Andrey Rublev, back on the London lawn, wants to play the spoilsport

Andrey Rublev during his lost final against Kazakh Alexander Bublik, in Halle (Germany), on June 25.

This year, the doors of the sacrosanct All England Lawn Tennis Club are reopening to the banished. In 2022, sticking to the government line, the leaders of Wimbledon (tournament which takes place from July 3 to 16) banned Russian and Belarusian players from treading on its famous lawn. The ATP and the WTA, the two bodies that manage the men’s and women’s circuits, had immediately counter-attacked by not distributing points at the end of the tournament, in the name of “tennis fairness”.

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Underhand, one player in particular had tried – in vain – to negotiate with the London Grand Slam to avoid a radical exclusion: the Russian Andrey Rublev. “We had proposed solutions that could have been really useful diplomatically, had unveiled the 7e worldwide in July 2022 in a YouTube video with a Russian blogger. For example, playing mixed doubles with Ukrainian women. Or else, not show up at the awards ceremony. We wanted to show that there is no war in tennis. »

Rublev was the first among his compatriots on the circuit to publicly oppose the war in Ukraine at the end of February 2022, the day after the Russian invasion with the support of Belarus. He then repeated his plea for peace throughout the season, before becoming a little more discreet on the subject in recent months. At Wimbledon, whose venerable members play neither with tradition nor with the rules, he and the former “pariahs” have the sole duty of competing under a neutral banner and not expressing support for the Russian invasion.

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As inoffensive outside the court as impetuous on it

Finalist on June 25 in Halle (Germany), the 25-year-old player – who enters the running on Monday July 3 against the Australian Purcell (62e) – intends to confirm that he has a green thumb by showing off on the most pampered of lawns, cut to the nearest millimeter (8 mm). Above all, he would see himself breaking his glass ceiling in the Grand Slam and accessing the last four for the first time, on which he has stumbled in three of the last four Majors he has played.

“Most of these losses, I can only blame myself, said the Russian World early April on the sidelines of the Monte-Carlo tournament, where he would lift his first Masters 1000 trophy a week later (the category just below the Grand Slams). It’s not because I was less good than my opponent, it’s because I couldn’t mentally manage these matches and the pressure. I was like, “OK, this is the time you gotta take that step [en Grand Chelem]” and I collapsed. »

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