubles partner from the 2002 Wimbledon
and U.S. Open tournaments, Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan, were chosen
as the winners of the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award. ATP Chief Executive
Officer Mark Miles said, "During a summer when fear and hatred
garnered much of the headlines, Amir and Aisam-ul-Haq provided much
needed relief with their simple message about tolerance through tennis...It's
fitting that we present the Arthur Ashe Award to these two players on
the anniversary of Arthur's death, as Arthur remains the model for all
of us on how athletes and sport can make a big difference in the lives
At the 2002 Wimbledon tournament, Hadad teamed with Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi
of Pakistan. This extraordinary doubles team, with its bravely enlightened
but controversial pairing of an Israeli and a Muslim, reached the third
round at Wimbledon, attaining an upset victory in the second round over
the No. 11 seeded team of Ellis Ferreira and Rick Leach. Hadad's pair
then lost to the No. 7 seeded team of Martin Damm and Cyril Suz in the
third round, 1-6, 6-7 (5-7), 4-6.
The teaming of Hadad and Qureshi made international news when the Pakistani
Sports Board threatened to ban Qureshi for teaming with a Jew (the threat
was later rescinded and he was invited to join Pakistan's Davis Cup
team). Hadad, on the other hand, received nothing but support from Israel.
The president of Israel's tennis federation, David Harnik, said, "We
like the idea. We think there's nothing like sports to bridge the gap
between nations and to be the start of solving problems."
When asked about the controversy surrounding their partnership, Hadad
told reporters, "...we came to play tennis. There are some people
who maybe want to make headlines, say bad things about this. But I see
it as only a positive that two guys from different nationalities can
play together. We are good friends and I think we're going to keep playing
together in the future. We're here to improve our ranking, to make some
Hadad and Qureshi stated they planned on teaming again at the 2002
U.S. Open. They achieved their goal when they were awarded a wild card
entry by the tournament. Although they had not played together since
Wimbledon, the now-famous doubles team won their first round match over
Argentineans Mariano Hood and Sebastian Prieto, 6-4 and 6-2. In the
second round, they faced defending champions Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett
of Zimbabwe and lost the match, 4-6, 6-4, 2-6.
Despite their early exit, Hadad and Qureshi continued to receive praise
and support for their partnership. During the tournament, they repeated
that their pairing was not a political statement, but that they both
noticed their countrymen in the stands during the matches. Regardless
of what they are playing for, the fact that Israelis were cheering for
a Muslim, and Pakistanis for a Jew, demonstrates that sports can indeed
transcend politics. During the Open, Hadad said, "Two people from
different countries, different cultures, you know, can team up, play
together, play good tennis together. If you put in politics, maybe they
can do the same thing."