Australian Chris O’Connell has become the first player to admit he’s thinking the unthinkable – ditching the chance to play at Wimbledon because no ranking points will be on offer.
The Sydney battler, who enjoyed the best tournament of his career at this year’s Australian Open, says he may snub the chance to play the world’s greatest tournament because his dream of making the men’s top 100 is more important to him.
Instead of playing on the hallowed lawns of the All England Club, O’Connell and his backroom team are thinking instead of playing in other low-profile tournaments, on grass or clay, where points will be on offer.
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“My ambition is to make the top 100. If I go to Wimbledon, then I’m in qualifying first and I waste a week there,” he said after bowing out in the French Open first round on Sunday.
“And if I happen to qualify, then I waste another week.
“So I’m speaking with coaches about what I’m going to do, to be honest. I don’t know if I’ll play.”
Wimbledon has been stripped of its ranking points by the ATP and WTA Tours over its decision to exclude players from Russia and Belarus due to the invasion of Ukraine.
And the topic was the talk of the opening day at Roland Garros among players, most of whom were left reflecting on their disappointment about the decision.
But while no others were talking publicly about the prospect of turning their backs on the event, O’Connell – who lost his opening-round match to Aljaz Bedene in four sets – reckoned the issue had become a dilemma for players across the ATP Tour.
“Yeah, I’m sure it is,” he said.
“I’m sure a lot of players are talking about it at the moment and figuring what they’re going to do.”
In his case, as No.124 in the world, he dreams of earning the points that will take him into the top 100.
“There’s plenty of lead-in tournaments that are offering points, but then again, I could play clay-court tennis,” he said.
“That’s just my situation – I’m just outside the top 100 – but a lot of other people are thinking differently.”
And if Wimbledon did offer points this year? “I’m playing Wimbledon – 100 per cent,” he said, emphatically.
Britain’s Cameron Norrie also thinks some top players could spurn Wimbledon and says it would resemble an exhibition event.
“Obviously, it’s an extremely difficult situation with everything going on with the war, but for me it’s tough,” Norrie told reporters.
“Having a home slam and not having to gain any ranking points from that and the tradition of it.
“You’re not really playing for anything, you’re playing this almost like an exhibition.
“So for me it was tough to see that and obviously it’s a really tricky situation but I would have liked to see it still have points, still have something on the line.”