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Benoit Paire on Wimbledon: “I will get my prize money, as I would for an exhibition”

The Frenchman slammed Wimbledon and the ATP for their respective decisions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Benoit Paire RG 2022 Zuma/Panoramic

Not for the first time, Benoit Paire took matters into his own hands when it came to his press conference on Tuesday as he launched into a diatribe at Roland-Garros, aimed at Wimbledon and the ATP for their decisions in the wake of their rulings following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Frenchman, beaten 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 by Ilya Ivashka in the first round, had not even been requested for a general press conference but asked for one himself and then said he would play Wimbledon, but only to collect his prize money.

“I will go there to get my prize money, as I would for an exhibition tournament,” he said.

Paire was asked about his match, at first, but soon turned things around to the subject he wanted to talk about.

“I would like to talk about Wimbledon, however. I would like to know if ATP defends more players or Russia,” Paire said, after glossing over the moderator’s opening question.

“This is why I wanted to talk with you guys. Because we are going to play a tournament without any points. When some people had COVID, we didn’t say, Oh, OK, we should cancel the tournament altogether.

“But then we have three or four Russian players, including (Daniil) Medvedev, and we are rallying against Wimbledon. I think it’s a pity, because if we were to listen to all the players, players do not understand this decision. 99% of players, they want to have points and to play the tournament as it was before. So I want to know if ATP wants to defend players or Russia.”

Paire was referring to the decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s Championships and then the ruling by the ATP and WTA to remove ranking points from the event.

“I’m sorry for the Russians, but they are the ones causing the trouble”

Paire said he could not understand why the players had not been consulted, something backed up by many of his follow players in the past few days at Roland-Garros.

“But the question is: why didn’t they talk with players upstream?” he said. “Yes, when they say there was a council which voted, nobody told us about this. If it’s a war between ATP and Wimbledon, it’s not nice for us, because we want to play normally.

“I’m sorry for Russia and Russians, but they are the ones causing all the trouble. And all the ATP players are actually paying the price.

“Medvedev will be No 1 worldwide. This is absurd. We should actually take position for all the players in the world, and it’s the opposite that is being done right now.”

Paire said too many players were being affected by the decision, with many of them losing points from last year’s event.

“Yes, there is a war in Russia, so there can be some sanctions that can be made. But ATP should defend the majority of players, not four or five players.

“All the other players are actually having problems because of this decision. Remember COVID, when three or four players couldn’t play because they had COVID because they were locked in their room? They didn’t decide to freeze the points. No, that’s not the decision that was made.

“I don’t understand this. We are all penalised by this. It feels like we are going to an exhibition tournament just to cash a cheque.”

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