“It’s very unfair of my Russian tennis mates, it’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war”


Rafael Nadal has spoken out for the first time regarding Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from participating in the event. He believes it is “unfair” on the players as they have no part in the current war between Ukraine and Russia.

Wimbledon recently confirmed that all Russian and Belarusian players will be denied entry into the grasscourt Slam due to Russia’s invasion and continued aggression against Ukraine. Belarus has supported Russia in their conquest, which is why players from the Lukashenko regime have also been handed a similar fate.

Several players, including Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, will miss out on the men’s side, with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic having repeatedly voiced his displeasure against the decision.

Rafael Nadal has now echoed the same during his press conference ahead of his comeback at the Madrid Open. Speaking to the media, the Mallorcan made it clear that he sympathizes with the Russian and Belarusian athletes, who are missing out for no fault of their own.

“I think it’s very unfair of my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues. In that sense it’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war,” said Rafael Nadal. “In that sense, well, you know, talking about colleagues, I don’t know what to say. 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.”

The Mallorcan hinted that things might still change but stressed that it is difficult to go against decisions influenced directly by the government, which he reckons has been the case in Wimbledon’s move to ban Russian and Belarusian players.

“From there onwards we will see what happens,” Nadal went on. “Let’s see what happens in the next weeks, if the players will take some kind of decision in that regard. In that sense, well, there is one thing that’s negative, you know, there are things that are clear.”

“When the government imposes some restrictions, you just have to follow them,” he added. “In that case, the government gave a recommendation, and Wimbledon just took their decision, the more drastic position that they could take without taking into account — the government didn’t force them to do it.”

The 21-time Major champion highlighted the importance of the Grand Slams on tour, pointing out that even though the Majors are not part of the ATP tour, they are vitally important as they carry 2,000 ranking points.

“So that makes that, you know, for our games, that we are in the organization, the ATP, of tennis players and tournaments, we are clear that the Grand Slams are out of all of it,” Nadal said. “But at the end of the day, it’s not less true that we are ATP, are the tournament that have the most points, right? They are the most important. The 2,000 points, whenever we go to the Grand Slams, they are really important and we have to go to those tournaments.”

“What happens in our game is, you know, it doesn’t have any importance when we can see so many people dying” – Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal hinted that players could take some action against Wimbledon’s decision and reiterated that banned players have been handed the short end of the stick.

However, Nadal firmly believes that such situations pale in comparison to the actual turmoil unfolding in Ukraine.

“We will have to see the measures that we take, and it’s very unfair thing for them, for sure,” Nadal explained. “But unfortunately, I would say that in this moment, you know, being a very complicated situation for those Russian players, you know, there is a lot of things happening, Russia and Ukraine, and at the end of the day, what happens in our game is, you know, it doesn’t have any importance when we can see so many people dying and suffering and seeing the bad situation they are having in Ukraine, very serious.”

Edited by Nihal Taraporvala