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10 Jun, 2022 14:20

ATP boss names terms for reversing Wimbledon punishment

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi repeated his belief that the decision to ban Russians and Belarusians was wrong
ATP boss names terms for reversing Wimbledon punishment

Men’s tennis tour the ATP would be willing to reverse its decision to strip Wimbledon of rankings points but only if the tournament removes its ban on Russian and Belarusian players, according to chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.

The ATP and women’s counterpart the WTA announced last month that they were removing points from this season’s grass court showpiece in response to the decision by Wimbledon chiefs to bar Russians and Belarusians because of the conflict in Ukraine.

ATP chief Gaudenzi has signaled there is still time for a change in that stance before the Grand Slam gets underway later in June – but only if organizers at the All England Club back down.  

“The reason why we removed the points at Wimbledon is known; it is a matter of fairness and discrimination in response to a unilateral decision of the tournament that we do not consider right,” Gaudenzi told the Italian media this week, as quoted by Ubitennis.   

“Such a decision should have been taken collectively involving all seven components of tennis. This story proves once more that we need a unique governance in tennis.”

Gaudenzi claimed that Russian and Belarusian players would be willing to confirm that they do not support the conflict in Ukraine to be allowed to compete at SW19, which would seemingly satisfy the UK government.   

“We would be very happy to return the points to Wimbledon if the ban on Russians and Belarusians who have said they are willing to make written statements because none of them is in favor of war were lifted,” said the Italian.

Gaudenzi insisted that the decision to effectively turn this year’s Wimbledon into an exhibition event was fair, despite arguments from some that it would distort the ATP rankings.   

“From a ranking point of view, we want to have a ranking in 2022 where each player had access to the same number of points,” said the ATP boss.  

“This is the only way to have a fair ranking at the end of the year. If we gave protection to those who played well at Wimbledon in 2021 it would be even more unfair to those who play well in 2022, because the points would still expire after 52 weeks as always happens.

“We can’t protect seven or eight players by creating even more damage to everyone else. Unfortunately, Wimbledon points will be missing in the year-end ranking, but from our point of view it is the fairest choice and the WTA agrees with us.”

The decision by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and fellow UK organization the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to bar Russians and Belarusians from all events on British shores this summer means that the likes of top-10 men’s stars Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev as well as women’s aces Aryna Sabalenka and Viktoria Azarenka will be absent.

Despite the absence of points, Wimbledon this week announced that record prize money would be on offer for those who are permitted to line up for the London Grand Slam.

A collective fund of£40.35 million ($50 million) will be dished out, including £2 million ($2.5 million) each to the winners of the men’s and women’s singles titles. That marks an 11.1% increase on last year’s tournament.

In condemning Wimbledon for its ban on Russian and Belarusian players, the ATP said last month that the decision was discriminatory and “undermines the principle and integrity” of its rankings system.

Wimbledon chiefs attempted to defend their ban by claiming the decision was affected by UK government policy, and that allowing players from the two countries to compete would risk “being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime.”

Should Wimbledon bosses have a late change of heart before play gets underway on June 27, the likes of Russian world number two Medvedev have already said they would gladly appear at the tournament.