Ukrainian Tennis Player Speaks Out Against Banning Of Russian Athletes From Sport - UBITENNIS
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Ukrainian Tennis Player Speaks Out Against Banning Of Russian Athletes From Sport



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Ukraine’s second-highest-ranked player in the men’s doubles has confirmed he went against a recommendation by his national federation not to team up with a Russian player and has now voiced his opposition to any player ban related to the war in his country. 

Oleg Prihodko is currently ranked 121st in the doubles and has contested three finals on the ATP Challenger Tour so far this season, winning a title in Argentina alongside Daniel Dutra da Silva. He is one of the few athletes from his country to publicly oppose Russian athletes getting suspended or banned from professional competition. Last year Russian and Belarussian players were banned from LTA events, including Wimbledon, and it is still unclear if they will be allowed to participate this year. 

On February 24th 2022 Russia launched what they describe as a ‘special military operation’ on its neighbour which has resulted in the deaths of at least 8000 civilians, according to the United Nations. Following the early stages of the war, Prihodko decided to continue playing tournaments alongside Russia’s Yan Bondarevsky who is a friend of his despite being advised not to.

“I played a couple (of tournaments) with a Russian because he is my friend. And I played a couple with my friend – nationality does not matter to me. In my opinion, a person should be judged by his actions, and not by his nationality.” Prihodko told BTU
“I have many friends from Russia and Belarus, also my girlfriend is from Russia. They all help me in every possible way and always speak out against the war. Therefore, I do not think that I did some kind of terrible act.’
“Were there recommendations from the FTU (Ukraine’s national tennis federation) not to play with the Russians? Yes, they did, but since I have my own views, I did as I saw fit, and I did not blindly follow the policy of the party.”

It isn’t just tennis where the debate over if a possible ban on Russian and Belarussian athletes should occur. There is an ongoing argument concerning their presence at the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris. Last month a group of 34 countries, which includes government representatives from Britain and France, signed a letter urging the IOC to implement a ban. 

“In general, I believe that such condemnation of athletes only fuels the conflict more. Thus, athletes begin to arrange war on and off the court, turning into tools of war and forgetting the basic principle of sport.” Prihodko commented on the debate.
“Regarding the removal of athletes from Belarus and Russia from the Olympics, I, as an athlete, do not understand this. I understand that for all the guys this is a dream to which they have been going all their lives. I believe that sport should bring people together. In ancient times, when the Olympics were held, all wars were stopped, but now it is part of the war.” He added. 

Prihodko, who was born in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Pavlograd, says he has been criticized for not displaying his own country’s flag on his Instagram profile. He said he didn’t feel the need to do so because ‘everybody knew where he is from.’ 

“I believe that a person should do more things in real life than in social networks,” he said. “I help people in Ukraine as much as I can, and I see more concrete actions in this.”

Prihodko’s views are different to that of some of his compatriots such as Elina Svitolina and Marta Kostyuk who have both previously called for a ban to be implemented. 

Under current rules, Russian and Belarussian players are allowed to play on the Tour but only as neutral athletes. They are currently suspended from all team events overseen by the ATP, WTA and ITF. 

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing



Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two



Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Russian World No.78 Elina Avanesyan To Switch Nationalities



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A week after losing her fourth round match at the French Open, a government minister has confirmed that Elina Avanesyan is in the process of changing the nationality of who she plays for. 

The 21-year-old is switching her aligence from Russia to Armenia, according to Armenia’s deputy Minister of International Affairs and communication. Karen Giloyan has told the news agency Armenpress that Avanesyan will soon be representing his country. However, the tennis player has yet to comment on the matter.  Avanesyan was born in Russia but has Armenian parents.

“Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag, but there is nothing official yet. We are waiting for her to get the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia so that everything will be official,” Giloyan told Armenpress.

Such a development would be a massive coup for the Armenian tennis federation which currently doesn’t have a player ranked inside the top 500 on either the men’s or women’s Tour. The country has a population of less than 3M. Perhaps their best-known player is Sargis Sargsian who reached the top 40 back in 2004. Others on the Tour also have Armenian heritage but don’t represent the country such as Karen Khachanov.  

Avanesyan is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is 18 places below her career high. This season, she has scored high-profile wins over Maria Sakkari at the Australian Open, Ons Jabeur in Charleston and Qinwen Zhang at the French Open. 

She has yet to play in the final of a WTA tournament.

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