Britain’s most successful doubles player Jamie Murray has expressed sympathy for the All England Club over the Wimbledon ranking points fiasco, but ultimately agreed that the ATP Tour “had to take a stand”.
Like his brother Andy, Murray sees both sides of the argument. As well as being an AELTC member he also has personal experience of tennis’ convoluted governance system, having spent three years on the ATP player council before stepping down in 2019.
In his view, the British government have let Wimbledon down by asking the AELTC to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes without issuing a mandate.
“It’s a difficult situation isn’t it?” said Murray, who is due to face the American duo of Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald on Friday. “It’s a bit of a mess. Me, I have got friends at the ATP, friends at Wimbledon, friends at the Lawn Tennis Association. It’s not an easy situation to be in.
“Obviously the wider player group would prefer to play for ranking points. I don’t think that is a secret. For me, I understand the situation that Wimbledon are in. The government giving informal guidance is not really helping anyone because they are pushing pressure on Wimbledon to not have Russian and Belarusian athletes at their tournament.
“Then it gets awkward and that is why we are in this situation with rankings points and breaching the agreements and things like that. Unfortunately it is the players that are in the middle of it.
“I guess the concern for the tour is: where does it end? Next week, another country could say: ‘We don’t want Spanish players playing in our tournament,’ or British players. The tour has to take a stand. It doesn’t feel like they have many options at their disposal but obviously the ranking points is the big one for them and what separates the grand slams from our Masters tournaments on the ATP.”
Murray takes a forgiving view, but there are plenty of people who feel that the ATP Tour’s management should have consulted the wider player group rather than taking their lead from the seven full members of the player council.
“I was never asked by anybody, did I want points or not want points,” said Neal Skupski, another leading British doubles player who could potentially face Murray – his former partner – in the third round of the French Open. “Maybe the ATP could just have sent out a text message saying: ‘Points. Yes? No? What do you think?’
“From what I’ve heard, a lot of the guys are wanting points,” Skupski added. “I don’t know who the ATP contacted about this. I think the player council voted on it. I don’t know if they contacted Andy [Murray] because he’s such a big figure in tennis. Or maybe Jamie on the doubles side. From what I’ve heard they weren’t in contact with anybody. So I think what they should be doing is communicating with the players. If that was happening, I think the players would be a lot happier with the decision rather than not being in the loop.”