ATP spares 2 British tournaments for banning Russian players

LONDON (AP) The Queen's and Eastbourne tournaments were spared punishment from the ATP on Monday for banning Russian and Belarussian players.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine prompted the British Lawn Tennis Association and the All England Club - the host of Wimbledon - in April to bar players from Russia and its war ally Belarus from the coming British grass-court season.

The ATP and WTA objected at the time.

On Monday, the ATP said "Queen's and Eastbourne will proceed as normal, offering full ATP ranking points."

The governing body of the men's tour added it consulted with its player and tournament councils. The likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were against the ban, while Sergiy Stakhovsky, the retired Ukraine Davis Cup player who joined the military when the war started, supported it.

"LTA's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes is, however, contrary to ATP rules and undermines the ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination - a fundamental principle of the ATP Tour," it said in a statement.

"Sanctions related to LTA's violation of ATP rules will now be assessed separately under ATP governance. ATP's response to Wimbledon's decision remains under review, with more to be communicated in due course."

The LTA said it welcomed the ATP decision.

"Based on the international condemnation of Russia's war on Ukraine and the U.K. government's guidance we believe we have taken the right decision in these difficult circumstances," the LTA said in a statement.

"We are aware of the impact on individual Russian and Belarusian players, however the need for them to sign a declaration (condemning the invasion) meant that entry to the events would never have rested solely on merit. We will continue to engage with the ATP and their processes over the coming weeks."

The WTA has yet to respond to the bans.

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Updated May 16, 2022

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