Nadal makes vow as decision looms on Wimbledon’s Russian ban
Rafael Nadal has remained tight-lipped on a potential ATP decision to punish Wimbledon because of its ban on Russian and Belarusian players, but the Spanish great called on the men’s tour to ensure it acts in the interests of “every single player.”
Reports have indicated that the ATP could announce this week that it is stripping Wimbledon of its rankings points in response to the decision to bar Russian and Belarusian stars from the grass court showpiece because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Members of the ATP Player Council – which includes Nadal and fellow icon Roger Federer – are said to be in favor of the step, which needs to be ratified by the ATP Board.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Italian Open in Rome, where he defeated American John Isner on Wednesday, Nadal was guarded on his role in the ATP discussions regarding Wimbledon, telling reporters: “I don't have a clear opinion on the matter and I don’t want to declare anything.”
But the record 21-time Grand Slam winner added that all players should be “protected” by the organization.
“[The] only thing we can do is be in touch with Wimbledon and the rest of the ATP management to do the things that work better to protect every single player in the ATP,” said the 35-year-old.
“At the end, that’s our job: to protect the players and to work [to] the benefit of every single player that we are representing.”
Nadal added that whatever the outcome of the ATP’s decision, “when things like this happen, nothing will be perfect.”
By declaring Russian and Belarusian players persona non grata back in April, Wimbledon organizers the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and fellow UK authority the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) have made themselves outliers in the tennis community.
The ATP and WTA have both allowed stars from the two countries to continue to compete as neutrals on their tours – a stance followed by the French Open, which gets underway on May 22.
The likes of Nadal and fellow men’s icon Novak Djokovic have previously been critical of Wimbledon’s position. The Serb called it “crazy” while Nadal described it as “very unfair” in comments earlier this month.