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Rafael Nadal strikes out at Wimbledon ban on Russian tennis players over war in Ukraine

Rafael Nadal is not happy with the ban on Russian and Belarusian tennis players announced last month. (Photo by Angel Martinez / Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal has criticized the ‘unfair’ ban on Russian and Belarusian tennis at this year’s Wimbledon tournament, which was announced by the Lawn Tennis Association last month.

The LTA declared in April that it would follow the precedent created by other organizations, including FIFA, UEFA and Eurovision, by banning Russians from competing in high-profile international events, in order to make the Russian state a sporting and cultural exclusion after President Vladimir Putin destructive invasion of Ukraine.

The UN estimates that nearly five million people have fled Ukraine since the attack began across land, air and sea in late February, while cities including Mariupol, Kharkiv and Kiev have been decimated by shelling. Belarusian players have also been ruled out because of their nation’s practical support for the invasion.

A statement from the All England Club released at the time read: “Given the profile of the championships in the UK and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence by the strongest possible means. ‘

However, Nadal believes that the war has nothing to do with the players who are not allowed to participate, including Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Aryna Sabalenka.

‘I think it’s very unfair [on] my Russian tennis teammates, my colleagues, “said the Spaniard. ‘It is not their fault what is happening in this moment of the war. At the end of the day, what is happening in our game, it does not matter when we can see so many people die and suffer and see the bad situation they have in Ukraine. ‘

Nadal is playing his first tournament in six weeks at the Madrid Open after sustaining a stress fracture on a rib at Indian Wells in March. His loss to Taylor Fritz in the final, as he was clearly physically hampered, ended his 20-game winning streak to start the season. Now the 35-year-old catcher is playing to reach the top condition in time for the French Open, which he won on 13 previous occasions.

“When we talk about the injury, I’m recovered, I’m fine,” he said. ‘When we talk about my tennis game and my preparations, it’s a whole other story.

Telcel ATP Mexican Open 2022 - Day 5

The world number two for men, Daniil Medvedev, will not be able to compete at Wimbledon this year. (Photo by Hector Vivas / Getty Images)

‘Anyone who has broken a rib knows how restrictive it is, very painful, especially the first few weeks. I was not able to do anything without a lot of difficulty, even falling asleep because of the pain.

“I’ve improved compared to when I came here, but I still have ups and downs because it’s been a long time without being in those kinds of situations, and it’s going to be a tough week, for sure.”

The 2022 Wimbledon Championships begin on Monday 27 June.

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