Wimbledon is already losing players after the Russian suspension scandal
Many players, including reigning champion Novak Djokovic, have suffered after Wimbledon was stripped of ranking points. So who will play there?
After Wimbledon organizers suspended all Russian and Belarusian players from the tournament, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) have stripped this world-famous competition of ranking points. This means that at the end of the 2022 tournament all the points gained by the tennis players in 2021 will be lost, and they will not be able to earn any more. And in this situation the most affected are those who reached the decisive stages a year ago. So champion Novak Djokovic will have 2,000 points burned. In this situation tennis players already think whether they need to go to Foggy Albion.
French tennis player Luc Pouille was almost the first to say that he probably will not go to Wimbledon because of the deprivation of ranking points. “I don’t agree with the decision to suspend Russian players. I understand their disappointment and the unfairness of it. I know they have nothing to do with it. But after the deprivation of rating points at Wimbledon, the situation became unfair for 240 players instead of 12. It was not a unanimous decision, as far as I know. At first I decided not to play Wimbledon. Then I said to myself, no, it’s still a Grand Slam, you’re going. Then I decided not to play at the grass-court tournaments. But I don’t think I’ll do it. All the more, the prize fund will not be as expected. It will be smaller,” L’Equipe quoted Pouille as saying.
Italian Fabio Fognini also wondered if he should go to Foggy Albion. “You know, I don’t feel the best on grass. I heard that the prize money at Wimbledon is going to be reduced. If that happens, I’d rather spend my vacation on Formentera (a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. -By the way, “Championship”)”, – thought the tennis player at the press conference. Four-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one Naomi Osaka also hinted that she may not take part in Wimbledon 2022: “I’m not one hundred percent sure I’ll come to Wimbledon. I’m the kind of player who gets motivated when I watch the rankings go up. I have a feeling it will be something of an exhibition tournament for me if I perform at Wimbledon without any points. I know that’s not the case. But that’s what my brain feels like. I can’t give a hundred percent when it comes to something like an exhibition tournament. I haven’t made a decision yet. But I’m more inclined not to play, given the current circumstances.”
Senior British player Cameron Connery criticized the ATP’s decision to take points away from Wimbledon and said: “Wimbledon is a very special tournament. But I think a lot of top players will refuse to play, they will prepare for hard tournaments. Especially those who don’t care much about the prize money. Of course, now we are in a very difficult situation because of the events in Ukraine. It is difficult for me. It turns out that you play without any goal. The rating system is changing drastically. They actually took away a total of 6,000 points. I haven’t talked to many of the tennis players, but I think a lot of them are upset about it,
Most comments from players are that tennis players who don’t have to worry about prize money and who didn’t play at the tournament last year or scored the minimum number of points may not go to Wimbledon. Rafael Nadal, a 21-time Grand Slam champion who missed the main event on grass in 2021, falls into this category best of all.
What does the Spaniard think about the loss of ranking points at Wimbledon? “I don’t have a clear opinion on that. There’s always a board or a person who makes the decision, and all the players have to follow it. Every player has an opinion on everything, but in this world we need someone to make decisions. It doesn’t matter if I agree or disagree. At the end of the day, I understand both sides. I respect and understand the Wimbledon position, no doubt, but on the other hand, I understand and respect the ATP’s desire to protect its members,” the Spaniard said after his opening win at Roland Garros 2022.
And what about Djokovic – the most affected by the decision to deprive Wimbledon of ranking points? After all, last year he became champion of the tournament, got 2,000 points and now will not be able to defend them, risking to give the first place in the ranking to Medvedev or Zverev. “I’m upset because I won’t be able to defend a total of 4,000 points (for the Australian Open and Wimbledon). But I’m glad the ATP and governing bodies are standing up for the players. It shows Grand Slam tournaments that if they make the wrong decision – which Wimbledon did – there will be consequences. Wimbledon is still Wimbledon; it’s always been my childhood dream. I never saw it as a means to score ranking points, but I understand the group of affected players. “It’s a hopeless situation,” Djokovic said at a press conference after reaching the second round of Roland Garros.
Curiously, at the same press conference, Djokovic said that he had information that the Wimbledon organizers considered alternative solutions instead of suspending the Russians, but all rejected them: “I learned a few days ago that there were other options – other recommendations from the British government (besides the ban on Russian and Belarusian players), but they still decided themselves, without consulting anyone. The organizers could have considered, for example, ATP and WTA recommendations on exhibition events with players from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine playing during Grand Slam tournaments, or someone could play in a mix and give all the money to those affected in Ukraine. Something like that. There were a lot of different ideas, but there was no connection to Wimbledon. It just didn’t feel right. There were better decisions than affecting two groups of players at once. There should be some standards, criteria and mutual respect. It’s hard to say what’s right and what’s wrong. This is one of those situations where everybody loses.”