Cameron Norrie wants 'best players in the world' at Wimbledon as ban row continues

Russian and Belarusian players banned from the 2022 tournament over invasion of Ukraine

Cameron Norrie competed at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi this weekend. AFP
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British No 1 Cameron Norrie said he wants to see the best players in the world competing at Wimbledon next year after the Grand Slam tournament banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2022 event.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club made the decision to ban players from those countries as a response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It proved a contentious decision, with the ATP and WTA opting to strip ranking points from this year's tournament.

Among the leading male players to be affected by the ban were Russian pair Daniil Medvedev - at the time of the tournament, the world No 1 - and compatriot Andrey Rublev, the world No 8.

Reports emerged last week that Wimbledon could reverse the ban after being hit by fines from the ATP and WTA, and while Norrie refused to be drawn into the saga, Britain's top-ranked player said he had some personal sympathy for Medvedev and Rublev.

"It's tough to know what the thought process is from any side - from the ITF, from Wimbledon, from the ATP - I'm not really sure at the moment," Norrie, 27, said.

"For me, I want the best players in the world to be playing. This year, it was tough for those guys, especially for Daniil and Andrey, who had a real chance of winning Wimbledon, and I know how much those guys sacrifice for their careers. Their goals are obviously high and to be winning Slams.

"I don't really know what's going to happen moving forward, and for me, I'm just going to focus on my own stuff. This year I had a great run there and hopefully can do it again but next time earn some ranking points."

Norrie was speaking after competing at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, where he defeated Croatia's Borna Coric in the fifth-place playoff on Saturday.

The world No 14's participation in the capital continued his Middle Eastern pre-season having competed at the Diriyah Cup in Saudi Arabia last week, and after some time off during the off-season, the focus is trying to get some matches in the legs ahead of the Australian Open next month.

"I came here to play the best players and I did that," Norrie said. "Most of the time during pre-season you're playing in practice courts so it's a good chance to play a proper match against the top guys in a stadium court and have that match environment.

"I think I'm playing quite well. I took a couple of weeks to reset, didn't really leave my couch. I'd been travelling the whole year so it was really nice. I started strong in Saudi last week and I've just been building and building. For my game I need to pride myself on being physical so getting these training weeks in is a big part of my preparation."

Updated: December 17, 2022, 4:05 PM