Thursday, August 11, 2022

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Wimbledon 2022: Seven Things That Make This Grass-Court Grand Slam Unique

Leading Russian Tennis players like the world number 8 Andrey Rublev, world no. 22 Karen Khachanov and even the reigning world number one Daniil Medvedev won’t be able to take part in the Championship.

The oldest Grand Slam tournament in history, Wimbledon 2022, will be held from June 27 – July 10. The All England Lawn Tennis Club in London, UK, will host the grass-court tournament which was established in 1877. But this year’s Wimbledon is special on many accounts and controversial on a few.

Ban on Russian and Belarusian players

There is a blanket ban on player participation from Russia and Belarus, citing the Ukraine war, and the players from these countries cannot even participate as neutral athletes. As a result, leading Russian tennis players like world number eight Andrey Rublev, world number 22 Karen Khachanov and even the reigning world number one, Daniil Medvedev, will not be able to participate in the oldest grand slam.

Ranked number six in the WTA rankings, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who has ten world tour titles to her name, will also not be able to participate in the Championships.

All England Club, the organising body of the Championship, while announcing the ban, said, “We share in the universal condemnation of Russia’s illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation in the context of our duties to the players, to our community and to the broader UK public as a British sporting institution.”

The decision was well supported by the UK government as its Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said, “Whilst the withdrawal of individual athletes is a complex issue that will divide opinion, there is a bigger cause at stake.”

Russian player changes identity to take part in Wimbledon

To nullify the ban on Russian players, a certain women’s doubles player from Russia changed her nationality. Natela Dzalamidze, aged 29 and ranked No 44 in the world, will be competing in the women’s doubles at SW19 with Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic when the tournament starts on June 27. According to a report in The Times newspaper, she has taken the citizenship of Georgia.

No Roger Federer for the first time since 1998

Roger Federer, one of the most loved Tennis players worldwide and the most successful player on the green grass of The Championships, with eight titles to his name, won’t be competing at Wimbledon 2022. In an interview with the Evening Standard, Tony Godsick, Federer’s agent, said, “It was a great effort last year on one leg. I think he’d like another Wimbledon. That place has been incredibly special to him.”

But that another Wimbledon won’t be this one. Although no final clarification has come from the Swiss Maestro yet, it seems like Wimbledon will go ahead without Federer for the first time since 1998.

Serena Williams Returns

The never give up attitude of Serena Williams has made sure that the woman with 23 grand slam titles in her kitty is still up and about when it comes to competing. She would not let go of any chance to get to the magic number of 24; the most titles won by any player in history. The record currently stands with Margret Court.

However, it is not going to be easy for the 40-year-old. She last won a grand slam way back in 2017, and ever since, she has lost four grand slam finals, with the last one at the US Open in 2019 to teenager Bianca Andreescu.

Novak Djokovic is chasing Rafael Nadal

After being forced to sit out of the Australian Open 2022 and then being beaten in the quarterfinals of the French Open last month, Novak Djokovic, who also lost his world number one ranking recently, will be looking to chase down Rafael Nadal in his career Grand Slam race.

Djokovic, who is currently tied with Federer with 20 titles to his name, is two titles behind Nadal. These are the same two titles that Nadal won this year; otherwise, the Big Three were sitting tight at 20 each.

No ranking points for Wimbledon

Due to the ban on individual players from Russia and Belarus imposed by Wimbledon for no personal fault of the players, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) unanimously decided to take away the ranking points from the Championships as a punishment for its blanket ban.

As a result, players will not be getting any ranking points from wins at Wimbledon 2022, and it will be rendered an exhibition Grand Slam.

“The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines the integrity of the ATP Ranking system. It is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP Ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022,” said the ATP in a statement.

Andy Murray mulling Wimbledon return

Andy Murray, the only British player to have won the Wimbledon in Open Era and that too twice (2013 and 2016), is mulling a return to his home turf for the upcoming Championships. This might be his last appearance in a grand slam as the Brit has had many injuries since 2017.

The former world number one believes that he can compete at Wimbledon 2022. “The next couple of days are pretty important for me. Obviously, the plan is still to play. The injury that I had is improving. I’ve had it rescanned since then and it’s progressing in the right way,” Murray was quoted as saying by Radio Times.

Source: Business Standard

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