Russian tennis boss predicts problems for Wimbledon
The general secretary and vice president of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF), Yakob Shatkhin, has predicted that Wimbledon will face problems due to the ATP and WTA's recent decisions to strip it of valuable ranking points.
The tournament's main organizers, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), announced in April that all Russian and Belarusian athletes would be banned from the grand slam which begins in London on June 27.
This came despite the ATP and WTA deciding not to follow an International Olympic Commitee (IOC) recommendation many sporting federations acted on to ban them as a response to Russia's military operation in Ukraine, instead opting to allow the players to play under neutral status as they have done at the recent French Open.
In response to the Wimbledon ban then, the ATP and WTA took away valuable ranking points which has led some figures such as former women's world number one Naomi Osaka to suggest the SW19 has become an exhibition event she may skip.
Addressing this to Match TV, Shatkhin doubted if anyone will play the tournament.
"Players have the right to choose," he insisted, pointing to the fact that prize money has also been reduced and suggesting that it would will be "difficult" for Wimbledon to attract top tennis players without ranking points.
"Organizations can't tell them 'You must go'," he pointed out.
Shatkhin pointed to skiing as an example of what happens to sporting events without Russians and joked that those put on by global authority FIS had become a "Norwegian championship".
"Last year, our tennis [players] won everything in the world that is possible. It would be ridiculous to leave tournaments without our strongest players [playing them]," he said.
Furthermore, Shatkhin confirmed that the Kremlin Cup will go ahead this year with the presence of Russian players and athletes from friendly countries that have a good relationship with Russia.
"We are working on it," Shatkhin stated.
"Sanctions affect everything, all the activities of our country, but it lives on. It's the same with the Kremlin Cup, it will live its own life," he insisted.