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Rafael Nadal 'understands' Wimbledon position as he blames players for divide

Rafael Nadal press conference

Rafael Nadal says he 'understands' Wimbledon's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players and he is still hopeful the players can come together to find a mutually beneficial solution.

Following Wimbledon's sanctioning of players from Russia and Belarus, the ATP and WTA sanctioned Wimbledon straight back by stripping them of rankings points.

It has naturally been a very controversial issue in tennis since the announcement, with Naomi Osaka already admitting she will likely skip Wimbledon without the reward of ranking points on offer.

Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, has backed the decision despite it being set to cost him the world number one spot and says he has every intention to defend his title regardless.

However, Rafael Nadal has positioned himself straight down the middle, saying more could be gained from understanding both sides of the argument and seeking a middle ground that could be from in-fighting with in the sport.

“I don’t have a clear opinion [about Wimbledon]," Rafael Nadal said. "The problem with the players’ side is always the same.

"From the tournament’s side, there is always a person or a board that makes the decision, and the rest of the people running the event follow that decision.

"In our tour, every player has a different opinion, and that is why we never achieve the things that we could achieve if we came together.

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Rafael Nadal celebrates at Roland Garros

"The ATP board made a decision, and we need to accept that. The rest of the things… I will not be the player who comes here and put my board in a tough position for the decision that they have made.

"As players, we are not prepared well enough to make important decisions because at the end it is an individual sport and everyone has their own personal views in terms of how much profit they get from every decision that the ATP makes.

"I understand both sides. I understand Wimbledon’s position, without a doubt, but on the other hand I understand and respect the ATP for respecting their members, and that’s it.

"It’s not that one is doing a positive thing and one is negative. In my personal opinion, there are good reasons for them to make the decisions that they have made today, and hopefully the ATP and Wimbledon can be together and negotiate a better future for both sides.”

Rafael Nadal is a two-time Wimbledon champion, although he has not played it since 2019 due to Covid and injury.

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