Tennis: Ram loses in doubles final ahead of historic trip

Injuries and political stances have combined to leave Dubai event with a bare draw this week.

andy ram france 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
andy ram france 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Just hours before leaving for Dubai to make a momentous appearance in the Arab country, Andy Ram and partner Julian Knowle lost 6-3, 3-6, 8-10 to Arnaud Clement and Michal Llodra in the final of the Open 13 in Marseille. Ram will play with Kevin Ullyett in the Dubai Tennis Championships and the Israeli/Zimbabwean duo will face Marat Safin and David Ferrer in the first round. The Dubai tournament will start on Monday without five of the top seven men's players, mostly because of injuries. Top-ranked Rafael Nadal (knee) and second-ranked Roger Federer (back) withdrew earlier this week. The tournament has since lost defending champion Andy Roddick of the United States, No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko (undisclosed injury) and No. 9 Fernando Verdasco (ankle). That leaves No. 3 Novak Djokovic of Serbia and No. 4 Andy Murray of Britain as the top two seeds in the draw announced Saturday for the $2 million tournament. Roddick said Friday he won't attend because he doesn't agree with the United Arab Emirates' decision to deny Shahar Pe'er a visa to play in the women's tournament this week. Last year, Murray knocked out Federer in the first round of the tournament. He'll face No. 79 Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine. "The draw is definitely a bit different from last year, but we were not expecting it," Murray said. "They obviously had a great field lined up and some of the guys got injured. But it is certainly nice that I don't have to play a first round against Federer." Top-seeded Djokovic, who is playing in France this week, will play a qualifier in the opening round. Third-seeded Giles Simon of France faces Kuwaiti wild card Mohammed Ghareeb and fourth-seeded David Ferrer will face Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia. Marat Safin, Nicolas Kiefer and Ghareeb were added as wild cards.