Comment – Why the removal Wimbledon’s ranking points could backfire on the ATP and WTA

Wimbledon sign

The ATP and WTA bucked a global trend when they punished Wimbledon for banning Russian and Belarusian players – and it could backfire on them in the weeks and months ahead.

Wimbledon has been stripped of its ATP ranking points following the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this summer’s championships.

The governing bodies of the men’s and women’s tours had both criticised the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from SW19 this year following the invasion of Ukraine, yet there is a feeling within tennis that this decision could create unrest among players.

The ATP and WTA are the governing bodies of the men’s and women’s tours, yet several players have already expressed their desire to have a say in a decision that is one of the most significant the two organisations have ever taken.

Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev thanked tennis professionals for their ‘support’ of Russian players earlier this month, but it will be interesting to see whether support for the ATP and WTA decision can now hold as players come to terms with the reality that their ranking is set to plummet.

Ukrainian player Alex Dolgopolov was one of the first players to express his disappointment at the ATP decision in a hard-hitting tweet (below) and he will not be alone in feeling frustrated by the lack of input most of the players had in this decision.

The Daily Mail are reporting that “that more than 100 singles and doubles players signed a letter protesting the measure, seeing it as heaping one unfairness on the other, and this is unlikely to be the end of the matter”, and therein lies the crisis that could now grip the ATP.

Their unfathomable decision not to freeze the ranking points collected by their members at Wimbledon last year means Novak Djokovic will lose the world No.1 ranking and Daniil Medvedev is likely to take over as world No.1.

That story is just one of many that could and should have been avoided by the ATP, who should have ensured points collected at Wimbledon last year remained on the records of players for an extra 12 months.

So while the game’s top players will still turn up to play at Wimbledon as the prize money is still worth chasing and their image is enhanced by playing at the most prestigious tournament in the world, this decision could cause a split among players that could have long-term ramifications.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic appeared to be fighting a losing battle as he attempted to attract players to his Professional Tennis Players Association, a rival organisation to the ATP that has failed to have the impact on the sport he was hoping for.

Yet if players feel this decision on Wimbledon without credible consultation, the visible split between Wimbledon and the game’s Tour chiefs could yet become a civil battle with the within the ATP and WTA.