Wimbledon rankings points decision dominates talk at French Open

By Jonathan JurejkoBBC Sport at Roland Garros
Denis Shapovalov
Denis Shapovalov said the ranking points decision had put him under "added pressure" to succeed
French Open 2022
Dates: 22 May-5 June Venue: Roland Garros, Paris
Coverage: Live text and radio commentaries of selected matches across BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, the BBC Sport website and app

While many players would prefer to focus solely on the French Open, a lot of their attention since they arrived has been diverted by the decision to remove ranking points from Wimbledon.

The ATP and WTA stripped the points after Russian and Belarusian players were banned from competing in London over Russian's invasion of Ukraine.

It is the main topic of conversation in the news conferences, players are chatting about it on Whatsapp and the fall-out also spilled on to the court on Tuesday when Wimbledon semi-finalist Denis Shapovalov said the pressure of the decision had affected him in his first-round defeat.

Former world number one Karolina Pliskova, who like Shapovalov is set to be one of the biggest losers in terms of ranking because she will be unable to defend the points she gathered on her run to last year's final, said the outcome was "bad and unfair".

Russian player Andrey Rublev blamed Wimbledon's initial decision for creating a "toxic relationship" and his compatriot Daniil Medvedev said the All England Club's move did not seem "very logical".

'Move puts on added pressure'

Shapovalov, ranked 15th in the world, said the decision put him under "added pressure" to succeed in Paris.

The 23-year-old Canadian said he "didn't really show up" in a straight-set defeat by Danish 19-year-old Holger Rune.

"I think it's a little bit added pressure on me, knowing that losing a lot of points and not able to defend," said Shapovalov.

"I knew going into this tournament over the last couple days that it's going to be very important for me to go deep here, otherwise it's going to be a while until I can gain some points in New York.

"But I'm not trying to give an excuse or something. I just need to be better."

'Completely the wrong decision'

Wimbledon runner-up Pliskova, set to drop out of the top 10 if she cannot defend the points, says taking ranking points away from the Grand Slam event is "completely the wrong decision".

"I think it's super tough and unfair and a bad decision," said the 30-year-old Czech after fighting back from a set down to beat French wildcard Tessah Andrianjafitrimo.

"I think they should keep at least 50% from the last year or all the points. It was the same like when it was Covid, if there were no tournaments you kept the points for like one year or two years."

On Monday, Japan's four-time major champion Naomi Osaka said she wasn't sure if she would play Wimbledon and there are fears other top players may follow suit.

"I still want to go and compete there, that's for sure, because I'm not playing because of the points, not even because of the money," Pliskova added.

"I want to win and I want to succeed and I want to maybe get the trophy because I was quite close last year.

"I think if you love the game and if you love to play, you're going to play no matter what."

Opinion split among players

Pliskova also said she was on a WhatsApp chat with around 10 top players and "not even these 10 girls could agree on the same thing".

France's Benoit Paire addressed the situation unprompted in his news conference, claiming "99% of players" want points to be available at Wimbledon.

"I'm sorry for Russia and Russians, but they are the ones causing all the trouble - and all the ATP players are actually paying the price," he said.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic, a six-time champion at the All England Club, is likely to lose his status as world number one as a result of the move.

Djokovic will be unable to retain the 2,000 ranking points he earned by winning the Wimbledon title last year and could be overtaken by Medvedev, who is only 680 behind, or Germany's Alexander Zverev.

Paire added: "Medvedev will be the number one. This is absurd."

'Wimbledon have created toxic relationship'

World number seven Rublev has spoken out against the war in Ukraine and said last month the ban by Wimbledon was "complete discrimination".

On Tuesday, the 24-year-old added he thought the move by the ATP had to be made to show the tournaments "they cannot do whatever they want".

"Tennis, in my opinion, is the only one sport that we need tournaments to work together - and tournaments need players to work together," said Rublev.

"When we have a toxic relationship, like now, only the bad things can happen."

Medvedev, 26, has tried to distance himself from expressing his support for either the ATP and WTA, or Wimbledon.

"When I read why the ATP made this decision, I found it very logical what they said. This is what I didn't find in Wimbledon explanations," said the world number two.

"I'm not saying which decision is right, but at least so far in explaining their decisions, I found [the] ATP just more logical and more consecutive."

How have we got to this point?

The move by the ATP and WTA was announced on Friday in response to Wimbledon's ban as the All England Club said it was not prepared "to be used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime".

Almost a month later, the ATP announced ranking points would be taken from the Grand Slam. "It is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option," said the men's governing body.

The WTA, which runs the women's tour, said it was a "difficult decision".

However, events in the UK outside Wimbledon, such as Queen's and Eastbourne, will retain their ranking points.

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