Naomi Osaka, Wimbledon Ranking, Novak Djokovic, updates, reaction, Russian invasion, ban, tennis news
Novak Djokovic has said he “intends to go to Wimbledon” to defend his title despite controversy over the tournament being deprived of ranking points.
“Yes, I intend to go to Wimbledon,” Djokovic said after beating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round of French Open.
However, he added that the tournament’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players was a “mistake”.
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“I am happy that the players have come together with the ATP and the governing bodies. It shows the Grand Slam tournaments that when there is a mistake – there has been on the Wimbledon side – that there will be consequences,” he said after beating 99th-placed Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 6-1, 6-0.
“Wimbledon is still Wimbledon, it was my childhood dream, I never watched it for points or prize money, but I understand the group of players involved. It’s a lose-lose situation.
Wimbledon chiefs have called the two-tour decision ‘disproportionate’, which threatens to downgrade the sport’s most prestigious tennis tournament to exhibition status.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic would lose 2,000 points and his world number one spot as a result.
“On a personal, individual level, I was very negatively affected by this,” Djokovic said.
It comes after former world number one Naomi Osaka revealed she was ready to boycott Wimbledon over the decision to strip the Grand Slam tournament of ranking points, admitting: “I’m leaning towards not playing”.
“I would say the decision kind of affects my mentality of going to the grass, like I’m not 100% sure if I’m going,” Osaka said after their 7-5, 6-4 loss. against Amanda Anisimova in the first round of Roland-Garros.
The ATP and WTA tours last week took away ranking points at Wimbledon after the All England Club banned Russian and Belarus players in response to the Ukraine invasion.
“I’m leaning more towards not playing given the current circumstances. I’m the kind of player who gets motivated by seeing his ranking go up,” added the four-time Major winner.
“The intention of this measure was good, but the execution is everywhere. I’m sure there will be a bit of back and forth with the whole situation. Then I guess I’ll make my decision.
“I feel like if I play Wimbledon without points it’s more like an exhibition,” added Osaka, who has never made it past the third round at the All England Club.
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World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who wore a Ukrainian ribbon for her first-round victory on Monday, said she was happy to still be playing at Wimbledon, with or without points.
“I agree to play without points. It’s Wimbledon. It’s one of the most important tournaments of the season,” Swiatek said.
“But it would be nice if the people who make the decisions made decisions that will stop Russia’s aggression.”
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The Wimbledon ban will exclude the likes of US Open champion and second-ranked Daniil Medvedev as well as former world number one and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka.
Belarusian Azarenka, Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2011 and 2012, sits on the powerful WTA Players Council.
However, she refused to delve into the issue of player bans or ranking points which threatens to overshadow preparations for Wimbledon which begin on June 27.
“I think there will be as many players in the draw, as many opinions as there are,” the 32-year-old said when asked if the players would boycott the tournament.
“In my experience on the tour, people say a lot of things, they do things differently. So I’m not going to take anyone’s word for it and we’ll see what happens.
Rafael Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 Wimbledon champion, said he wanted the stalemate to end quickly.
“I respect and understand Wimbledon’s position; I also understand and respect that the ATP protects its members,” said the 21-time Grand Slam winner.
“I hope the ATP and Wimbledon can be together and sit together and negotiate a better future for both parties. The ATP board has made a decision. We have to accept this decision.
On Sunday, John Isner admitted he was “not so happy” playing at Wimbledon. Isner won the longest match in tennis history – an 11 hour and 5 minute marathon – at Wimbledon in 2010.
“I’m not that happy with Wimbledon. I could just show up on Saturday and maybe I’ll play on Monday and see what happens because our currency on tour is points,” the American said.
Australians Ajla Tomljanovic and Chris O’Connell have expressed similar concerns over the rankings debate.
“I don’t think they will keep the points earned from 2021, they will be erased and you won’t have a chance to defend your points anymore. It’s very unfair, in my opinion,” said Tomljanovic AAP.
“My ambition is to be in the top 100. If I go to Wimbledon then I qualify first and lose a week there. And if I happen to qualify, then I lose another week,” O’Connell said.
“So I talk with the coaches about what I’m going to do, to be honest. I don’t know if I’ll play.”