Daniil Medvedev and co carrying a ‘big burden’ due to Russia-Ukraine conflict, says former world No 1

Daniil Medvedev plays a shot

Daniil Medvedev and the other Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian players on the ATP and WTA Tours are being weighed down by the ongoing conflict in Europe, according to tennis great Chris Evert.

Players on both Tours are not allowed to compete under the Russian flag or name following the invasion of Ukraine in February with a directive stating they can only compete as individuals.

The majority of tennis players have called for peace while men’s world No 1 Medvedev has admitted he is relieved still be playing tennis after several sports banned Russian players from competing.

Daniil Medvedev ‘relieved’ to be still be playing despite calls for Russian ban

Former women’s world No 1 and 18-time Grand Slam champion Evert admits those affected by the invasion are going through a tough time.

“I feel for any of the players who have come from that part of the world and who have family and roots, whether it’s in Russia or Ukraine or Belarus,” she told Eurosport.

“It’s got to be a big burden for these players to carry around while they’re trying to compete. In order to compete at the highest level, you usually have to be focused on your tennis, and this isn’t the case. So, we have to have some understanding if these players don’t exactly do as well as they’re used to, that there’s just so many more important things going on in their life than a tennis match.”

Medvedev rose to No 1 at the end of February and the BNP Paribas Open is his first event since claiming top spot.

His rise to the top came on the back of winning the 2021 US Open and finishing runner-up at this year’s Australian Open.

Evert added: “I think Medvedev, with his record, does deserve to be No 1.

“He is a champion. He’s grown into being comfortable with big wins on big stages. And his game has really developed and it’s hard to find any weaknesses in him.”