Nadal calls Wimbledon ban on Russian players unfair, Murray says there is no right answer

All England Club has ben criticised by ATP and WTA for excluding players from Russia and Belarus at the championship

Rafael Nadal during a practice session at the Madrid Open. Getty
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Spanish star Rafael Nadal has described Wimbledon's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players as “unfair".

The 21-time major winner believes the All England Club went for the most “drastic option”, and hopes the tours can find a way to counteract the ban.

Wimbledon has been criticised by both the ATP and WTA – as well as players such as Nadal and Novak Djokovic – for implementing the ban following Russia's military action in Ukraine. However, Andy Murray said that while he is “not supportive” of the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players, there was no “right answer” to the difficult situation.

The ban rules out many star names, including men's world No 2 Daniil Medvedev and last year's women's semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

“It's unfair for my Russian colleagues,” said Nadal. “In that sense it's not their fault what's happening in this moment with the war.

“I'm sorry for them. I wish it was not this way, but at the end of the day we know that this is what we have.”

Nadal, who is returning to competitive tennis at the Madrid Masters after a six-week break due to a rib injury, said it is up to him and his fellow players to take a stand.

“As a fellow player, what can I say? I feel sorry for them,” said the 35-year-old.

“I wish this was not the case. Let's see what happens in the coming weeks and let's see if we as players need to take a stand. There is something wrong.”

The Spaniard also criticised organisers for taking the most extreme step. “When a government orders something, you need to follow the rules,” he added.

“In this case, the government issued a recommendation and Wimbledon decided to impose the most drastic option without being forced to do so.”

Meanwhile, Murray said the guidance from the government “was not helpful".

Andy Murray said the decision by Wimbledon to bar Russian players is a complicated one. AP

“I'm not supportive of players getting banned,” the former world No1 said in Spain ahead of the Madrid Open.

“My understanding of the guidance was that Russians and Belarusians can play if they sign a declaration that they're against the war and against the Russian regime. I'm not sure how comfortable I would feel if something happened to one of the players or their families [as a result].

“I don't think there's a right answer. I have spoken to some of the Russian players. I've spoken to some of the Ukrainian players. I feel really bad for the players who aren't allowed to play and I get that it will seem unfair to them.

“But I also know some of the people who work at Wimbledon, and I know how difficult a position they were in. I feel for everyone, feel for the players that can't play, and I don't support one side or the other.”

World No 1 Novak Djokovic has also criticised the ban, stating that he had spoken to Russian players during last week's Serbia Open and it was tough for them to be excluded from the biggest tournament in the world.

“It's hard. I understand that there is frustration. ATP is going to, I guess, analyse the whole situation and understand what can be done,” said the Serbian.

“I still stand by my position that I don't support the decision. I think it's just not fair, it's not right … now I guess it's on player council, the tour management, to really decide along with the players what is the best solution in this situation.”

Updated: May 02, 2022, 10:07 AM