Andy Murray is ‘not favourable’ to banning players from Russia and Belarus at Wimbledon but says there is no ‘right answer’ on the issue.
Players from both countries cannot play in this year’s Grand Slam due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has also banned Russian and Belarusian players from all other UK grass-court tournaments.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal called the ban ‘very unfair’.
Belarusian players were included in the ban because the country supported Russia’s military action in Ukraine.
In March, the British government is heard having asked the national governing bodies to seek written confirmation from Russian and Belarusian players of their neutrality if they wanted to participate in events in England.
The AELTC, which organizes Wimbledon, consulted the government in April on whether to allow players to compete.
When the ban was announced on April 20, he was backed by UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, and criticized by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“I am not in favor of banning players,” said Britain’s Murray, who will face Dominic Thiem in the first round of the Madrid Open on Monday.
“Advice from the government has not been helpful.
“My understanding of the guidelines was that Russians and Belarusians can play if they sign a statement that they are against the war and against the Russian regime.
“I don’t know how I would feel if something happened to any of the players or their families. [as a result of signing the form].
“I don’t think there is a right answer. I spoke to some Russian players. I spoke to some Ukrainian players. I feel really bad for the players who are not allowed to play and I understand that it will seem unfair to them, but I also know some people who work at Wimbledon and I know how difficult a position they were in.
“I feel for everyone, I feel for the players who can’t play, and I don’t support either one.”
Serbian Novak Djokovic called the ban “crazy”, while Russian world number eight Andrey Rublev said the ban was “total discrimination” and “illogical”.
However, some players, including Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, praised the Wimbledon action, although the former semi-finalist said Russian and Belarus players who speak out against the invasion should be allowed to compete.
“I think it’s very unfair [on] my Russian tennis comrades, my colleagues,” Spaniard Nadal said.
“It’s not their fault what’s happening right now with the war.”
The governing bodies of men’s (ATP) and women’s (WTA) professional tennis are against the ban and are deciding how to respond. One possibility is that they could remove ranking points from the Grand Slam tournament, which runs from June 27 to July 10.
“The 2,000 points, every time we go to the Grand Slams, they are really important and we have to go to these tournaments,” added Nadal, who is a member of the ATP player council. “So we will have to see what measures we take.
“It doesn’t matter what happens in our game when you see so many people dying and suffering and seeing the bad situation they are in in Ukraine.”
Nadal is expected to return to the Madrid Open this week, having been sidelined since March 22 with a rib injury.
“Speaking of injury, I’m healed, I feel good,” said Nadal, who won the Australian Open earlier this year.
“Talking about my tennis game and my preparations, well, that’s a completely different story.
“Anyone who has broken a rib knows how limiting it is, very painful, especially the first few weeks. I couldn’t do anything without a lot of difficulty, even falling asleep because of the pain.
“I’ve improved from when I arrived here but I still have ups and downs because it’s been a long time without being in these kinds of situations and it’s going to be a tough week for sure.”