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    “The British Government is showing that politics is more important than peace” – Andrey Rublev speaks directly

    RIYADH – The outlook for Russian tennis players ahead of Wimbledon 2023 is not encouraging. For now, they will remain banned from participating in the Grand Slam that starts in early July.
    The players had a meeting with the directors of the majors and the ATP, where they showed all their willingness to help and reverse the measure that prohibited all Russian competitors to play The Championships.
    “We were very honest, giving them a lot of options, many ways to help. We want to come back and play, but they are not interested,” Andrey Rublev told CLAY in Saudi Arabia during an interview in which he did not dodge the sensitivity of the issue.
    The Russian, always publicly against his country’s military attack on Ukraine, since the outbreak of the conflict, spoke in-depth and did not hide his annoyance at the British leaders: “They don’t want to help. Probably they proved that for them is all about politics”.
    – What were the positive and negative personal consequences of speaking out publicly against the war in Ukraine?
    – It’s simple. The easiest way how I can make my statement, to show what I’m standing for, is the tennis court. It’s the only platform I can see to show how important is to be kind, to be humble, to have a right education for a better generation, for a better world. I try to use this platform in a good way. Also not to show that I might try to be acting, not natural, you know? Because if you start to do this too much it will also be not really that natural. I just do it in the right moment.
    If you have an opportunity to meet face to face a leader of your country involved in the conflict, what would you tell him?
    – It’s tough to imagine the situation because I’m not in that world. These kind of people they will never talk to me face to face. There are so many things we don’t know and only they know. But the most important thing is that normal people cannot suffer, they cannot pay for their leaders’ mistakes. Normal people have to enjoy life, not going through this horrible situation.
    Have you felt extra pressured? Your mum said in an interview recently that you felt harassed in media conferences over your views of the war.
    – I always try to look the reality not from my point of view, but from the feelings of the people that are struggling. In my position, I cannot complain. I have everything in my life: I’m able to travel, I play tennis, I have a good time, and obviously to say that I feel harassed because of something is just not nice in front of the people who really suffer. Of course I’ve had different feelings, but you cannot compare to the real situation, to what the rest of the people are experiencing and feeling.
    What is your suggestion to the England All Tennis Club ahead of this year’s Wimbledon?
    – We had a meeting with the Grand Slams and the ATP. It’s really good that ATP is more open to help everyone. We were very honest, giving a lot of options, many ways to help. Really help. Because, if they ban us for the second year, we will see no changes and will be worst for tennis. Only we make more fire in the tennis. And it doesn’t help the situation. We are offering help in any direction that is possible. We want to show that tennis can be bigger than politics.
    You have a big desire to come back to London and play Wimbledon.
    – So we were offering this, but they are not interested. They really don’t want to help. The government of England probably proved that for them is all about politics. They are showing that politics is more important than peace. We can show a strong message, at least for one time, that sport can be separated from political issues. Could be a good start. I know that’s difficult, because they will always use sport to manipulate politics.
    You said in an interview: “Everyone has a weakness. Mine is mental”. How are you working on this?
    – Some exercises, meditation, stuff like that. I’m doing everything. By myself, analysing, accepting the things, especially when is tough to accept. Being honest with yourself when you are doing something wrong: it’s my fault, it’s not someone else fault. So many people try to find an excuse or try to blame everyone else, but never themselves.
     How important is to recognize the own weakness in tennis?
    – At least is the first step. Many people don’t want to accept they have weaknesses, because they feel maybe afraid others will learn more about them, or maybe because of egos. It´s been a journey. I’ve know my weakness for many years. For me the mental thing is the hardest part. Is easier to improve technical stuff or physical stuff for me. Maybe other players will struggle to improve the backhand and can easily control the mental part. Every person have his weapons and weaknesses. I improve the forehand very natural, yeah.
    – Have you recognized the reasons why your mental side is the weak one?
    – It’s just because the way I am. I’m very emotional and I take everything very personal when it’s something important to me… and tennis obviously is everything to me. Every match, every point I take it very emotional and very personal. I take everything too deep and that’s why improving mentally demands time for me.

    Andrey Rublev playing the Diriyah Tennis Cup in Riyadh, where he gave this interview // ALEXANDER SCHEUBER

    You have never been in a semi final of a Grand Slam. Six quarter finals and six defeats. How much you crave to be in the lasts rounds of the important tournaments?
    – Of course I want to achieve the maximum. To win a Slam, to win few Slams, to be number one. But nobody know if I will make it or not. Everyone wants to win. Time will show if it will finally happen.
    Why Djokovic and Nadal are still winning everything?
    – First of all, because they are among the greatest of all history and just happened that are in this same era. On top of that, they have amazing experience from the journey they’ve been through in tennis. So they know exactly what to do in the right moment.
    Despite not being able to play it, do you like how the Davis Cup is looking?
    – Some things are good, others, not. Maybe is better that we don’t play every time in the year.  I remember myself loosing two weeks of tournaments everytime I played a match up. I was ranked 170-160, and instead of playing the tour, I needed to go with the team for two weeks. I was dropping ranking for like 30 positions, and after the competition I felt I had to start again. I was no showing good results and I felt Davis Cup was kinda stopping the process. At the same time, there was home matches, away matches, for some countries it was really important because they really love tennis. The home crowd was amazing.
    Any suggestion for a new format?
    – In my opinion they should need something like a World Cup. Every two or four years. That would be much more special, because, imagine, in the previous format, you finished the process at the end of November winning, and at the beginning of February you needed to play the first round. You won the trophy two months ago and you have to play already again. In my opinion that feeling was not so special. At least is something better to wait a bit and enjoy the moment.
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    Clay’s general producer has been covering the world of tennis for more than 10 years, with experience in Grand Slams, ATP tournaments, Olympic Games and Davis Cup.

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