ATP makes decision on UK events after Russian ban
Two events will proceed with rankings points despite Russian and Belarusian players being banned
UK tournaments in the build-up to Wimbledon have been spared a rankings punishment by the men’s ATP tour despite imposing bans on Russian and Belarusian players, although a decision on Wimbledon itself is still being discussed, officials have announced.
The UK Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) joined Wimbledon organizers the All England Club in announcing back in April that Russian and Belarusian players would be prohibited from competing at all events in Britain this summer due to the conflict in Ukraine.
That ruling was criticized by the men’s ATP tour and women’s equivalent the WTA, with reports that both organizations could deprive UK tournaments of rankings points in retaliation.
However, ATP officials announced on Monday that two traditional events in the lead-up to Wimbledon in June – at the Queen’s Club in London and at Eastbourne on the south coast – would go ahead with rankings points available.
“Following extensive consultation with the Player Council and Tournament Council, the ATP Board has today confirmed that this season’s ATP Tour events in Queen's and Eastbourne will proceed as normal, offering full ATP rankings points,” the ATP said in a statement shared by Reuters.
“LTA’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes is however contrary to ATP rules and undermines the ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination – a fundamental principle of the ATP Tour.
“Sanctions related to LTA’s violation of ATP rules will now be assessed separately under ATP governance. ATP’s response to Wimbledon's decision remains under review, with more to be communicated in due course,” it added.
Reports last week indicated that sentiment among the ATP Player Council – which includes Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer among its members – was in favor of removing rankings points from Wimbledon for this season.
That step would be seen to ensure that Russian and Belarusian players do not suffer due to their enforced absence, although they would evidently still miss out on the lucrative prize money that Wimbledon offers.
The women’s WTA has not revealed its decision on Wimbledon or warm-up tournaments held with the LTA in the UK, which will take place at Eastbourne as well as Birmingham and Nottingham.
Wimbledon officials have defended their decision to bar Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s grass court showpiece by arguing it is in line with UK government policy, and that the Russian leadership would somehow be handed a propaganda victory by the participation of players from the country.
Both the ATP and WTA have suggested that the ban is discriminatory. Big names from the sport such as 21-time Grand Slam winner Nadal and Serbian icon Novak Djokovic have both criticized the ban.
The second Grand Slam of the year, the French Open, will get underway this Sunday with Russian and Belarusian players free to compete under neutral status.