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Wimbledon Facing Possibility Of Becoming 'Exhibition' Tournament Over Russia Ban

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Wimbledon Facing Possibility Of Becoming 'Exhibition' Tournament Over Russia Ban

Wimbledon faces the prospect of becoming the tennis' richest exhibition tournament, with threats over the grand slam losing ranking points status.

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The ATP and WTA tours had allowed athletes to continue performing and they will be able to enter the French Open, starting in 11 days time.

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But the All England Club, which runs Wimbledon, decided to make an independent decision away from the two main tours and ban the athletes.

Current Wimbledon champion Djokovic is one of the players to have hit out at the tournament's decision. Image: PA Images
Current Wimbledon champion Djokovic is one of the players to have hit out at the tournament's decision. Image: PA Images

The LTA then followed suit and banned them from all the grass court warm up competitions in the UK, such as the Cinch Championship's, at Queen's Club, and the Rothesay International in Eastbourne.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were amongst the names to speak out against the decision, and now the grand slam tournament, and the rest in England, could be punished.

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According to the Daily Mail, there have been behind the scenes meetings at the Madrid Open, last week, and the Italian Open, in Rome, this week on what to do.

The report claims that Wimbledon, and the other LTA events, could be stripped of official ranking points, essentially making them all exhibition tournaments.

That could mean a slew of players backing out of playing in the lesser tournaments, in favour of competing in other grass court tournaments in Germany and the rest of Europe.

World number two Daniil Medvedev would be the highest profile player to miss out if the ban stands.  Image: PA Images
World number two Daniil Medvedev would be the highest profile player to miss out if the ban stands. Image: PA Images
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In turn that would reduce the amount of interest in the tournaments in England, both live and on the television, with highly ranked players such as Matteo Berrettini, Casper Rudd and Carlos Alcaraz, all currently signed up to play Queen's, potentially backing out.

The player's representatives on the ATP are particularly inclined to take a hard line on Wimbledon, which wouldn't be affected by any pull outs due to the prize money and stature still on offer.

It would still be a blow to the tournament at SW19 however, with it rendered a very high profile exhibition for at least the current year.

No decision has been made by the ATP as yet, although it could be early as sometime this week, and the women's WTA would likely follow with the same decision.

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World number eight Matteo Berrettini won last year's Queen's tournament but could he decide to back out if ranking points aren't on offer? Image: PA Images
World number eight Matteo Berrettini won last year's Queen's tournament but could he decide to back out if ranking points aren't on offer? Image: PA Images

Nadal called the decision to ban the players 'unfair,' but a former tennis player from Ukraine, who is now defending his country on the frontline, hit back at the Australian Open champion.

"Rafael Nadal, we competed together. We've played each other on Tour. Please tell me how it is fair that Ukrainian players cannot return home," Sergiy Stakhovsky asked on social media.

"...If anyone could please find a quote where Russian or Belarus players condemn the invasion in Ukraine?

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"And don't tag the "no war" or "stop war" because these statements sound like if the Ukrainians stopped fighting the war would stop."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Tennis, Wimbledon, Russia

Ryan Sidle
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