Ukrainian former tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky has questioned Rafael Nadal after the world number four said Russian and Belarusian players should not be banned from playing at Wimbledon.

The All England Club, along with the Lawn Tennis Association, confirmed last month that Russian and Belarusian players would not be able to feature in their tournaments this year, including Wimbledon.

That decision came in the wake of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which was backed by Belarus.

It means that men's world number two and reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, as it stands, will not be competing at the season's third grand slam.

The ATP and WTA both want a rethink of the decision, while Nadal – along with Novak Djokovic – spoke out against the ban. Andy Murray, meanwhile, said he does not support the move, though understands the major's organisers are in a difficult position. 

 

"I think it's very unfair on my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues," Nadal told reporters.

"It's not their fault what's happening in this moment with the war. I'm sorry for them. Wimbledon just took their decision. The government didn't force them to do it.

"Let's see what happens in the next weeks, if the players will take some kind of decision in that regard."

However, former world number 31 Stakhovsky, who returned to his homeland to aid the resistance to Russia's attack, vehemently disagrees.

On his official Twitter account, Stakhovsy wrote: "@RafaelNadal we competed together... we've played each other on tour.

"Please tell me how it is fair that Ukrainian players cannot return home?

"How it is fair that Ukrainian kids cannot play tennis? How is it fair that Ukrainians are dying?"

Stakohvsky told Stats Perform in March that he was driven to fight the Russian forces despite having no formal military training, and left his family to do so.

Former Ukrainian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky is "pretty sure" he is on a Russian army target list after leaving his family to take up arms in defence of his country.

Stakhovsky, 36, recently returned to Kyiv to be part of the armed resistance following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The attack started last Thursday and it has continued since, with Ukrainian civilians subsequently arming themselves to fight for their country.

Stakhovsky has been especially active with media duties in the past few days, and as such he believes himself to be a marked man for speaking out against Vladimir Putin and Russia.

But the 36-year-old said he has been driven by a moral compass to fight the Russian forces despite having no formal military training.

He told Stats Perform: "You have to be scared. I mean, if you don't [get] scared then you're stupid, I guess. Then of course, you need to calculate all the circumstances and everything that could come out of it.

"I mean, I'm pretty sure that I'm on a nice list of the Russian army to, not be really – let's say – treated well. But it is what it is.

"Russia is a dictatorship state. If you show resistance, if you show that you don't agree with what they do, if you show that you don't want to have them here, they put you to the ground.

"They don't really argue with you. It's a state which is controlled by one man and the system is so rotten that it just eats up everybody who is not willing, who is actually expressing a different mind.

"So of course, it is scary, it is unpleasant. But... I can be scared in any part of the world. It's not going to change anything."

Stakhovsky, a father of three, felt he had an obligation to return to Kyiv to fight rather than stay with his family.

But he accepts there is only so much Ukrainians can do with the love, prayers and support of the world, urging politicians to do more without selling Ukraine out, convinced surrender will doom many more for speaking out.

"I wouldn't want any father to make that choice [to fight] or to make the decision anytime, anywhere in the world," he continued. "It's something that you don't really want to do. It's not, there's no right choice.

"In this case, I have three kids, which I have to raise, and I have to look after and I want to enjoy them finally, after finishing my career. And instead of that I'm here in Kyiv with a gun and trying to prove a point that Russia is doing the wrong thing.

"Yes, I'm morally right, 100 per cent and all of Ukraine is right. Russia is at fault, but the whole world just seems not to… well, the people of the world they care. They care and they send their appreciation, their love and their prayers and their support, but it's not going to do justice.

"The politicians are the main players in this whole area, and if they don't step up, if they don't save lives – because after all, the most important part in all of it in life is life itself – if they have a chance to save everything starting from tomorrow, they should.

"But they should not on terms that [mean] we give up [in] Ukraine and we save lives [by surrendering], because that's killing lives because then after they surrender Ukraine, the Russian machine will find every single individual who was in the resistance, who was willing to fight, and they will kill him, or put him in prison, they will poison him, they would kill him, it doesn't matter how, but they will find a way to get rid of these people.

"And we're talking about more hundreds and thousands of people. Russia these days is a Soviet Union of the Stalin era. It's a machine which is killing people."

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