The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced the move last week, in response to Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players at this summer’s Championships in wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian and Belarusian teams are currently barred from international competition, but Wimbledon is the only major tennis event not allowing individuals to compete under a neutral flag.
A number of the game’s stars, including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, criticised that decision, but the move to take ranking points away from the sport’s most prestigious tournament has also been met with widespread opposition from players, who face not only missing out on the chance to pick up ranking points this year, but also stand to lose 100 per cent of those earned at SW19 last summer, since they are technically unable to defend them.
Many face significant drops in the world rankings as a result, and in the men’s game there is the farcical possibility of Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, who cannot play in the tournament, rising to world No1 because incumbent Djokovic will lose the 2,000 points he gained for winning at Wimbledon in 2021 even if he retains his title.
The row has overshadowed the opening days of the French Open at Roland Garros, with four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka revealing she is considering skipping Wimbledon due to the lack of points on offer.
“99 per cent of players want to have points and to play the tournament as it was before, so I want to know if the ATP wants to defend [the] players or Russia,” said France’s Benoit Paire yesterday.
“If it’s a war between the ATP and Wimbledon, it’s not nice for us, because we want to play normally. I’m sorry for Russia and Russians, but they are the ones causing all the trouble. And all the ATP players are actually paying the price.”