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Rafael Nadal determined to stand up for banned Russian players at Wimbledon

By Dylan Terry
Getty Images

Rafa Nadal insists it is his “job” to stick up for the Russian and Belarusian players who have been banned from this year’s Wimbledon.

The decision, which was announced last month, comes in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Belarus’ support of the war.

It means players such as the men’s No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and women’s No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka will be unable to enter the tournament.

And while Nadal did not go as far as to oppose the decision, he was empathetic with the players who are set to miss out.

As quoted by The Telegraph, he said: “The only thing we can do is be in touch with Wimbledon and the rest of the ATP management to do the things that work better to protect every single player in the ATP.

“At the end, that’s our job: to protect the players and to work [to] the benefit of every single player that we are representing.”

Nadal’s latest comments come after he previously said: “I think it’s very unfair to my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues. In that sense it’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war.”

Following the decision, a row has ensued between the ATP player council and Wimbledon amid calls for the Grand Slam to have its ranking points stripped.

Justifying the decision, the All England Club released a statement which read: “Given the profile of The Championships in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of Government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible.

“In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships.

“It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022.”

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