Benoit Paire has hit out at the decision to strip ranking points from Wimbledon, saying it will be like “going to an exhibition tournament just to cash a cheque”.
Wimbledon ruled that Russian and Belarusian players will be banned from competing this summer following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The move goes against the current regulations on the ATP and WTA tours, and the governing bodies responded by stripping all ranking points from the Grand Slam.
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That means players will not be able to improve their rankings at Wimbledon and those defending points from last year will automatically drop them.
Paire, who is one of the more outspoken players on the ATP Tour, requested to speak to the media following his French Open loss to Ilya Ivashka to give his views on the subject.
“We are going to play a tournament without any points. When some people had Covid, we didn't say, ‘oh, okay, we should cancel the tournament altogether’.
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“But then we have three or four Russian players, including [world No. 2 Daniil] Medvedev, and we are rallying against Wimbledon. I think it's a pity, because if we were to listen to all the players, players do not understand this decision – 99% of players, they want to have points and to play the tournament as it was before.
“So I want to know if ATP wants to defend players or Russia.”
The decision to remove ranking points means 2021 men’s Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic will not be able to defend 2,000 points.
Women’s champion Ashleigh Barty will not be impacted as she has retired, but runner-up Karolina Pliskova will drop 1,300 points.
“I will go there to get my prize money, as I would for an exhibition tournament,” added Paire.
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“But the question is: Why didn't they talk with players upstream? Yes, when they say there was a council which voted, nobody told us about this. If it's a war between ATP and Wimbledon, it's not nice for us, because we want to play normally.
“I'm sorry for Russia and Russians, but they are the ones causing all the trouble. And all the ATP players are actually paying the price. Medvedev will be No. 1 worldwide. This is absurd. We should actually take [a] position for all the players in the world, and it's the opposite that is being done right now.
“There is a war in Russia, so there can be some sanctions that can be made. But the ATP should defend the majority of players, not four or five players. All the other players are actually having problems because of this decision.
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“Remember Covid, when three or four players couldn't play because they had Covid because they were locked in their room? They didn't decide to freeze the points. No, that's not the decision that was made. And I don't understand this. We are all penalised by this. It feels like we are going to an exhibition tournament just to cash a cheque.”
World No. 8 Pliskova says she will play the tournament but believes the decision to remove ranking points is “unfair”.
“I think it’s super tough and an unfair and bad decision,” she said.
“But I suppose there’s not much you can do about it. I still want to go and compete there, that’s for sure, because I’m not playing because of the points, not even because of the money.
“I just, of course, I want to win and I want to succeed and I want to maybe get the trophy because I was quite close last year.”
Pliskova battled back to beat Tessah Andrianjafitrimo 2-6 6-3 6-1 in the first round of the French Open.
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