Nadal and Federer told to ‘come clean’ over Russian stance
A British MP has demanded that tennis greats Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer clarify their roles in the potential decision by the ATP to punish Wimbledon after it imposed a ban on Russian and Belarusian players.
Reports have claimed that the ATP could announce a decision this week to strip Wimbledon of rankings points after strong sentiment among the Player Council – which includes Nadal and Federer – in favor of the step.
UK MP Chris Bryant has reacted angrily to the potential sanctions for the London grass court tournament, accusing the ATP of acting “appallingly.”
“Federer and Nadal should come clean,” said Bryant, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia.
“Do they want [Russian President] Vladimir Putin to fail or don’t they care?
“The men’s tour are behaving appallingly. It’s like they haven’t heard what is happening in Ukraine or don’t care,” fumed the parliamentarian.
Nadal has previously described the Wimbledon ban as “unfair” but was this week more guarded on the issue as he spoke on the sidelines of the Italian Open in Rome.
“I don't have a clear opinion on the matter and I don’t want to declare anything,” said the record 21-time Grand Slam king.
“[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.
“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,” added the 35-year-old.
Federer, 40, has not made any public statements on the matter although the Swiss veteran has been absent from the tour as he continues his recovery from injury.
Wimbledon organizers the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the UK’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) have isolated themselves among the tennis community by imposing a ban on Russian and Belarusian players from all British events this summer.
That stands in direct contradiction with the policy of the ATP and WTA, which have stated that players from the two countries should continue to compete as neutrals.
Both organizations issued statements suggesting that the Wimbledon ban is discriminatory, with suggestions that the women’s tour could follow its men’s counterpart in stripping the Grand Slam of rankings points, effectively turning it into a lucrative exhibition event.
Wimbledon chiefs have attempted to defend their stance by claiming it is in line with UK government policy and that the appearance of the likes of Russian men’s world number two Daniil Medvedev at the SW19 tournament would somehow signal a coup for the “propaganda machine of the Russian regime.”
The French Open, which gets underway in Paris on May 22, is allowing Russian and Belarusian players to participate under neutral status.