The 21-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal has termed Wimbledon's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year's tournament as 'very unfair'. Speaking ahead of the Madrid Open, Nadal said he understands the reason for the ban and sympathises with the players. "It's very unfair to my colleagues, they aren't to blame for what is happening with the war. I feel sorry for them and I wish it wasn't like this. In the end, we know that this is what it is. When the government puts measures in place, we have to follow them," he said. "I don't know what to say. I'm sorry for them. I wish it was not this way, but at the end of the day we know that this is what we have," he added. Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, announced in April that Russian and Belarusian players will not be allowed to play in the UK this summer following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The decision means the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka will all miss out on the Grand Slam this year. "From there onwards, we will see what happens. Let's see what happens in the next weeks, if the players will take some kind of decision in this regard," Nadal said. Nadal believes that the decision from Wimbledon organisers was 'drastic' and that they weren't obliged to ban players from the tournament. "When the government imposes some restrictions, you just have to follow them," he added. Earlier, former world No. 1 Belarusian Victoria Azarenka has said the Wimbledon ban on players from Russia and her country makes no sense. The two-time Grand Slam champion demanded the tennis governing bodies to take action against the decision. "It does not make sense and it does not connect to what they are saying. If you are asking me if I agree with Wimbledon or I see their reasoning after being on a personal call with them, I don't see their reasoning," Azarenka told reporters in Madrid on April 28. A rib fracture has kept Nadal out of action in recent weeks, yet the legendary tennis star believes he is over the worst of the ailment. "I've recovered from the injury, to be honest," he added.