Following his first-round win at the French Open on Monday, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic told reporters he disagreed with Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from the upcoming tournament. Djokovic added that he understood the ATP’s subsequent decision to not award ranking points at the event.
« On a personal level, of course, without getting a chance to play and defend my 4,000 points I’m going to drop in this year [at] Australia and Wimbledon. So, of course, on a personal, individual level, I have been very negatively affected by that, » said Djokovic, who is the two-time defending champion at the All England Club. « But I have been speaking with management and the president of [the] ATP and some of the council members actually in the last few days.
« I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that, you know, when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there is going to be some consequences. »
Russia, with help from Belarus, began attacking Ukraine in late February. The All England Club announced in April it would not allow players from Russia or Belarus to participate in the year’s third Grand Slam. The ATP, as well as the WTA, announced on Friday it would not award ranking points to any players for results at Wimbledon.
Djokovic said he was disappointed in the lack of communication from the tournament or any attempt to find « common ground. » He said he had heard talk of various alternate ideas, including an exhibition event for the banned players to run concurrently alongside the major, but indicated they were not coming to fruition.
Ultimately, Djokovic called it a « lose-lose situation for everyone » and recognized it was a « supersensitive subject. »
« Anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification, » he said.
Still, while Naomi Osaka said earlier Monday she was considering skipping the event due to the lack of awardable points, Djokovic, a six-time Wimbledon champion, said he was still planning on playing at the major.
« There are some guys that obviously, you know, not going to have a chance to earn points, » Djokovic said. « Of course it’s a very unique and weird situation, I must say. Of course, [a] Grand Slam is still [a] Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child.
« You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else. »
While Djokovic will lose his points at Wimbledon, as he did at the Australian Open following his deportation from the country, he will have his chance to defend all of his points as the reigning champion at the French Open.
He will next face the winner of Tuesday’s Federico Coria-Alex Molcan match in the second round at the tournament.