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25 Mar, 2022 09:51

Medvedev reacts after Wimbledon ban threat for ‘pro-Putin’ stars

The UK sports minister suggested the country wouldn’t allow ‘supporters of Vladimir Putin’ to compete in Britain
Medvedev reacts after Wimbledon ban threat for ‘pro-Putin’ stars

World number two Daniil Medvedev has said “every country can set their own rules” but suggested he is not unduly concerned after the UK sports minister claimed that Russian players could be banned from Wimbledon unless they denounce President Vladimir Putin.

Medvedev is currently at the Miami Open, where he is seeded first and will meet Britain’s Andy Murray in the second round on Saturday.

Speaking on the sidelines after comments by UK sports minister Nigel Huddleston, who said earlier this month that Britain needs to have some assurance that [athletes] are not supporters of Vladimir Putin” before being allowed to compete at events such as Wimbledon, Medvedev mostly kept his own counsel.    

“[I] don’t have any response to Wimbledon. I will need to see what happens next,” said the US Open champion, AFP reported.

“I try to take it tournament by tournament. I mean, there are always different rules, regulations in order to play or not to play.

“Right now I'm here in Miami. I can play and I’m happy to play tennis, the sport I love. I want to promote the sport all over the world. We’ll have tough moments and good moments.”

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has allowed Russian and Belarusian stars to continue to compete as neutrals in the wake of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, but has said players from the two countries must appear without any national symbols.

Medvedev, 26, has removed the Russian flag from his social media accounts and said in Miami that he would effectively have to accept it if certain countries decided to impose separate rules in contradiction to those issued by sporting federations.

“Every country can set their own rules. Maybe tomorrow somebody’s going to announce, I don’t know, that we don’t want any more tennis tournaments,” said Medvedev. 

“Say one country has a Grand Slam, and maybe some other Masters events are going to say, ‘We don’t want any more tennis in our country.’ That’s how life is.

“It’s very tough in life to talk about what is fair and not fair. So I of course do have my own opinions on different topics, but I prefer to speak about them with my family, with my wife, where we can sometimes disagree, but we can discuss. It’s much easier when you have a dialogue about this.”

The next tournament for Medvedev after Miami will be the Rolex Masters in Monte-Carlo, which he said counts as a “home” event as he is a resident there.

Beyond that lies the Grand Slam at Roland-Garros which gets underway at the end of May, before Wimbledon is due to start on June 27 – a tournament where Medvedev’s best previous run was to the fourth round last year.

Since Russia launched its military offensive in Ukraine last month, Medvedev has issued calls for peace without mentioning the specific conflict – a stance he stuck to in Miami.

“I think everybody knows what’s happening, so it’s basically of course impossible to ignore it,” Medvedev told reporters.

“I always said I’m for peace. I want everybody to be safe, healthy, myself included, other people included, everybody in the world. Sometimes it’s not possible, but, yeah, that’s what I want.”

Medvedev become the first new name in 18 years to rise to the world number one spot at the end of February, ending Novak Djokovic’s reign at the top of the ATP rankings.

The Serb recaptured the position three weeks later when Medvedev suffered a shock third-round exit at Indian Wells, although a run to the semifinals in Miami would see the Russian rise to the pinnacle again.

Djokovic has been forced to miss Indian Wells and the Miami Open as his unvaccinated status means he cannot travel to the US, but is set to line up with Medvedev at Monte-Carlo in April.