Denis Shapovalov is against the Wimbledon ban on Russian and Belarusian players, but he also disagrees with tennis’ governing bodies’ decision to strip the grasscourt Grand Slam of ranking points, the Canadian world number 15 said on Tuesday.
The men’s ATP and women’s WTA last week took away ranking points from Wimbledon after its organisers decided to exclude players from Russia and Belarus in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ranking points determine a player’s ability to enter tennis events and receive seedings, so stripping them from Wimbledon effectively reduces the event to an exhibition tournament.
Shapovalov, whose mother is from Ukraine and whose father is from Russia, reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year.
He will be one of many players to be impacted by their inability to defend the points they earned last year at Wimbledon and will drop down the rankings.
“I don’t agree with either,” the 23-year-old former world number 10 told reporters after his first-round exit from the French Open. “I think first of all, if you have a pro competition, everybody should be competing.
“I completely understand the politics and the situation they’re in. But again, if you have a tennis tournament that’s supposed to have the best athletes in the world, it shouldn’t matter where you’re from.
“I also don’t agree with the ATP to take out all the points. The most guys it’s affecting are the guys in the top rankings.”
Japan’s four-time major champion Naomi Osaka said on Monday that she was “not 100% sure” of playing Wimbledon without the ranking points.
Shapovalov said most of the players were not consulted before the decision and wished the ATP had not taken all points away from the tournament.
“It’s difficult. I think they could have gone with it a different way, maybe keep 50% like they have in the past or some kind of fairness,” he said.
“It’s difficult for the players when you don’t have a chance to defend and especially on a surface like grass where it (the season) is already so short and the players that play well on that surface they don’t have that many opportunities to make points, so you take a huge chunk of it out, it’s super difficult for players.”
Russian Andrey Rublev said Wimbledon broke an agreement with the ATP over players’ participation at the major and the world number seven implored the men’s tour and the grasscourt tournament’s organizers 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.” (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Toby Davis)