Australian Open reveals decision on Russian players
The Australian Open has no plans to ban Russian and Belarusian players from next year’s tournament, organizers have said, although they will have to compete under strictly neutral status at the Melbourne showpiece.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, tournament director and Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley said: “At this point, Russian and Belarusian players will be eligible to play in the Australian Open, and they, like every other player, will have to go through the (entry) process.”
“The only difference will be that they cannot represent Russia – cannot represent the flag of Russia.
“They cannot participate in any activity such as the anthem of Russia and they have to play as independent players under a neutral name. But they will be welcome to the Australian Open in January,” Tiley added, according to Sky News.
Despite blanket bans on Russian and Belarusian athletes across a wide range of sports because of the conflict in Ukraine, the men’s ATP and women’s WTA tennis tours have allowed players from the two countries to compete at international tournaments as neutrals.
Organizers at Wimbledon imposed their own ban on Russian and Belarusian players at this year’s event, citing the stance of the British government as partly being behind the move. That resulted in the ATP and WTA both stripping the grass-court Grand Slam of its rankings points.
Russian and Belarusian players were free to compete as neutrals at the French Open in May and June, as well as the US Open in August and September.
Russia and Belarus boast some of the top names in tennis. Russia’s Daniil Medvedev enjoyed a spell as men’s world number one earlier this year and was a beaten finalist at the Australian Open back in January. Russian star Andrey Rublev is also inside the top ten of the men’s rankings.
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus is ranked number five in the WTA ratings, while compatriot Victoria Azarenka is a two-time Australian Open champion and former world number one. Russia’s Daria Kasatkina was a French Open semifinalist this year and is currently ranked number 11 in the world.