Novak Djokovic urges Wimbledon to allow Russian players to return

Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his match against Constant Lestienne

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Novak Djokovic has urged Wimbledon to allow Russian and Belarusian players to return for this year’s grand slam.

The Serb was critical of the decision from the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s decision to hand out a ban for players from Russia and Belarus following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

That move prompted a heavy fine and ranking points stripped, although no decision has been made public over the grand slam’s stance for the 2023 tournament.

But Djokovic is convinced former world number one Daniil Medvedev and others must contend this year’s grass court slam.

“Of course, absolutely,” Djokovic said ahead of the Australian Open when asked if Russian and Belarusian players should play at Wimbledon.


“I hope he and other Russian and Belarusian players will be able to play everywhere.”

Medvedev has been absent from the United Cup, given Russian and Belarusian players are banned from team events.

But the 26-year-old enjoyed a successful start to his campaign at the Adelaide International, with his latest win coming against Miomir Kecmanovic in straight sets.

Djokovic is also in action at Memorial Drive Tennis Centre and is due on court again on Thursday against Quentin Halys in the round of 16, with a clash against Medvedev on the cards if both reach the semi-finals.

“So far I haven’t heard anything, and I completely understand why we are not playing Davis Cup or United Cup and team competitions where we would represent our country,” Medvedev said.

“Hopefully I can play the individual events, and as I said many, many times last year, I play what I can play, so here I can play Adelaide, and I’m really happy about it, and I want to show my best tennis.”

Meanwhile, Djokovic is again set to miss Indian Wells and the Miami Open after United States travel authorities extended the requirement for non-US nationals to be vaccinated.

Although coronavirus rules have been relaxed or removed in many countries, proof of vaccination will be needed to enter the United States until at least 10 April.

Indian Wells and the Miami Open, two of the most prestigious events on the calendar outside the grand slams, begin on 6 March and 20 March respectively.

Djokovic has refused to get vaccinated and was detained in an immigration hotel on arrival in Australia 12 months ago.

The 21-time grand slam champion was then deported after his visa was cancelled by the immigration minister, who decided Djokovic’s presence could stoke anti-vaccine sentiment.

With vaccination against Covid-19 no longer required to enter Australia, Djokovic successfully challenged a three-year ban on applying for a visa and got his season under way in Adelaide this week.

Speaking ahead of his return, Djokovic said his deportation would stick with him for the rest of his life but that he was happy to return to Australia and seek a 10th Australian Open title.

“You can’t forget those events,” he said. “It’s one of these things that sticks with you, it stays with you for I guess the rest of your life. It was something that I’ve never experienced before, and hopefully never again.

“But it is a valuable life experience for me. I have to move on. Coming back to Australia speaks how I feel about this country, how I feel about playing here.


“I was really hoping that I’m going to have my permission back to get back into Australia and play here because it’s a country where I’ve had tremendous success in my career.

“I always felt great in Australia. I always played my best tennis, received a lot of support. Hopefully I can have another great summer.”

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