Andrey Rublev urged a reporter to ask Roger Federer and Rafael Nada l why they have not spoken up about Russian and Belarusian players being banned from Wimbledon.
Earlier this month Wimbledon confirmed that players from both nations would be barred from competing at SW19, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Rublev was one player to react furiously to the news, calling the ban “illogical” and arguing that bosses could instead have donated prize money to those affected by the war.
Novak Djokovic also spoke out, saying the conflict was not the fault of tennis players. He also praised Rublev after the Russian beat him in the final of the recent Serbia Open.
The ATP and WTA, who have permitted players from both countries to compete in tour events under a neutral banner, have warned Wimbledon bosses they may face legal action over their decision. However, there has been no word on the controversy as yet from two legendary figures in the sport.
Neither Nadal, who this year claimed an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam title when he won the Australian Open, or Federer have had their say. The pair were also seemingly quiet over the disappearance of Peng Shuai, despite many fellow tennis stars voicing concern for her welfare.
In an interview with championhat, world No.5 Rublev said he was at a loss to explain the apparent silence of the pair: “Honestly, I don’t know. No guesswork. It’s probably better to ask them that question,” he said, via sportskeeda.
“I don’t want to throw too much conjecture to misinform. Is it because of the image or do they have a different opinion? I don’t know.”
The rising star didn’t hold back in Belgrade when news of the Wimbledon sanctions came through, ranting: “The reasons they gave us had no sense, they were not logical,” he told the AFP news agency. “What is happening now is complete discrimination against us.”
The ban will also be a blow to Rublev’s ambitions to become the top player in the world, a target that appears realistic after winning three ATP titles this year. “The goals are big: I want to climb higher and higher, try to reach number one in ATP,” he admitted.
“If you want to become the first in the ranking, you need to be able to beat top players.” Rublev will be among the favourites for the French Open, with chiefs at Roland Garros not following the same route as those at SW19.
Nadal, a 13-time champion in Paris, looks set to be in fine shape for the event after confirming he will return for the Madrid Open this week. The Spaniard has been out of action since injuring his rib at Indian Wells.
Federer meanwhile, is yet to set a date for his return. The Swiss maestro has not played since undergoing a third bout of knee surgery in 2021.