Norrie backs top players to skip Wimbledon after ATP decision

·4 min read
<span>Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Cameron Norrie believes that some top players will decide not to compete at Wimbledon this year after the ATP and WTA opted to revoke ranking points from the tournament in light of the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players this year.

Norrie, the British No 1, also said that without players being able to compete for ranking points at Wimbledon, the tournament will more closely resemble an exhibition event.

Related: ‘Very unfair’: Ajla Tomljanovic criticises stripping of Wimbledon rankings points

“Obviously it’s an extremely difficult situation with everything going on with the war, but for me it’s tough,” Norrie said. “Having a home slam and not having to gain any ranking points from that and the tradition of it. You’re not really playing for anything, you’re playing this almost like an exhibition so for me it was tough to see that and obviously it’s a really tricky situation but I would have liked to see it still have points, still have something on the line.”

Norrie says he informed the ATP player council of his opinion regarding the points removal. Asked about whether he thinks the majority of players are against the points removal, Norrie said he believes they are now that the previous year’s points will not be frozen and there will be no opportunity to defend them.

“Wimbledon is still such a special event,” he said. “But I think you’ll see a lot of top players not playing, just resting and getting ready for the hardcourt events. Making sure that they’re ready for those. Especially those that don’t worry too much about the money. So I could see a few top players not playing because of that.”

Sloane Stephens, a former French Open finalist and US Open champion, affirmed her support for the WTA’s decision to remove Wimbledon points. Stephens is part of the WTA player council and she said that the tours had been “backed into a corner” when they made the decision.

“Obviously I support our CEO, I support my council, I support the players. The decision that’s been taken obviously wasn’t taken lightly. I think when you are backed into a corner and that’s all you can do, I think that’s why the decision was made, and I support it.”

Stephens, who reasoned that “there has been a lot of mishandling” of the situation and the press were not privy to all the factors in the WTA’s decision, decided not to reveal any other issues: “No. Snitches get stitches, so no,” she joked. “But I can tell you that we worked really hard to try to make sure that everyone had a fair opportunity to play, and at the end of the day that’s not what happened.”

Sloane Stephens of the United States in action against Jule Niemeier of Germany in her first round match on day 1 at Roland Garros on 22 May, 2022 in Paris, France.
Sloane Stephens said ‘there has been a lot of mishandling’ of the situation. Photograph: Robert Prange/Getty Images

Dominic Thiem, the former No3 who lost in straight sets in Paris as he continues to return from a wrist injury, noted that the decision will be difficult for some players including Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, but he said that this debate is less significant in the bigger picture.

“We always have to keep in mind I think the big picture that Wimbledon or all our tennis world, it’s just really no problem at all, the real problem is there in Ukraine and let’s hope that there is peace very soon again,” said Thiem.

Norrie was speaking a day after he clinched his fourth career ATP title at the ATP 250 event in Lyon, defeating Alex Molcan 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-1 for his first ATP clay court title. As he looks to follow up a tremendous breakthrough season last year and maintain his status at the top of the sport, Norrie continues to handle himself well.

With his victory, Norrie is up to 11th in the ATP race, the same spot he stands in the official rankings, and he has already reached three finals this year. The obvious next step for him is a deep run at a grand slam tournament. Norrie has reached the third round at all four grand slam events but, partly a consequence of some difficult draws, he has never reached a grand slam fourth round.

He has a good opportunity to do so this year, with the out-of-form 21st seed Karen Kachanov the highest ranked player in his section and no dangerous unseeded players nearby.

Norrie will start his French Open against French wildcard Manuel Guinard on Monday and Emma Raducanu will follow Norrie on Court Simmone-Mathieu. On Phiilippe Chatrier, No1 Iga Swiatek will open up play on Philippe Chatrier while Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will play back-to-back into the evening.

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