Daniil Medvedev fears for his tennis future because of Russia’s Ukraine invasion

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World No 1 Daniil Medvedev has admitted he is worried he could be banned in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. All Russian and Belarusian tennis players, including the top-ranked male, are currently competing as neutrals but the US Open champion fears they could receive further sanctions.

Tennis is one of the few sports still allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete, with athletics and rowing among those who have banned competitors from both nations.

At Indian Wells, the biggest tournament outside of the four Grand Slams, the men’s draw is led by Russian world No 1 Medvedev while Belarusian world No 3 Aryna Sabalenka heads the women’s draw after the withdrawal of the top two players.

But both are competing as neutrals alongside their fellow Russian and Belarusian tennis players, with any mention of their respective countries and flags removed.

The ATP, WTA, ITF and four Grand Slams announced the sanctions last week, also cancelling the joint ATP-WTA event in Moscow in October and banning both national teams from the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup, where the Russian tennis federation is the defending champion of both.

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Playing his first tournament after ascending to the top of the rankings, Medvedev has now admitted he is worried about the possibility of a blanket ban over all Russian and Belarusian tennis players, which would leave him unable to compete.

“It’s always tough to talk on this subject because I want to play tennis; play in different countries,” the 26-year-old said ahead of the BNP Paribas Open.

“I want to promote my sport, I want to promote what I’m doing in my country for sure, and right now the situation is that that is the only way I can play.”

When asked about the possibility of tennis following in the footsteps of other sports, including the Beijing Winter Olympics where Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from competing in a last-minute U-turn, Medvedev admitted he was hoping there would be no further action.

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Speaking about the chances of a ban: “We never know – some sports made this decision, especially I would think the team sports.

“Tennis is probably one of the most individual sports we have in the world. Everyone’s living in so many different places.

“There’s always a possibility, but I hope not.”

Medvedev had previously voiced his solidarity with Ukraine in a previous tournament, and again in a social media post after becoming world No 1.

“By being a tennis player I want to promote peace all over the world,” he said after his Mexico Open quarter-final last month.

In an Instagram post after becoming world No 1, the 26-year-old expanded on his message as he wrote: “Do you all remember what I have said after Australian Open final? This story was just about me, my childhood dreams. And today I want to speak on behalf of every kid in the world.

“They all have dreams, their life is just starting, so many nice experiences to come: first friends, first great emotions. Everything they feel and see is for the first time in their lives.

“That’s why I want to ask for peace in the world, for peace between countries.

“Kids are born with inner trust in the world, they believe so much in everything: in people, in love, in safety and justice, in their chances in life. Let’s be together and show them that it’s true, cause every kid shouldn’t stop dreaming.”

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