Rafael Nadal criticizes Wimbledon’s exclusion of Russian Belarusian players

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After Novak Djokovic recently called Wimbledon’s decision to exclude players from Russia and Belarus due to the invasion of Ukraine “insane”, Rafael Nadal added his voice on Sunday, saying it was “very unfair.”

“I think it is very unfair [to] my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues. It is not their fault what is happening in this moment of the war, ” he told reporters in Madrid, where he returns after a rib injury at the Madrid Open.

The decision has been unpopular with the governing bodies of tennis players and has created uncertainty about the sport’s biggest tournaments. The French Open, the second Grand Slam in 2022, begins on May 22, and initial reports suggest that players may be allowed to play under a neutral flag, as they have done at the Association of Tennis Professionals and Women’s Tennis Associations events. since Russia’s invasion began.

The ATP, which controls the men’s side, and the WTA do not support the ban, which will hit a handful of players, none more prominent than Daniil Medvedev, the 26-year-old Russian who lost last year in Wimbledon’s fourth round. Medvedev, who is number two in the world, won the 2021 US Open and was a finalist at the Australian Open in 2021 and 2022. The Russian Andrey Rublev, 24, is number eight in the world.

Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus, the world’s fourth-ranked player, was Wimbledon and US Open semifinalist last year. Other affected women include Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the world’s 15th ranked female player who has called for an end to the war, and Victoria Azarenka from Belarus. Azarenka, who is ranked No. 18 and is formerly No. 1 in the world, has won the Australian Open twice.

Elina Svitolina, a Ukrainian player ranked 20th in the world, promised to donate her winnings at last month’s Monterrey Open to the Ukrainian army, and she supports allowing athletes who are against the invasion to play.

Neither the ATP nor the WTA have taken action, but they may be able to remove ranking points from Wimbledon starting June 27th.

“The 2,000 points when we go to the Grand Slams, they are really important and we are going to those tournaments. So we have to see the steps we take, “said Nadal, a member of ATP’s players’ council.

“Ultimately, what happens in our game does not matter when we can see so many people die and suffer and see the bad situation they have in Ukraine.”

Djokovic reiterated on Sunday that he had not changed his position, telling reporters: “I still stand by my position that I do not support the decision. I just think it is not fair, it is not right.”

Perspective: Wimbledon’s ban on Russian players is unfair, personal – and absolutely right

Last week, two All England Club officials defended the “intensely tough and painful decision” to exclude players from Russia and Belarus. Referring to the club’s “responsibility to play our part in limiting the possibility of Wimbledon being used to justify the harm done to others by the Russian regime,” said CEO Sally Bolton (via the Associated Press), ” We believe that this decision is the only viable option for Wimbledon. “

As for his physical condition, Nadal, who has 21 Grand Slam singles titles to 20 for Djokovic and the injured Roger Federer, says he is doing well, even though he is lagging behind in preparing for the French Open, which he has won 13 times .

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