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27 Jun, 2022 13:16

Wimbledon is ‘weird’ without Russians, says Aussie rival

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios lamented the absence of Russian stars at SW19
Wimbledon is ‘weird’ without Russians, says Aussie rival

Wimbledon organizers are doing tennis fans a disservice by banning Russian stars and will deprive them of witnessing some of the world’s most important players in action, according to Australian ace Nick Kyrgios.

Fan favorite Kyrgios is preparing to line up at the London Grand Slam this week, where his unique blend of crowd-pleasing antics and big-hitting tennis could see him threaten some of the more fancied names for the title.

But one man Kyrgios won’t be meeting is world number one Daniil Medvedev, who along with his fellow Russian stars has been barred from the All England Club because of the conflict in Ukraine.

On the even of the tournament, Kyrgios spelled out his feelings that the ban was entirely wrong.   

“My honest opinion, I don’t think it was a good idea to ban the Russian players to play,” Kyrgios, 27, told the media.  

“I think Medvedev is the best we have in our sport right now. You look at some of [Russia’s] other players, [Andrey] Rublev, [Karen] Khachanov, they’re important young players for our sport to continue to grow.

“When you have a lot of cameras on, a lot of people tuning in, you want our best players to be showcased.  

“Me personally, as a competitor and someone that wants to go up against them, I’m disappointed they’re not here. It’s weird not seeing Medvedev here,” added Kyrgios, who was beaten by Medvedev on the Russian’s route to the Australian Open final at the start of the season.  

“We all know what he’s capable of. [The decision is] done now. I’m sure that they’re going to be tuning in and watching, wishing they were here. They wanted to play and be a part of it. I’m disappointed they’re not here,” 

Kyrgios is the latest voice in tennis to express discontent at the decision by Wimbledon organizers to ban Russian and Belarusian players – a decision which has seen this year’s tournament stripped of rankings points by the ATP and WTA.

Both tours have allowed Russian and Belarusian players to continue to compete as neutrals, a position backed by Grand Slam bosses at the French and US Opens.   

Meanwhile, Kyrgios begins his 2022 Wimbledon campaign against Britain’s Paul Jubb on Tuesday. The Australian’s best ever run on the grass courts at SW19 was as a debutant back in 2014, when he reached the quarterfinals, beating Rafael Nadal along the way.