Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev describes his country’s invasion of Ukraine as ‘terrible’ and says ‘peace is the most important thing’… just days after he won an ATP doubles title with a Ukrainian partner
Andrey Rublev awoke on Thursday to find that his own country had invaded that of his doubles partner.
Five days previously the Russian world No 7 had won the ATP title in Marseille alongside Ukrainian Denys Molchanov, an unlikely alliance in light of wider world events.
Rublev tried to put the images he had seen on television in the morning out of his head before tackling American MacKenzie McDonald in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Championships.
Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev condemned his country’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday
Rublev won a double event in Marseille with Ukrainian Denys Molchanov (pictured) this week
He just about managed to do so and registered a 2-6 6-3 6-1 victory after losing the first five games. The 24 year-old Muscovite admitted later that he is troubled by infinitely more profound happenings elsewhere.
‘In these moments you realise that my match is not important. It’s not about my match, how it affect me. What’s happening is much more terrible,’ said Rublev.
‘You realise how important is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what, to be united. It’s about that we should be take care of our earth and of each other. This is the most important thing.’
Like compatriot Daniil Medvedev, Rublev has been targeted online due to his nationality, something that comes with representing a pariah nation.
Rublev marks his victory over American Mackenzie McDonald at the Dubai Championships
‘Even if they throw rocks to me, I need to show I’m for the peace, I’m not here to be aggressive or something,’ he added.
Russia has far more players than it does high profile tournaments, so any sanctions tennis would impose on those would have little wider effect on the tour.
The women’s event in Saint Petersburg was completed earlier this month and Moscow’s Kremlin Cup is not due to happen until the late autumn.
Rublev shared this image on his Instagram account following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
A trickier matter from the geopolitical standpoint for the sport is China, with the exact status and wellbeing of former Wimbledon doubles champion Peng Shuai still unknown.
The WTA Tour last night announced a further rollout of its tournaments for this year, although only up until the US Open. Asia is due to come after that.
The unveiling arrived a day after the ATP Tour revealed its whole 2022 calendar, with four events later in the season confirmed as returning to China, assuming the pandemic has been overcome.
The low-key announcement effectively means that the idea of a united front with the women over Peng Shuai already looks highly unlikely.
Meetings among the WTA hierarchy, scheduled for the next month, will determine whether they will stick to the high-profile stance of Chief Executive Steve Simon that the tour will not return there for its multiple tournaments until the Peng situation has been resolved.
While there has been some increased alignment among the men’s and women’s tours recently, it shows that major obstacles remain to further progress. High ideals often do not survive their initial collisions with harsh commercial reality.
A spokesman for the ATP said, ‘At present, our intention is to play a regular Asian Swing of events this season. However, we are maintaining a flexible approach to the calendar.
‘We remain prepared to make changes to our schedule in response to any developments across the course of the season.’