BRITISH No.2 Dan Evans isn’t normally one to mince his words, and last week he was true to form criticising the ATP and WTA over their veiled threats to cancel pre-Wimbledon tournaments unless bans on Russian and Belarusian players are overturned.
Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Aryna Sabalenka, and a few others, were banned from playing at Wimbledon last year after the invasion of Ukraine.
Wimbledon and the LTA has yet to make a statement on whether the ban will stay for 2023, but sources say UK government officials have put pressure on Wimbledon to continue it, which could lead to Eastbourne and Queens losing their respective licenses.
The ATP and WTA Tours don’t have the power to cancel Wimbledon as a Grand Slam, but they can scrap tour events, like the Queen’s tournament.
And they could continue to strip all rankings points from all the events.
That potential move has angered Evans.
“It’s a sad state of affairs if Queen’s wasn’t on,” he told the London Times.
“I’m not a fan of the threats. The ATP should not throw stones when they live in glass houses.
“Queen’s is one of the best and most prestigious tournaments on the tour, which has done a lot for the ATP Tour in its time.”
The ATP and WTA Tours have said tournaments organised by Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association will be cancelled if it continues to exercise wnhat it called “discrimination based on nationality”.
“I’m a massive advocate for the ATP generally,” Evans added.
“They do great things but we have to have sensible conversations.
“I don’t think threatening the LTA with taking away the licence for these events is how it’s going to be resolved.”
“I think common sense should prevail. The LTA’s hands are tied a little bit as well. This subject goes a bit bigger than tennis federations and governing bodies.”
It certainly does – all the way to the corridors of power at Westminster.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported on Friday that their were growing signs the ban might be lifted.
But it is believed players from those countries may need to sign a declaration promising they will not “promote or glorify” Russia president Vladimir Putin’s war in any way during the tournament.
An AELTC spokeswoman told AFP: “We are continuing to work very closely with the UK Government and key stakeholders in tennis on this matter.”
This year’s Wimbledon runs from July 3-16.
SO, from one extreme to another… to fluffy tennis balls.
Yep, with war still raging in Eastern Europe the big news out of London last week came via a Telegraph newspaper report that the latest Dunlop balls being used at a number tour events across the world are too fluffy.
Russian world No.7 Daniil Medvedev has described as being so heavy that they feel like “apples” on the racket.
Medvedev says the Dunlop balls are causing wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries among the leading players.
And he also believes the balls travel so slowly.
“When the balls are at their lowest point” – which comes towards the end of their nine-game lifespan – “it felt like neither me nor him could make a winner,” Medvedev told reporters last week.
“I knew it’s gonna be tough, especially with the conditions here, quite slow with balls that get super, super fluffy. So at one moment it’s like you feel like you’re throwing, I don’t know how to call it in English, but when you throw a big heavy ball,” Medvedev added.
“The new balls for, like, three games are lively. In Russia we call it ‘sky and ground’, they are completely different. It takes two games to get used to them … but then they’re dead again.
“In my opinion, that’s maybe even boring. I cannot do anything with the ball. I hit back in the middle, he hits back, whoever misses, the legs are burning. It’s a little bit strange in my opinion. Again, if I’m the only one, that’s only my problem. I just feel like that’s not good for the body, and that’s important.”
PHOTO OF THE WEEK:
Locked in a heated battle over three hours long, Taylor Fritz picked up a warning after he threw up into a basket courtside during his match with Tommy Paul in Acapulco.
DESCRIBED by the media now as a ‘retired tennis pro’ Serena Williams and her family got decked out to attend niece Justus Bobbitt’s wedding to Brandon Salters last week.
“A day at the derby for J & B 💘We all had too much fun!,” Williams captioned the shots from the day.
Bobbitt is the daughter of Williams’ late sister Yetunde Price, who was killed in 2003.
Serena revealed last week that her five-year-old daughter Olympia is unlikely to follow in her footsteps.
“She doesn’t actually like to play too much tennis,” Serena said.
“That’s a little disappointing for me because she’s actually really good at it.”
BOB and Mike Bryan will host a star-studded line up of top ATP and WTA players on Tuesday at the Omni Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage, California to raise for their various youth development programs.
The field will include Caroline Garcia, Belinda Bencic, Madison Keys, Leylah Fernandez and Alex De Minaur and JJ Wolf.
Fans can bid on autographed tennis racquets, VIP tennis experiences & tickets at the ACE4KIDS online auction. Bids can be made beginning 3pm PST on Tuesday at https://www.bushtennis.org/ace4kids
CONGRATS to Madison Keys, who announced her engagement to long-term boyfriend and ATP player Bjorn Fratangelo on Thursday.
Keys and Fratangelo started dating back in 2017 and have even played mixed doubles on several occasions.
“Yesssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are getting married!!!!!!!!!!!,” wrote Stephens in the comments on her IG post.
FLORIDA senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott’s request to President Joe Biden to approve a waiver to allow Novak Djokovic to play in the Miami Open later this month seems to have failed.
Djokovic currently cannot enter the US because he is unvaccinated against Covid-19.
“We have been told that the US Department of Homeland Security has denied Novak Djokovic’s vaccine waiver request, making him ineligible to compete in the US next week in California and in the Miami Open,” Senator Scott said.
“Joe Biden must fix this NOW, grant the waiver and allow him to compete here in the States.”
The Federal government’s Covid emergency declarations, which require non-US citizens be vaccinated in order to enter the country, is set to expire on May 11.
The tournament is set to begin March 19.
INDIAN Wells will feature a 96-player singles field for both men and women and a 32-team doubles field.
The winner of the WTA an d ATP events will each receive $1,262,200 with first round losers getting just $18,660.
Defending women’s singles champion Iga Swiatek headlines the WTA section, but the men’s draw is still full of uncertainty with Novak Djokovic still hoping for a presidential reprieve and with second seed Carlos Alcaraz an injury doubt.
If both miss out Stefanos Tsitsipas will become top seed.
OFFICIALS at many events have been accused of using Covid-19 to restrict media access to coaches and other key areas.
Indian Wells has become the latest event to restrict access that was a norm before the pandemic and journalist Ben Rothenberg tweeted his frustrations yesterday.
“It is deeply frustrating and disheartening how many tennis tournaments used the pandemic as cover to roll back and restrict access for on-site journalists, blocking off areas where coaches and other sources are,” he wrote.
“Indian Wells is the most recent offender, having hid behind lingering Covid concerns last year. That is not a cheap or nearby tournament to cover for most anyone, and cutting off access is going to mean a lot fewer reporters decide to make the trip there.”
FANS in Spain were delighted to spot Rafael Nadal with his young son Rafael recently.
The King of Clay and his wife named him Rafael Nadal Perello, after the Mallorcan’s grandfather.
AND finally …
If you like a small bet now and then on who might win a major, look no further than Iga Swiatek for Roland Garros.
Swiatek may have misfired at the Australian Open but on clay she is supreme.
And another name firming in the betting? Simona Halep – even though she is currently banned from playing.
Others in the betting include Coco Gauff, Maria Sakkari, Wimbledon champion and Australian Open finalist Elena Rybakina and 2021 champion Barbora Krejčíková.