Points to Ponder: With No ATP, WTA Rankings at Stake, Players Mull Skipping Wimbledon ‘Exhibition’
Naomi Osaka said Wimbledon without points would be like an exhibition and felt she would struggle for motivation.
Novak Djokovic — barring unforeseen circumstances — will defend his title at Wimbledon despite knowing that the championship will not help him strengthen his hold on the World No. 1 spot. However, he supports the decision by the ATP (men’s tour) to withhold ranking points from that tournament. Personal loss notwithstanding, Djokovic feels that ATP’s decision presents a unified front for pointing out a mistake.
Djokovic called the All England Club’s ban of players from Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine “a mistake”.
“They haven’t discussed it with anybody from ATP or any individual players — or, for that matter, Russian or Belarusian players — to just communicate and understand whether there is a common ground where both sides could be making a compromise and something could work out,” Djokovic said after his first round victory at the French Open. “So I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all.”
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The All England Club — organisers of the Wimbledon — announced last month it will not allow players from Russia or Belarus to compete at the Grand Slam beginning on June 27. WImbledon’s move was criticised by many in the tennis fraternity while the ATP and the WTA termed it as discriminatory, going against the spirit of the tour as well as the official contract. The men’s and women’s tour responded by announcing Friday they would not award ranking points to any players for results at Wimbledon.
Djokovic and ATP coming on the same page is something new. He has had many run-ins with the ATP in the past, and he worked to create a separate players’ association. Djokovic explained that he supports the stance of the ATP as it helps in making the tournament organisers understand that they have committed a “mistake”.
“Collectively, I’m glad that players got together with the ATP, the governing body of men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening — and there was, from the Wimbledon side — then we have to show that there’s going to be some consequences,” Djokovic said.
The ATP has said all players who earned ranking points at Wimbledon in 2021 (Djokovic earned the maximum 2,000 for taking the championship) will have those erased from their record as part of the usual 52-week system that counts someone’s best 19 tournaments over that span. Whatever happens at the tournament in 2022 will have no bearing on a player’s standing.
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Earlier, four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka said she was leaning toward skipping Wimbledon. Osaka said Wimbledon without points would be like an exhibition and felt she would struggle for motivation.
“I’m not sure why, but If I play Wimbledon without points, it’s more like an exhibition,” Osaka said. “I know this isn’t true, right? But my brain just feels that way. I just can’t go at it 100%. I didn’t even make my decision yet, but I’m leaning more towards not playing given the current circumstances, but that might change.”
Djokovic differed in opinion though.
“A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam,” said the owner of 20 such titles, one shy of Rafael Nadal’s men’s record. “Wimbledon, for me, was always my dream tournament when I was a child. So I don’t look at it through the lens of points or of prize money. For me, it’s something else.”
(With additions from PTI/AP)
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