Daniil Medvedev has admitted his tennis career is in jeopardy as sports around the world continue to expel Russian athletes from competition.
The 26-year-old Russian star, who recently secured the world No.1 ranking from Novak Djokovic, revealed his concerns during a press conference ahead of the Indian Wells Masters in the US.
While Russians and Belarusian tennis players are currently competing as neutrals amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Medvedev accepted there’s a possibility his career could soon be put on ice.
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“We never know, some sports made this decision (to expel Russian athletes), especially I would think the team sports,” Medvedev said.
“Tennis is probably one of the most individual sports we have in the world. Everyone’s living in so many different places.
“There’s always a possibility, but I hope not.”
Medvedev said he just wanted to play tennis and wasn’t concerned that he could no longer compete under the Russian flag.
“It’s always tough to talk on this subject because I want to play tennis – play in different countries,” he said in California.
“I want to promote my sport, I want to promote what I’m doing in my country for sure, and right now the situation is that that is the only way I can play.”
The 2022 Australian Open finalist also sent out a message of peace, soon after he notably removed the Russian flag from his Instagram account in a move widely perceived as an attempt to distance himself from the invasion.
“My message is always the same – I want peace in all of the world,” Medvedev said.
“I think every tennis player is going to say the same.”
Indeed, support for the Ukrainian people has been pouring out from the tennis community.
Former world No.1s Maria Sharapova and Andy Murray have recently pledged to support relief funds for children affected by the invasion.
Two million people – mostly women and children – have now fled Ukraine.
Polish tennis star Iga Swiatek encouraged people to support humanitarian organisations and said she was proud that her country had taken in refugees.
She will wear a small ribbon in the colours of the Ukrainian flag when she competes and hoped others might do the same.
“If other players feel able to support Ukraine with this symbolic gesture, we prepared more of these ribbons and can give you some,” she wrote in a tweet on Wednesday.
Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, whose home country has served as a staging ground for Russia’s invasion, told reporters she would be willing to wear the Ukraine ribbon.
“I feel really sad and really bad about the Ukrainian citizens who lost their homes during the war,” said Sabalenka, who like Medvedev is the top seed at Indian Wells.
“I’m really worried about it, but unfortunately it is not under my control.
“I just hope for peace.”
While Russians and Belarusian players will not be identified by their nation’s symbols, Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska, who fled the violence with her younger sister, came out for her first-round match on Wednesday night draped in her country’s blue and yellow flag.
Yastremska, who has won three WTA titles, pledged to donate her prizemoney from reaching the Lyon Open final last weekend to Ukrainian aid efforts.
– With Reuters