World No 78 Benoit Paire has criticised the ATP, saying: “I would like to talk about Wimbledon. I would like to know if ATP defends more [its] players or Russia”; it comes after the ATP and WTA announced there would be no points on offer at the All England Club this year
Last Updated: 24/05/22 8:08pm
Outspoken Frenchman Benoit Paire has demanded to know whether the ATP is ‘defending Russia’ after its decision to strip Wimbledon of ranking points.
The ATP and WTA announced on Friday that there would be no points on offer at the All England Club this year after Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing following the invasion of Ukraine.
Paire criticised the governing body after his defeat to Ilya Ivashka of Belarus in the first round of the French Open.
“I would like to talk about Wimbledon,” he said. “I would like to know if ATP defends more [its] players or Russia.
“This is why I wanted to talk with you guys. Because we are going to play a tournament without any points. When some people had Covid, we didn’t say, ‘oh, OK, we should cancel the tournament altogether’.
“But then we have three or four Russian players, including [Daniil] Medvedev, and we are rallying against Wimbledon.
“I think it’s a pity, because if we were to listen to all the players, players do not understand this decision – 99 per cent of players, they want to have points and to play the tournament as it was before. So I want to know if ATP wants to defend players or Russia?”
“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”
World No 1 Novak Djokovic and WTA player council member Sloane Stephens are among those who have backed the decision, but a number of players currently competing at Roland Garros have asked why they were not consulted.
“I will go there to get my prize money, as I would for an exhibition tournament,” added Paire.
“But the question is why didn’t they talk with players upstream? Yes, when they say there was a council which voted, nobody told us about this.
“If it’s a war between 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.”
US Open champion Medvedev could become world No 1 despite being banned from Wimbledon, as defending champion Djokovic stands to lose 2,000 points.
“Medvedev will be No 1 worldwide. This is absurd,” said Paire. “We should actually take [a] position for all the players in the world, and it’s the opposite that is being done right now.”
Medvedev calls decision ‘very strange’
Medvedev, who enjoyed a comfortable passage into the second round of the French Open, said: “Very strange. I need to be honest, but yeah, as I said last time, I’d be really happy to play Wimbledon. I love Wimbledon. I love playing on grass. I will play on grass after Roland Garros.
“But if I cannot, I mean, [I’m] just going to prepare for next tournaments, and, you know, just follow what’s happening there. (If) there are no points, I become number one, well, great for me.
“If there are points, I cannot become number one, I’m going to be gutted. It is what it is. I cannot change some decisions, both about ATP and Wimbledon.”
Rublev: When you have a deal, you cannot break it
Andrey Rublev said Wimbledon broke an agreement with the ATP over players’ participation at the Grand Slam and the Russian implored the men’s tour and the grass-court tournament’s organisers to come together to save the sport.
“When you have a deal, you cannot break it. And they did it,” he told reporters. “When we have a toxic relationship like now, only the bad things can happen.
“Even if, I don’t know, Wimbledon, they go together with other Slams and try to create another tour, it will only destroy tennis.”
Pliskova intends to play at Wimbledon
Karolina Pliskova described the WTA’s decision to strip Wimbledon of its ranking points as “unfair and bad”.
Due to Ashleigh Barty’s recent retirement, the 30-year-old will be hardest-hit and will lose 1300 points after finishing as runner-up to the Australian in last year’s final.
Despite the Czech disagreeing with the decision, she still intends to play at this year’s Championships.
“I want to win and I want to succeed and I want to maybe get the trophy because I was quite close last year,” she said.