Russian tennis boss wants Wimbledon glory for Djokovic
After his compatriots were controversially banned by Wimbledon organizers, Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpishchev has revealed that his main interest in this year’s grass court showpiece will be to see if defending champion Novak Djokovic can win a 21st Grand Slam title.
Russian world number one Daniil Medvedev is just one of a host of Russian and Belarusian stars to be barred from this year’s tournament at SW19 because of the conflict in Ukraine, reducing the competition for the rest of the men’s and women’s field when the main draw gets underway on Monday.
In the absence of Medvedev and Co, Russian tennis chief Tarpishchev says he will firmly be behind Djokovic’s bid for a fourth successive Wimbledon title and a seventh in total at the All England Club.
“For me, the main intrigue and interest of this Wimbledon tournament is the performance and result of Djokovic. Whether he will defend the title, whether he will win his 21st Grand Slam. I will be rooting for Novak,” Tarpishchev told RIA Sport.
The Russian tennis boss, 74, has been among the figures to condemn Wimbledon’s decision to block Russian and Belarusian players from the tournament, while Djokovic has called the ban “crazy.”
The stance from UK tennis bosses contradicts the ATP and WTA tours, both of which allow Russian and Belarusian stars to continue to compete as neutrals.
The ATP and WTA have stripped Wimbledon of rankings points in response to its actions, effectively turning this year’s event into a lucrative exhibition tournament.
Djokovic, 35, begins his Wimbledon campaign on Centre Court against South Korean outsider Kwon Soon-woo on Monday.
The Serbian top seed knows that a potential meeting in the final awaits with generational rival Rafael Nadal, who has won both Grand Slams on offer thus far this year to take his overall tally to 22.
Djokovic also knows that Wimbledon will likely be his last Grand Slam of the season as he is set to miss the US Open in August-September due to American rules on unvaccinated foreign travelers.
Djokovic’s vaccine stance saw him deported from Australia ahead of the Grand Slam in Melbourne at the start of the year in an unsavory row with the Australian officials.
The Serbian star, however, has repeatedly said he is willing to give up the chance of more titles, rather than be forced into getting jabbed against Covid-19.