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Djokovic supports Russian players – RT Sport News

Novak Djokovic has backed the rights of Russian and Belarusian players to compete on the world tennis circuit, despite widespread bans imposed across a range of other sports.

Tennis is among the outliers in world sport after the ATP and WTA governing bodies allowed players such as Russian men’s star Daniil Medvedev and Belarusian women’s ace Aryna Sabalenka to continue playing events majors.

Britain’s Wimbledon showpiece was the exception among Grand Slams in 2022 when it stopped Russians and Belarusians from appearing – with organizers stripped of ranking points and hit with hefty fines by the ATP and the WTA in response.

There have been suggestions in the UK media that All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) bosses may change their stance and lift the Russian and Belarusian ban in 2023 following the backlash.

Appearing at the Adelaide International Tournament in Australia this week, Serbian star Djokovic said the Russians and Belarusians should take part in all the biggest events on the tour.

“Of course, of course, absolutely” Djokovic reportedly said when asked if he wanted to see all players compete at every Grand Slam.

“I hope [Daniil Medvedev] and other Russian, Belarusian players will be able to play everywhere”, added the 21-time Grand Slam winner.

Djokovic himself faced restrictions last year, having been kicked out of Australia 12 consecutive months ago due to his Covid vaccine status.

The 35-year-old was then barred from playing at the US Open due to US entry rules on unvaccinated non-citizens.

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Djokovic returned to Australia after the government overturned his three-year entry ban, and he won his first singles match of the season against Frenchman Constant Lestienne at the ATP 250 event in Adelaide on Tuesday.

Djokovic will next face another Frenchman, Quentin Halys, in the round of 16 on Thursday.

Elsewhere in the draw, Russian pair Medvedev and Karen Khachanov will meet in the quarter-finals on Friday, with the winner potentially facing Djokovic in the semi-finals.

While Medvedev, Khachanov and their compatriots can compete under neutral status on the ATP Tour, they have been banned from team events such as the United Cup which is currently taking place at three venues across Australia.

Medvedev said this week he was disappointed not to be able to take part in the tournament but was nonetheless happy to be in Adelaide as he prepares for the Australian Open in Melbourne later in January.

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