Russian tennis ace accuses Wimbledon chiefs of breaking agreement
World tennis number seven Andrey Rublev has accused Wimbledon of breaking its agreement with the ATP men's tour, and in turn predicted that the two parties' "toxic relationship" could "destroy" sport.
The ATP and its women's counterpart the WTA sent shockwaves through tennis last Friday when announcing that they would strip Wimbledon of ranking points.
This has come in response to the All England Lawn Tennis Club's (AELTC) decision to ban Russian players from the SW19 grand slam as a response to the military operation in Ukraine, which went against the norms of other top tournaments such as the ongoing French Open which allows them to perform under neutral status.
Ahead of his second round match against Federico Delbonis at Roland Garros, Rublev remarked on Wimbledon where the likes of him and world number two Daniil Medvedev will be prohibited from playing while other high-profile stars such as Naomi Osaka have hinted at skipping the event in lieu of ranking points that will help her return to the summit of the women's game.
"I will be honest, Wimbledon they broke the agreement with the ATP. When you have a deal, you cannot break it and they did it," Rublev stated.
"I think it [the decision to strip them of points] is more to show to tournaments that they cannot do whatever they want, it’s more about team work," the 24-year-old continued.
"Tennis, in my opinion, is the only sport where we need tournaments to work together and tournaments need players to work together and when we have a toxic relationship, like now, only bad things can happen.
"You let tournaments do what they want and in the end nothing good is going to happen. Or you take a stand and say ‘enough from now on let’s work together’, because if something happens to the tournament, players need to defend it and if something happens to the players, tournaments also need to defend [them].
"Only by working together, tennis can be more successful," Rublev insisted.
"Even if Wimbledon goes with the Slams and they try to create another tour, it will only destroy tennis, it will destroy the glory of tennis for many, many years," he predicted. "In the end, there is only one way and it is to work together and not have a toxic relationship."
Elsewhere, Denis Shapovalov, who has a Ukrainian mother and a Russian father but represents Canada, neither agrees with Wimbledon's ban on Russians nor the ATP and WTA's move to take away ranking points.
"I don't agree with either," the world number 15 said after crashing out of the French Open first round to Holger Rune.
"I think first of all, if you have a pro competition, everybody should be competing.
"I completely understand the politics and the situation they're in. But again, if you have a tennis tournament that's supposed to have the best athletes in the world, it shouldn't matter where you're from," Shapovalov underlined.
"I also don't agree with the ATP to take out all the points. The most guys it's affecting are the guys in the top rankings."
"It's difficult," Shapovalov confessed. "I think they could have gone with it a different way, maybe keep 50% like they have in the past or some kind of fairness."
"It's difficult for the players when you don't have a chance to defend and especially on a surface like grass where it (the season) is already so short and the players that play well on that surface they don't have that many opportunities to make points... so [if] you take a huge chunk of it out, it's super difficult for players," he concluded
With the AELTC considering legal action, Wimbledon is still set to go ahead from June 27 to July 10.