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Djokovic and Nadal slam Wimbledon for banning Russian and Belarusian players over Ukraine conflict

Nadal: I think it's very unfair on my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues... It's not their fault what's happening in this moment with the war

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Spaniard Rafael Nadal, the winner of a record 21 Grand Slam titles, have slammed Wimbledon's decision to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to the 2022 Championships in view of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Nadal called the ban "very unfair" and Djokovic termed it "not right". Andy Murray, the former world No 1 from Britain, also joined the duo by saying that he was "not supportive" of players getting banned.

The All England Club and the Committee of Management of the Wimbledon championships had announced last month that it would be "unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players" with the tournament.

"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," said Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club.

Russia has currently two players in the Top 10 men's singles ATP rankings, including Daniil Medvedev (World No. 2) and Andrey Rublev (World No. 8). Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, currently No. 4 in the women's singles WTA rankings, is also set to miss the Wimbledon championships.

As the world's top players gathered in Spain for the Madrid Open on Sunday, they couldn't stop expressing their shock at the decision.  

"I think it's very unfair on my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues… It's not their fault what's happening in this moment with the war… Wimbledon just took their decision … The government didn't force them to do it," Nadal told the media on Sunday.  

Djokovic, himself involved recently in a massive controversy after being deported from Australia for not being vaccinated against Covid-19, couldn't stop comparing the both situations.

"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. 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," said the Serbian professional tennis player.

Britain's Andy Murray, who is contributing to the ongoing humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine by donating his entire season's prize money, also stated that he is "not supportive" of Wimbledon's decision.

"I'm not supportive of players getting banned. 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," said the former World No. 1 in Madrid.

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