The French Open is underway currently, but much of the talk has been about the grand slam that follows.
- Novak Djokovic plans on defending his Wimbledon title
- Naomi Osaka says with no rankings points, Wimbledon will be like an exhibition event
- Djokovic says the current situation with Wimbledon is a “lose-lose” situation
The decision by the ATP and WTA to remove rankings points from Wimbledon has been a divisive one. The sport’s governing bodies made the call in response to the All England Club banning Russian and Belarusian players in April as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.
World number one Novak Djokovic plans on defending his Wimbledon title, even though he will forfeit the 2,000 rankings points he won last year. The Serb lost another 2,000 points when he was unable to play in this year’s Australian Open due to his unvaccinated status.
The lack of rankings points is likely to result in Djokovic losing his number one ranking to Russian Daniil Medvedev.
“It’s a very unique and weird situation,” Djokovic said after his first-round win over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka at Roland Garros.
“A grand slam is still a grand slam, Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child.
“I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money, for me, it’s something else.”
Four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka said she was weighing up whether to play a Wimbledon tournament that she said would be “more like an exhibition” without any rankings points on offer.
Djokovic said he can understand players having reservations but is pleased that the men’s and women’s tours have sent a message to Wimbledon.
“I’m glad players got together with the ATP and showed to the grand slam that when there is a mistake happening — and there was from the Wimbledon side — there’s going to be some consequences,” said Djokovic.
“I support the players, unification. I’ve always done that, I’ll always do that.”
World number five Rafael Nadal made a strong start to the French Open with a straight-sets demolition of Australian Jordan Thompson.
After the match, the 13-time champion also found himself talking about the rankings-free Wimbledon.
“I respect and understand Wimbledon’s position without a doubt,” Nadal said in his post-match media conference.
“On the other hand, I understand and respect that the ATP is protecting their members.
“It’s not that one is doing a negative thing and one is doing the good thing.
“Hopefully, ATP and Wimbledon can be together and sit together and negotiate a better future for both sides.”
Wimbledon accused of a lack of communication
Six-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic said he had heard that the tournament could have explored other options, such as holding an exhibition event concurrently for the excluded players.
“A few days ago I found out there was a document of recommendation from the English government towards the All England Club where they had several options, there was not only one on the table,” said Djokovic.
“And they haven’t discussed it with anyone from the ATP, any individual players or for that matter Russian and Belarusian players to just communicate or understand whether there is common ground where both sides could be making a compromise.
British number one Cameron Norrie and Australia’s top-ranked female Ajla Tomljanovic are two players who have been critical of the move to strip Wimbledon of rankings points.
Djokovic acknowledges some players will be more impacted than others.
“It’s a super-sensitive subject and whatever you decide, it’s going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification,” said Djokovic.
“There’s always going to be some groups of players who are going to be affected more negatively and they’re going to complain more.
“It’s hard really, it’s hard to say what is right, what is wrong.
“This is one of these kinds of decisions and situations where there’s always going to be someone that will suffer more so it’s kind of a lose-lose situation really.”