Daniil Medvedev remains hopeful he can feature at Wimbledon despite Russian and Belarusian players being banned from the tournament due to the conflict in Ukraine.

The All England Club, along with the Lawn Tennis Association, confirmed in April that Russian and Belarusian players would not be permitted to play this year, due to Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

That means unless the ATP and WTA can convince tournament organisers to rethink, men's world number two and reigning US Open champion Medvedev will not compete at Wimbledon.

The decision has split opinion in tennis, with the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev questioning the ruling, while Andy Murray expressed his backing.

However, Medvedev has not given up hope that Wimbledon may opt for a late change of heart and allow him to play.

"I don't know if this decision is 100 per cent and it's over [for me]," the Russian said.

"If I can play, I'm going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament. If I cannot play – well, I'm going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play."

Questions remain as to a potential backlash should Wimbledon exclude the two countries' players from appearing, with reports suggesting the ATP and WTA may remove ranking points from the tournament.

"I tried to follow what's happening because I don't have any decisions to make. It's right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved," Medvedev added.

"It's a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody's going to give a different opinion.

"[When] you show a tennis ball to 100 people, I'm sure some of them are going to say it's green and not yellow. I think it's yellow. [But] if somebody tells me it's green, I'm not going to get in conflict with this person."

Medvedev returns to action this week at the Geneva Open, where he faces Richard Gasquet or Australian John Millman in his opening match after recovering from a hernia injury that kept him out for six weeks.

Carlos Alcaraz declared he would be going to the French Open with the title in his sights after the teenage sensation stormed to Madrid Open glory.

The 19-year-old swatted aside a weary Alexander Zverev 6-3 6-1 in an hour and two minutes in Sunday's final.

That followed hard-fought three-set wins for Alcaraz over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, two of the pillars of men's tennis this century, and it points to a glorious future.

If the present moment seems good, then thoughts are already turning to what remarkable feats Alcaraz might achieve across his career.

He is widely considered a multiple slam winner in waiting, but must first knock off that first major.

The Spanish teenager has won a tour-leading four titles already in 2022, and he said on Tennis TV: "Yes, I think I'm ready to win a grand slam. I think I'm ready to go for it.

"This is a goal for me this year, try to get my first grand slam. I'm going to work for it and let's see what is going to happen at Roland Garros."

The French Open begins on May 22, and Alcaraz will skip the Internazionali d'Italia to ensure he is rested and focused on the tournament in Paris.

He reached the third round last year, but the Alcaraz of 12 months ago was not the winning machine he has become, a powerful striker of the ball who should fear nobody on the French clay.

Alcaraz has become the second-youngest player to win two Masters 1000 titles, after the 18-year-old Nadal in 2005, having added Madrid to his Miami triumph, and is the youngest, also since Nadal, to scoop five ATP Tour titles.

Alcaraz has a perfect record in title matches, becoming the sixth man in the Open Era to win his first five finals at tour level, and he has strung together seven consecutive wins against opponents ranked inside the top 10.

On Monday, he will jump three places to sixth in the ATP rankings, a new career high. Yet the teenager says there is plenty of scope for growing his game, as the likes of the 'Big Three' have shown.

"I think that I have to improve everything still," he said. "I have always said that you can improve everything. You never reach a limit.

"Look at Rafa, Djokovic, [Roger] Federer, all of them improve and they have things to improve. They keep on working and improving.

“That's what I want to do. I want to keep on progressing."

He added, quoted on the ATP official website: "I have really good shots. I don't say that I don't have them, but I know that I can improve them and they can be even better.”

In Madrid, Alcaraz became the youngest player to beat three top-five stars at the same tournament since the ATP Tour launched in 1990, by taking out top-ranked Djokovic, world number three Zverev and Nadal, who sits fourth in the rankings.

He leads the way for wins in the 2022 season as his 10th straight triumph takes him to 28 match victories for the campaign, one more than Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Ukrainian former tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky has questioned Rafael Nadal after the world number four said Russian and Belarusian players should not be banned from playing at Wimbledon.

The All England Club, along with the Lawn Tennis Association, confirmed last month that Russian and Belarusian players would not be able to feature in their tournaments this year, including Wimbledon.

That decision came in the wake of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which was backed by Belarus.

It means that men's world number two and reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, as it stands, will not be competing at the season's third grand slam.

The ATP and WTA both want a rethink of the decision, while Nadal – along with Novak Djokovic – spoke out against the ban. Andy Murray, meanwhile, said he does not support the move, though understands the major's organisers are in a difficult position. 

 

"I think it's very unfair on my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues," Nadal told reporters.

"It's not their fault what's happening in this moment with the war. I'm sorry for them. 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."

However, former world number 31 Stakhovsky, who returned to his homeland to aid the resistance to Russia's attack, vehemently disagrees.

On his official Twitter account, Stakhovsy wrote: "@RafaelNadal we competed together... we've played each other on tour.

"Please tell me how it is fair that Ukrainian players cannot return home?

"How it is fair that Ukrainian kids cannot play tennis? How is it fair that Ukrainians are dying?"

Stakohvsky told Stats Perform in March that he was driven to fight the Russian forces despite having no formal military training, and left his family to do so.

Andy Murray does not support the ban on Russian and Belarusian players competing at this year's Wimbledon or other Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) tournaments, while Novak Djokovic reiterated his stance.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club recently announced that players from the two nations are prohibited from competing in the British grand slam following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

It means the likes of men's world number two Daniil Medvedev and women's world number four Aryna Sabalenka would miss out on the British swing.

Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have both spoken out against the ban, while the ATP and WTA have also pressed for reconsideration.

Now Murray, a two-time Wimbledon champion who also won Olympic gold at SW19 in 2012, has refused to give the ban his backing.

"I'm not supportive of players getting banned," Murray said in a news conference ahead of the Madrid Open, with the former world number one in action against Dominic Thiem on Monday.

"My understanding of the guidance was that Russians and Belarusians can play if they sign a declaration that they're against the war and against the Russian regime.

"I'm not sure how comfortable I would feel if something happened to one of the players or their families."

 

Murray understands it is a delicate situation, however. 

"I don't think there's a right answer. I have spoken to some of the Russian players. I've spoken to some of the Ukrainian players," he continued.

"I feel really bad for the players who aren't allowed to play and I get that it will seem unfair to them. But I also know some of the people who work at Wimbledon, and I know how difficult a position they were in.

"I feel for everyone, feel for the players that can't play, and I don't support one side or the other."

There has been speculation that the ATP and WTA may sanction Wimbledon, with one possibility being reducing the amount of tour points on offer from the grand slam.

World number one Djokovic, who will be allowed to compete at Wimbledon, where no requirement for a COVID-19 vaccination will be in place for players, is unsure what the next step will be.

He told reporters: "I've spoken to some of the Russian players in Belgrade [at the Serbia Open].

"Obviously, it's not an easy situation to be in. Being stripped of the right to participate in one of the biggest tournaments, if not the biggest tournament in the world, it's hard, I understand that. There is frustration.

"[The] ATP is going to analyse the whole situation and understand what can be done. I have not spoken to people from ATP so I'm not sure about it. I've gone through something similar, it's not the same thing, but something similar earlier this year for myself [when he was denied entry to Australia due to his COVID-19 vaccination status].

"It's frustrating knowing that you're not able to play. I still stand by my position that I don't support the decision. I think it's just not fair. It's not right. But it is what it is, they are entitled to make the decision.

"I guess it's on Player Council, the tour management, to really decide, along with the players, what is the best solution in this situation whether they keep the points, protect the points, take away 50 per cent of the points.

"So I heard that some of those models are still considered to be used in this kind of instance, but I'm not sure what is right, what is wrong, to be honest. I guess we'll have to wait and see the outcome."

Rafael Nadal has described Wimbledon's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing at this year's tournament as "very unfair".

The All England Lawn Tennis Club recently announced that players from the two nations are prohibited from competing in the event following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

World number one Novak Djokovic labelled the decision "crazy", while Billie Jean King and governing bodies the ATP and WTA have also called for a rethink.

Nadal has now joined the ranks of those people questioning the decision, with the 35-year-old saying it is not fair on the players from those countries. 

"I think it's very unfair on my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues," Nadal told reporters.

"It's not their fault what's happening in this moment with the war. I'm sorry for them. 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."

Nadal will return to action following a rib injury at the Madrid Open in his homeland and the 21-time grand slam winner accepted that it might not be without difficulties. 

"Talking about the injury, I'm recovered, I feel good," Nadal added.

"Talking about my tennis game and preparations, well, it's a completely different story.

"Anyone who has broken a rib knows how limiting it is, very painful, especially the first weeks. I wasn't able to do anything without a lot of difficulties, even to fall asleep because of the pain.

"I have improved compared to when I came here but I still have ups and downs because it's been a long time without being in these kind of situations and it's going to be a difficult week, for sure."

Rafael Nadal remains confident that he will be fully fit in time for this month's French Open, despite still suffering from a "very disabling" rib injury.

The 35-year-old has been sidelined since sustaining a cracked rib during the Indian Wells Masters in March.

However, Nadal confirmed last week he intends to make his return to action on home soil at the Madrid Open next week.

And the Spaniard, who won a record 21st grand slam at the Australian Open in January, expects to be ready for Roland-Garros later this month.

"I have three weeks," he said on Saturday. "I trust that the daily training will help me to get ready.

"Here the demand [in high altitude in Madrid] is maximum, but what can be done is going to be done.

"The most important thing is to be healthy, but I think that going to Paris I'm on time. Three weeks is enough time to get competitive."

He added: "I have trained very little, because the rib is very disabling and also very painful. I had two very bad weeks and afterwards it has been very, very disabling.

"I haven't been able to do practically anything, but it's here, at home, in Madrid."

Thirteen-time French Open winner Nadal will face either Alexander Bublik or Miomir Kecmanovic in the second round of the Madrid Open.

The third seed is on a collision course with highly rated compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-finals at the Caja Magica.

Boris Becker has received a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for breaking the United Kingdom's insolvency laws.

He was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court in London on Friday. 

The six-time grand slam champion had denied violating the Insolvency Act after he was declared bankrupt in 2017.

Becker, 54, owed creditors close to £50million at the time of his bankruptcy. However, he has now been found guilty of hiding assets and loans in order to avoid paying his debts.

The German was cleared of 20 counts but found guilty of four charges by a jury earlier this month. 

Becker was previously given a two-year suspended sentence for tax evasion and attempted tax evasion in Germany in 2002.

Novak Djokovic will be able to defend his Wimbledon title this year as players will not need to be vaccinated against coronavirus to feature in the tournament.

World number one Djokovic was unable to compete in the 2022 Australian Open after he was deported from the country in January.

The Australian government cancelled the Serbian's visa on "health and good order" grounds and he failed with an attempt to overturn that decision in court.

Djokovic will be able to play in the grass-court grand slam at the All England Club, though, due to a lack of COVID-19 restrictions in the United Kingdom.

All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) chief executive Sally Bolton said during a media briefing on Tuesday: "As you will be aware, the requirements set up by the government to enter the UK do not include mandatory vaccinations.

"Therefore, whilst of course it is encouraged, it will not be a condition of entry in order to compete in the Championships this year."

Djokovic can also play in the French Open following the easing of restrictions.

There will be no Russian or Belarusian players when Wimbledon is staged from June 27 to July 10 at SW19 due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt says the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from Wimbledon was the "most responsible decision possible in the circumstances."

Organisers of the grass-court grand slam confirmed this month that players from both nations would be barred from featuring in the tournament due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The decision was met by a significant backlash, with world number eight Andrey Rublev describing the decision as "discrimination" and Novak Djokovic stating he could not support it.

But speaking at the 2022 Wimbledon media briefing, Hewitt sought to clarify the process by which the decision was made.

"After lengthy and careful consideration we came to two firm conclusions that have formed the basis for our decision," he told reporters.

"First, even if we were to accept entries from Russia and Belarusian players with written declarations we would risk their success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime which we could not accept.

"Second, we have a duty to ensure that no actions we take should put the safety of players or their families at risk."

All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) chief executive Sally Bolton shed further light on the process of making such an "an immensely difficult decision." 

"We recognise that whatever decision we took would be setting a precedent," she added.

"We made our judgement in the scale of the response to an international war, the consequences of which reach far wider than the sport of tennis.

"We appreciate that this is an immensely difficult decision, and that people have different views which we respect and understand.

"We are deeply regretful of the impact that this will have on every single player who is affected.

"We are in ongoing dialogue with the players, with the tours, with the ITF and with our fellow grand slams, and will continue to work with them over the coming weeks.

"We believe that this decision is the only viable option for Wimbledon."

Wimbledon also confirmed that players who have not received a coronavirus vaccination will be allowed to enter the tournament. 

Djokovic hit the headlines when he was unable to play in the Australian Open this year after being deported due to his vaccination status.

Novak Djokovic is "progressing slowly but surely" ahead of the French Open as the world number one took positives from his run to the Serbia Open final.

The Serbian remains without an ATP Tour title this season after losing 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-0 to Andrey Rublev on home clay in Belgrade on Sunday.

It has been a disrupted 2022 for Djokovic, having been prevented from playing the Australian Open due to his unvaccinated status, a factor which also meant he was barred from competing in tournaments in the United States last month.

He only made it as far as the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championships in his first tournament of the year in February and suffered a surprise loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the last 32 of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Djokovic showed signs of improvement in Serbia, though, as he defeated Laslo Djere, Miomir Kecmanovic and Karen Khachanov en route to reaching the final.

Rublev proved a step too far for Djokovic, who faded badly in the deciding set against an opponent aged 10 years younger, but the 34-year-old is remaining upbeat ahead of next month's French Open.

"Things are progressing slowly but surely," he said. "Paris is the big goal and hopefully by Paris I'll be ready.

"I have to look at the positives – playing the final in front of my home crowd, it was unfortunate that in the third set I ran out of gas and couldn't deliver more of a fight.

"After four three-set battles I can say that I am tired but also pleased that I managed to win the matches prior to this one.

"I think that will serve me for the continuation of the clay-court season."

Djokovic is set to return to action at the Madrid Masters in a little over a week's time, an event he enters as top seed.

Andrey Rublev says Wimbledon's ban on Russian and Belarusian players is "complete discrimination" and does not make sense.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club this week announced that players from the two nations are prohibited from competing in the event following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Rublev is one of three top-10 players, alongside compatriot Daniil Medvedev and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who has been blocked from playing at SW19 in June. 

World number one Novak Djokovic labelled the decision "crazy", while Billie Jean King and governing bodies ATP and WTA have also called for a rethink.

Rublev, whose best finish at Wimbledon came last year when reaching round four, believes there is a more logical solution.

"What is happening now is complete discrimination against us," he told reporters after beating Jiri Lehecka on Thursday to progress to the Serbia Open quarter-finals.

"The reasons they gave us had no sense, they were not logical. Banning Russian or Belarusian players... will not change anything.

"To give all the prize money would have a more positive effect to humanitarian help, to the families who are suffering, to the kids who are suffering.

"I think that would do something. Tennis will, in that case, be the first and only sport who donates that amount of money and it will be Wimbledon so they will take all the glory."

The Belarusian Tennis Federation released a statement on Thursday stating it is seeking legal advice regarding the decision to ban their players from Wimbledon.

"Such destructive actions in no way contribute to the resolution of conflicts but only incite hatred and intolerance on a national basis," the governing body said.

Billie Jean King has spoken out against the ban on Russian and Belarusian players imposed at Wimbledon this year as a result of the war in Ukraine. 

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced on Wednesday that players from the two nations would not be eligible for the grand slam, with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) stating it would implement the same rule across all its upcoming tournaments. 

Upon announcing its decision, the AELTC cited a responsibility "to limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible". 

The blanket ban rules the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka out of contention, and that is something King is against. 

She posted on Twitter: "The decision of the LTA and AELTC regarding Russian and Belarusian players at this year's tournament was a difficult and complex undertaking, and I appreciate the challenges and pressures they are facing. 

"One of the guiding principles of the founding of the WTA was that any girl in the world, if she was good enough, would have a place to compete. 

"I stood by that in 1973 and I stand by that today. I cannot support the banning of individual athletes from any tournament, simply because of their nationality. 

"Tennis is stronger when we stand together, and our continue support of the Tennis Plays for Peace initiative, which provides meaningful financial support and resources to Ukraine, needs to be our focus." 

The ATP and WTA criticised the AELTC's decision, while Martina Navratilova and Novak Djokovic have also voiced their opposition. 

In a statement published on Thursday, the Belarusian Tennis Federation (BTF) said it was seeking legal advice. 

"The Belarusian Tennis Federation categorically condemns the decision taken by the organisers of Wimbledon to suspend Belarusian and Russian tennis players. Such destructive actions in no way contribute to the resolution of conflicts, but only incite hatred and intolerance on a national basis," read the release. 

"Throughout the history of tennis, armed conflicts have occurred in the world – in Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Yugoslavia and other countries – but not until now have tournament organisers suspended athletes from the United States, Great Britain and other countries. 

"Illegal decisions of international tennis organizations in relation to our athletes undermines the reputation of these organisations. 

"Consultations of the BTF leadership with international law firms on sports law are ongoing and a strategy is being developed that is aimed at protecting Belarusian tennis players around the world." 

Novak Djokovic "cannot support" Wimbledon's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competition this year.

The All-England Club moved to suspend players from the two nations from entering this year's grand slam event, amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The decision is the latest major sporting sanction against the two nations, with Russia barred from World Cup qualification for Qatar 2022 and the Formula One Russian Grand Prix cancelled.

It has been met with considerable pushback, however, with the ATP blasting the decision as "unfair".

Now Djokovic has come out against it too, arguing it is not the fault of the players, who are being punished for actions beyond their control.

"I will always be the first one to condemn the war," said Djokovic, who is currently in action on home soil in the Serbia Open. "As a child of war, I know what kind of emotional trauma a war leaves.

"Us in Serbia, we know what was happening here in 1999. Ordinary people always suffer – we've had lots of wars in the Balkans.

"That being said, I cannot support the Wimbledon decision. It's not the athletes' fault. When politics interfere with sport, it usually doesn't turn out well."

Eighteen-time grand slam winner Martina Navratilova also pushed back against the move in an interview on LBC Radio.

"The Russian and Belarusian players, some have even expressed, vocalised, their opposition to the war," she added.

"The only option therefore now for them to play would be to leave their country.

"That’s something that I had to do in 1975, because of a totalitarian regime and now we are asking them to do the same, because of politics, because of optics.

"I understand the banning of teams, of course, representing the countries, but on an individual level, I just think it's wrong."

Daniil Medvedev headlines the list of Russian and Belarusian players who will be banned from competing at Wimbledon this year.

In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which was facilitated by Belarus, the four grand slams and the ATP and WTA Tours initially confirmed Russian and Belarusian players would be able to continue playing, albeit under neutral flags.

However, the All England Club has now decided athletes from the two nations will be unable to feature at the season's third grand slam.

That means reigning US Open champion Medvedev, ranked second in the world by the ATP behind Novak Djokovic, will not be involved.

With Medvedev a doubt for the French Open having undergone hernia surgery, he could miss two of this year's majors. He has never had much success at Wimbledon, with his best run ending in the fourth round in 2021.

WTA world number four Aryna Sabalenka, who hails from Belarus, is another big name to miss out, along with Russian ATP world number eight Andrey Rublev, who has won two titles so far in 2022.

Russian women's number one Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, compatriot and 2018 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Daria Kasatkina and Belarusian two-time All England Club semi-finalist Victoria Azarenka will all also be absent.

"We share in the universal condemnation of Russia's illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation in the context of our duties to the players, to our community and to the broader UK public as a British sporting institution," a statement on the official Wimbledon website read.

"We have also taken into account guidance set out by the UK Government specifically in relation to sporting bodies and events.

"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."

Chairman of the All England Club, Ian Hewitt, said: "We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime.

"We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships."

Wimbledon's statement confirmed that the ban would be "reconsidered" should circumstances change by June.

The move comes a month after UK sports minister Nigel Huddleston warned Medvedev and other Russian athletes they might be banned from Wimbledon unless they denounced president Vladimir Putin.

Medvedev and Rublev both called for peace in the immediate aftermath of Russia's attack on Ukraine.

Serena Williams appeared to shut down premature talk of calling time on her career by declaring that she hopes to return from injury in time for Wimbledon.

The 40-year-old has not played competitively since losing to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round of last year's tournament at SW19 and is now ranked at 246 in the world.

Williams' future in the sport was called into question on Thursday when her long-time coach Patrick Mouratoglou announced he will now work with Simona Halep.

However, the 23-time major winner – who has been coached by Mouratoglou since 2012 – has moved to confirm her intention to return to top-level tennis in the coming months.

Speaking alongside Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at an event in Miami, Williams said: "We've been talking about my comeback and he's been hyping me up.

"He's getting me ready for Wimbledon. Can't wait!"

Williams is one major title shy of matching Margaret Court's long-standing record of 24, having been beaten in four finals since her most recent triumph at the 2017 Australian Open.

She missed last year's US Open on home soil, as well as the 2022 Australian Open in January.

Rodgers was surprised at Williams' Wimbledon announcement and asked: "What about the US Open?", to which the ex-world number one replied: "Wimbledon is first".

The grass-court grand slam gets under way on June 27.

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