Benoit Paire, a feisty Frenchman, has demanded to know if the ATP is ‘defending Russia’ after its decision to deduct ranking points from Wimbledon. After losing in the first round of the French Open to Ilya Ivashka of Belarus, world number 78 Paire slammed the governing body.
The ATP and WTA will not award ranking points for Wimbledon this year because of the All England Club’s ban on players from Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine. They made their decision late Friday night, two days before the French Open commences and a little more than a month before Wimbledon begins on June 27.
The All England Club announced in April that Russians and Belarusians will not be allowed to compete in the Grand Slam grass-court championship. Since Russia began assaulting Ukraine in February, Russian athletes have been barred from competing in a variety of sports, including soccer’s World Cup qualification playoffs and Belarus has supported Russia’s invasion.
“I want to know if ATP wants to defend players or Russia”- Benoit Paire
Benoit Paire, one of the ATP Tour’s more outspoken players, requested an interview with the media following his French Open loss to Ilya Ivashka to express his thoughts on the matter. He said, “We are going to play a tournament without any points. When some people had Covid, we didn’t say, ‘oh, okay, we should cancel the tournament altogether’.
“But then we have three or four Russian players, including [world No. 2 Daniil] Medvedev, and we are rallying against Wimbledon. I think it’s a pity because if we were to listen to all the players, players do not understand this decision – 99% of players, they want to have points and to play the tournament as it was before.“So I want to know if ATP wants to defend players or Russia.”
“I will go there to get my prize money, as I would for an exhibition tournament. But the question is: Why didn’t they talk with players upstream? Yes, when they say there was a council which voted, nobody told us about this. If it’s a war between ATP and Wimbledon, it’s not nice for us, because we want to play normally. I’m sorry for Russia and Russians, but they are the ones causing all the trouble. And all the ATP players are actually paying the price. Medvedev will be No. 1 worldwide. This is absurd. We should actually take [a] position for all the players in the world, and it’s the opposite that is being done right now,“ added the Frenchman.
“There is a war in Russia, so there can be some sanctions that can be made. But the ATP should defend the majority of players, not four or five players. All the other players are actually having problems because of this decision. I don’t understand this. We are all penalised by this. It feels like we are going to an exhibition tournament just to cash a cheque, “ Benoit Paire concluded.