Israel's Andy Ram says receiving a visa to play in the United Arab Emirates is "a very good surprise" and the Arab government made "the right decision."
After the Emirates refused to allow countrywoman Shahar Peer to play in this week's women's tournament in Dubai, the WTA and ATP Tours threatened to cancel future events in Dubai.
The Emirates, which support Palestinians and do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, feared demonstrations by local fans over Israel's recent military offensive in the Gaza Strip if Peer was to play.
But the Emirates backtracked on Thursday, granting Ram a visa to enter next week's $2.2 million Dubai Championships.
Peer called it a victory and looked forward to playing in Dubai next year. On Friday, the WTA fined the Dubai organizers a record $300,000.
"My reaction was, I was very happy for the decision to give me the visa," Ram said on Friday at the Open 13 tournament.
"After last week when they denied the visa for Shahar Peer, it was a surprising decision for me but I think it was a good surprise, a very good surprise."
Despite the controversy, Ram said he was excited about playing in Dubai for the first time.
A doubles specialist, he was ranked 11th in the world, and among his 15 doubles titles was the 2008 Australian Open.
This week, he and Julian Knowle of Australia, the top seeds, had reached Sunday's final in Marseille.
Ram said he'd been heartened during the visa controversy by the support of his fellow professionals.
"When we're talking about sport it's something that I think you should take it like separate from politics and that's what happened here," Ram said.
"All the players I talked to here — (Novak) Djokovic, (Gilles) Simon, (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga — they were all very supportive about this and they think the same like me. It's a tournament and they should let everybody play."
He added he was grateful for support from around the world, and the ATP.
"I have to be thankful to them. I don't know but I think in the end they (Emirates) took the right decision. And I'm just very happy."