Kasatkina and Rublev allowed a change of citizenship
As for Rublev, when asked about a possible citizenship change, he said the following: “If we are completely banned from all tournaments and I want to continue my sporting career, this is one way out.” We did not hear unambiguous statements, but many noticed that assumptions about switching to another flag were made in tennis, the sport where Russians are the least affected by the sanctions. Rublev and Kasatkina, along with all of Russia and Belarus, missed Wimbledon and have been playing in neutral status for four months now, but are having a very good season overall. How did the anti-Russian decisions of the international sports governing body affect these athletes specifically?
Andrey already has three ATP titles under his belt this season. By comparison world number one Daniil Medvedev has not won one. Rublev has over $2 million in prize money since the start of the year, more than 15 per cent of what he’s earned during his seven-year pro career. Of course, Russia’s second-ranked player is not a poor man without tennis thanks to his businessman father. But now he certainly can’t complain about how his tennis career is going. In an interview with “SE” in late April, Andrei said that he has no goal to show a specific result. “I just want to do my best. I want to do my best. I want to perform with the feeling that I did my best. I gave it my all,” Rublev said.
The tennis player probably lost a lot of money because he was not allowed to play at Wimbledon, but he took a nice vacation during his “grass season” – he went to Moscow, trained in Barcelona, saw his family and was obviously not bored. Recall that last year Andrei was the Olympic champion in the mixed doubles duo with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Rublev himself perceived that success with humor, but the title gives him the right for a lifetime scholarship in our country, the title of “MVP” and the allowances associated with it. In addition, the tennis player was awarded the Order of Friendship. “We tried to show that tennis can be more than just a sport. In the current situation it’s especially important,” Andrey commented on his current scandalous interview.
Rublev starts this week at a tournament in Hamburg. Then he will play American hard-court tournaments, including the US Open. No Russian is unacceptable in New York for the majors, so he has a chance to finally rock out at the Grand Slam. Andrei’s main task for the second half of the season will be to secure a place in the top eight and be selected for the final Masters in Turin. There will be no chance to defend the Davis Cup with the Russian national team this year because of the sanctions, and this, along with Wimbledon, is really a serious blow to his plans. Although Andrei’s gestalt for team victories is clearly closed.
Daria has regained the title of the first racket of Russia this year, having suffered a very serious two-year slump in her game. She has no titles so far this season, but she has semifinals at Roland Garros, Rome, Melbourne and Sydney. If Kasatkina continues in the same vein, she could theoretically return to the top ten. Women’s tennis has been going through a lot of storms, which provides additional opportunities. Of course, talk of the sport is now overshadowed by the scandal surrounding the tennis player’s coming-out – the day before she actually announced that she and figure skater Natalya Zabiako had formed the first public same-sex couple in our sport. But, in the end, this is a private matter for the girls. The main thing is that the talk around the high-profile confession now did not distract from the game and Daria then did not write it off to political sanctions.
Kasatkina can’t complain about her earnings this season either. 1.2 million is very solid money for women’s tennis. On the eve of Wimbledon she played two tournaments on grass courts in Germany, reaching the quarterfinals. Did Daria have a chance in the London Majors? Given the sensational success of Elena Rybakina, of course, anything is possible. But last year Russian player had only one match in the British capital, and if WTA did not deprive her of ranking points and was not prohibited to play, Kasatkina would not have had to defend much at this tournament.
This week the first Russian racket has already dropped out of the ground tournament in Hamburg. Now we are waiting for her on the hard court in San Jose and further – at the U.S. Open. We must speak separately about Daria’s relations with the National Team. Last year she was the only Russian leader who refused to play at the Olympics in Tokyo, citing “a very complicated and complicated schedule. Kasatkina participated in the victorious Billie Jean King Cup, but there the team leader was Lyudmila Samsonova. Kasatkina played two matches during the whole final stretch – though she won both of them. She won’t be able to defend her title this year because of the sanctions. Daria seems to regret it. Though her phrase that “they’ll never get us back” is clearly too emotional.
Overall, Kasatkina is having her best season since 2018, and she clearly didn’t set herself any grandiose goals before it started. “For this year, I set myself a goal to be in the top 15. I ended up close to the top 10, so I’m ready to get back there. I’ll do everything to reach it, but the most important thing is my health and the desire to move forward,” Kasatkina said in the interview with “SE” about her goals for the current season. Do sanctions prevent Daria from moving forward? The answer to this question everyone can give themselves.