Tennis: Wimbledon points removal added pressure, says beaten Shapovalov

Martyn WOOD, Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 24 2022 11:13 PM

Denis Shapovalov's Instagram page
Denis Shapovalov's Instagram page

Canada's Denis Shapovalov said the decision to strip Wimbledon of ranking points placed him under extra pressure in his first-round loss at the French Open on Tuesday.

The 14th seed was defeated in straight sets by Danish teenager Holger Rune, leaving him with just two wins in four trips to Roland Garros.

Shapovalov pulled out of last year's tournament in Paris with a shoulder injury, but returned at Wimbledon and reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic.

He stands to lose 720 points from his run at the All England Club after the ATP and WTA tours moved to withhold ranking points for Wimbledon in response to the tournament's ban on Russian and Belarusian players.

"It's difficult right now. I think it's a little bit added pressure on me, knowing that losing a lot of points and not able to defend," Shapovalov said following his 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) loss to Rune.

"I knew going into this tournament the last couple days that it's going to be very important for me to go deep here, otherwise it's going to be awhile until I can gain some points in New York."

Shapovalov added that he objected both to the ban imposed by Wimbledon and the decision to strip the points.

"I think they could have gone with it a different way, maybe keep 50 percent like they have in the past or some kind of fairness," he said.

Djokovic still intends to go to Wimbledon next month, but Naomi Osaka has said she might pull out as the sport's most prestigious tournament risks being reduced to the status of an exhibition event.

Shapovalov gave no indications as to his plans, but made clear his discontent at the lack of player input.

"No, nothing. Not at all. I think most of the time most players aren't consulted," Shapovalov replied when asked if he was part of any discussions over the ranking points issue.

Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, admitted she was also in two minds over Wimbledon.

"If there are no points, I'm not really sure what I'm going to do," the Latvian 13th seed said after beating Italy's Lucia Bronzetti in round one at Roland Garros.

"I feel like it's a little bit unfair to play the tournament when there are no points and you kind of, you can win the tournament and then you don't move one spot up in the ranking. 

"So it's a little bit strange. But of course it's very prestigious tournament, so still, I mean, of course I love Wimbledon and I want to play it. Hopefully something will change within the next few weeks."

It is still possible the ATP and WTA opt to freeze the 2021 Wimbledon rankings points, as was the case for tour events following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It has to be fair to everyone. Of course we players can say our opinions, but I feel like still we are not the ones who are making the decision," added Ostapenko. 

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