10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Rublev, Pavlyuchenkova among Russians speaking out against war, Ukrainians demand action

Andrey Rublev wrote “no war please” on the camera lens during his run to the Dubai title. EPA-EFE/Alessandro Di Marco

By Ricky Dimon

Russians and Ukrainians are spearheading the charge of professional tennis speaking out against the war in Ukraine, where Russian forces are invading.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, launched the attack last week. Since then, players have voiced their displeasure for the war via social media, press conferences, and even on cameras.

ATP world No. 6 Andrey Rublev, the second-ranked Russian behind Daniil Medvedev, made the biggest headlines by writing “No War Please” following his victory in the Dubai semifinals against Hubert Hurkacz.

“In these moments you realize that my match is not important,” Rublev added. “It’s not about my match, how it affects me. What’s happening is much more terrible. You realize how important it is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what, to be united. We should take care of our earth and of each other. This is the most important thing.

“Of course I get some bad comments on the internet because I am Russian. I get some aggressive comments. I cannot react on them because if I react on them, I’m going to show the same…. Even if they throw rocks to me, I need to show I’m for the peace. I’m not here to be aggressive or something…. I think this is the right way to do it, at least for me.”

Medvedev expressed similar sentiments in Acapulco, where he lost in the semis to Rafael Nadal but clinched the world No. 1 ranking thanks to Novak Djokovic’s Dubai quarterfinal loss to Jiri Vesely.

“By being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world,” the 26-year-old said. “We play in so many different countries. I’ve been in so many different countries as a junior and as a pro. It’s just not easy to hear all this news. I’m all for peace.”

Russian No. 1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is speaking out against the war. EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV

On the WTA side, Russian veteran Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova expressed her opposition to the war on Monday. Pavlyuchenkova was runner-up at the French Open last spring and then won mixed doubles gold at the Olympics with Rublev.

“I’ve been playing tennis since I was a kid,” Pavlyuchenkova posted on social media. “I have represented Russia all my life. This is my home and my country. But now I am in complete fear, as are my friends and family. But I am not afraid to clearly state my position. I am against war and violence.”

Ukrainian players such as Marty Kostyuk and Lesia Tsurenko came out with a joint statement demanding action from the WTA and ITF.

“Our country, Ukraine is under brutal attack by superior nuclear power. The bombs and rockets are hitting our houses, killing our people, destroying our life…. We demand that WTA immediately [condemn] Russian government, pull all tournaments out of Russia, approach ITF to do the same.”

The statement added that “we fully support our colleagues from Russia,” but Elina Svitolina is refusing to play any match against a Russian opponent unless the governing bodies of tennis only allow Russian players to compete independently without any display of affiliation to their country.

Svitolina said via Twitter that she will not play her first-round match in Monterrey against Russia’s Anastasia Potapova, which is scheduled for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky–who retired from tennis last month–has enlisted with his country’s military reserves.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.