Sport Tennis Nadal joins Djokovic, other stars in slamming Wimbledon ban
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Nadal joins Djokovic, other stars in slamming Wimbledon ban

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Grand slam legends Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have criticised Wimbledon’s decision to exclude players from Russia and Belarus following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I think it’s very unfair of (on) my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues … it’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war,” said Nadal in Spain, where he and Djokovic are preparing to play in the Madrid Open.

“I’m sorry for them,” Nadal said.

“Wimbledon just took their decision … the government didn’t force them to do it.

“Let’s see what happens in the next weeks, if the players will take some kind of decision in that regard.”

Prominent players affected by the ban include reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, and French Open runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who are all from Russia. Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, which has aided Russian forces, would also be unable to play.

Djokovic, who has already labelled the ban “crazy”, compared the situation of the excluded players to what he went through in January when he was unable to play the Australian Open. He was deported from Australia with his visa cancelled after arriving unvaccinated for COVID-19.

“It’s not the same thing, but going through something similar earlier this year for myself, it’s frustrating knowing that you’re not able to play,” Djokovic said.

“I still stand by my position that I don’t support the [Wimbledon] decision. I think it’s just not fair, it’s not right, but it is what it is.”

The ATP and WTA tennis tours have both publicly criticised the All England Club’s decision, which was announced April 20.

Wimbledon starts on June 27.

The All England Club had justified its action in a statement first posted on Twitter.

“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,” the statement said.