No points for Wimbledon?  The ATP and WTA chose the worst answer

No points for Wimbledon? The ATP and WTA chose the worst answer

Whatever happens, this Wimbledon will be different. It may be legendary, remarkable, interesting or very forgettable, the next fortnight will tell. But he will remain apart. The London Grand Slam has lost several leading players, starting with world number one Daniil Medvedev after deciding to ban the presence of Russians and Belarusians. The former pay for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the latter for their regime’s support for Vladimir Putin.

By choosing to go it alone compared to Roland-Garros and the US Open, the All England Club has placed its 2022 edition under a strange sign. The matter could have ended there. But the ATP and the WTA, unhappy with this shock treatment, wanted to respond just as drastically by refusing to award the slightest point in the ranking. A measure of retaliation, very clearly. “You don’t want Russians and Belarusians? You punish them unilaterally? Fine. Then no one will score a single point.” This is essentially the counter-attack of the two authorities.

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The positioning of Wimbledon can be perceived as an injustice for a Medvedev, a Rublev, a Sabalenka and all the others, ranked as the collateral damage of the politics of their leaders. Their wrong, therefore, is their birth. Everyone will see noon on their doorstep to determine if the thing is right since it is almost a matter of moral conscience. On the circuit as elsewhere, opinions diverged even if, overall, a majority found this decision excessive.

The annoying question: Is excluding Russians and Belarusians from Wimbledon a good decision?

But what was the purpose of the ATP and the WTA with this response? Both to significantly mark their disagreement and no doubt to try to put pressure on the British organizers hoping for a backpedal. It was, at best, very candid. Wimbledon was never going to reconsider its decision to finally welcome Medvedev and co with open arms. The venerable London Major, sure of his grandeur and his aura, remained straight in his boots. He was right. There was not the start of a quarter of a half of a boycott. “You don’t give us points? So we stay at home”. You speak, Charles. You don’t give up a Grand Slam tournament like that. At Wimbledon, even less.

Andy Murray had summarized the situation at the time of the announcement of the ATP, soon followed by the WTA. “I follow golf closely and have no idea how many points winning the Masters brings. Me and my friends love football and we don’t care how many points the World Cup winner gets“, he had tweeted, before clarifying his point: “The players talk a lot about this decision and everyone has their opinion. Yes, it’s hard not to get points, but Wimbledon is such an event. You think the fans are like, ‘Oh, he took 2,000 points!’ No, they say ‘Wow, he won Wimbledon‘”.

Yes, Wimbledon is self-sufficient and, here perhaps even more than elsewhere, the points and the ranking are only a consequence and not the very essence of everyone’s dream or ambition. The problem with this vision is that it is reductive. Not everyone is Andy Murray. At 35, the ranking does not have the same importance for him as for others. On the heights of the hierarchy, the absence of points poses a problem.

In the race to qualify for the Masters, for example, which will automatically be distorted. In addition, the ATP and the WTA will apply a double penalty since not only will there be no points at stake, but those of the 2021 edition will not be frozen. The defending champion Novak Djokovic, whatever he does, is therefore forced into a significant gadin. Imagine that a young player, an Alcaraz, an Auger-Aliassime or a Berrettini won his first major title on Center Court. It will derive no accounting benefit from it. So, of course, Murray is right, that’s not the point. But to put the classification in the rank of a simple anecdote is to push the cork a little far.

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Especially since it is not for those who are already evolving within the gratin that the damage will be the most important. Djokovic will recover. The others too. On the other hand, for many, a big performance in a Grand Slam tournament is the opportunity to change dimension. Of status. Of life, even, sometimes.

Let’s take the case of a player who has struggled to emerge on the circuit for years and stagnates between 100th and 200th place. Suddenly, a quarter-final or a semi-final in a Grand Slam and everything becomes clear. If Andy Murray thinks that an Aslan Karatsev, propelled to the Top 50 at 25 thanks to his semi-final at the Australian Open in 2021 when he struggled in challengers season after season, does not grant importance to the 720 points then acquired in Melbourne, let him say a word about it to the Russian. Not at Wimbledon, of course, since he won’t be there.

Karatsev does not give up

Credit: Eurosport

For all of them, the ranking is nothing secondary. Gaining 20, 30 places, sometimes more, means entering the cut for the next Grand Slam or entering the main circuit tournaments. For them, for them, it is potentially a disaster to be deprived of what should have been theirs in the event of a significant result, even out of the ordinary on their scale. The same performance, in two months at the US Open, may change everything. At Wimbledon, nada, apart from the satisfaction of having reached the second week, the quarters, or better. This satisfaction is anything but negligible. It is even essential. But it will miss part of the profit. In the name of what ?

To respond to what they considered an injustice vis-à-vis Russians and Belarusians, ATP and WTA therefore chose to respond with another injustice. Because it was shocking in the eyes of the two associations to make scapegoats of a geopolitical conflict of simple sportsmen (and because they were probably upset by this unilateral decision), here they are who punish everyone. Strange vision of fairness. We never repair one injustice with another.

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