Dudi Sela will be targeting his third Challenger title of the season on Sunday when he faces Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili in the final of the $125,000 tournament in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
The 28-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 87 in the world, defeated No. 1 seed Lukas Lacko (69) 5- 7, 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the semifinals on Saturday and will be looking to pick up the 16th Challenger title of his career on Sunday.
Sela was hoping to play Davis Cup teammate Amir Weintraub in Sunday’s final.
However, Weintraub’s (196) run in Tashkent was brought to an end on Saturday with a 7-6 (1), 6-4 loss to Gabashvili (118).
Weintraub’s promising performance in Tashkent was overshadowed by a political incident that saw him progress to the semifinals without having to play a match.
Weintraub was scheduled to face Tunisia No. 1 Malek Jaziri (169) in Friday’s quarters, but the Tunisian tennis federation ordered its top player to withdraw from the match.
“Following a meeting this afternoon with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, I have the immense regret to inform you that you are ordered not to play against the Israeli player,” the federation said in an email to Jaziri.
The email was made public by Jaziri’s brother, ironically also named Amir, and was published by Tunisia’s state news agency.
Weintraub didn’t want to discuss the matter, but said that Malek is “a good friend” and that “he really wanted to play.”
“The Israel Tennis Association and I have never mixed sports and politics,” said ITA CEO Shlomo Glickstein. “It is sad to me that these kinds of things still happen. I feel bad for the athletes who find themselves embroiled in such situations, which end up hurting their careers. The most important thing is that Amir won.”
The ATP and ITF have said they will look into the matter, but it remains to be seen if any sanctions will be imposed on the player or the Tunisian federation.