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Medvedev, Sabalenka not counting on Wimbledon

Daniil Medvedev. Photo: Matthew Stockman/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP

Daniil Medvedev would like nothing more than a return to Wimbledon, but the sixth-ranked Russian isn’t getting caught up in reports that the All England Club could rescind its ban of Russian and Belarusian players.

The UK’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) came under pressure from the British government to impose the ban last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and an eventual ban extended to the grass court Grand Slam at Wimbledon.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported last week that Wimbledon will likely lift the ban, but Medvedev was not building on it when asked at the hard court tournament in Indian Wells.

“Same like last year, you know, we hear rumors,” he said, adding when asked that he’d heard nothing from organizers and wouldn’t expect to.

“I know that I’m not someone who’s going to make this decision for them or even help them make this decision,” Medvedev said. “They have to make it by themselves for their different reasons, like they made it last year.

“I always said that I will respect this decision. I play where I can play. Last year I couldn’t play Wimbledon — I was practicing hard back where I live.

“That’s the only thing I can do. Tennis is my job, so I will be really happy to play Wimbledon. I absolutely love this tournament, but if it’s not meant to be, I’m going to wait for the opportunity to be back there.”

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus said she’s trying to “stay away” from speculation after finding the ban last year “super painful.”

Now, she said, she’s realized “I cannot control it.

“They will do whatever they want and I really hope that we are going to play there.

“I like the tournament, it’s a beautiful place and I like the crowd … I just really hope that they’re going to let us play. If not, then what can I do? Nothing.”

Sabalenka said she had managed to distance herself emotionally from debate about the conflict over the past year.

“Before I was really worried about that and I didn’t really know what to do,” she said. “I really thought that the situation is my fault.

“Then I realized that, yes, this is not under my control and I did nothing really bad against Ukrainian people. This is just not my fault (I have) zero control of the situation.”

Last year five tournaments staged by the LTA banned Russian and Belarusian players.

Wimbledon was the only Grand Slam event with such a ban and the ATP and WTA stripped the tournament of its world ranking points.

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