Players criticise “weak” ATP statement on Peng Shuai

Former world No 1s Andy Roddick and Martina Navratilova were among many big names to criticise the substance of Andrea Gaudenzi’s statement

Peng Shuai junior event screenshot AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Former world No 1s Andy Roddick and Martina Navratilova were among a wide group of players, past and present, to be heavily critical of an ATP statement issued on Thursday with regard to the Peng Shuai situation in China, which fell well short of backing the WTA’s announcement that they will be pulling all business from the country.

From “weak” to “this is piss”, the ATP statement was slammed for its wording and content, less than 24 hours after WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon issued a statement that received widespread approval from players on both Tours.

Former doubles No 1 Peng disappeared last month after apparently posting accusations of sexual assault against a former high-ranking Chinese government official. Though she has been seen in two videos since, the WTA has not been able to contact her directly and doubts about her freedom remain.

On Thursday, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi issued a statement of his own, urging for a “line of open direct communication between the player and the WTA in order to establish a clearer picture of her situation”.

However, with the statement also saying that “having a global presence gives us the best chance of creating opportunity and making an impact”, it fell well short of following suit and suggested that the ATP will not be pulling any business out of China.

Andy Roddick: “How to say a lot of words and say nothing”

The statement was quickly shared on social media and players were even quicker to criticise.

Former world No 1 Andy Roddick said the ATP statement lacked substance.

Former women’s No 1 Martina Navratilova said the ATP had not shown the same strength as the WTA.

Dustin Brown agreed with Roddick and even wondered aloud about how the former ATP chairman and CEO Chris Kermode might have dealt with the situation.

American Reilly Opelka, never one to hide his feelings, was quick with the sarcasm.

American Noah Rubin just posted “weak” on social media while Tennys Sandgren said the statement showed how little impact players had on the leadership of the men’s game.

British Davis Cup player Liam Broady slammed both the ATP and IOC, who had earlier put out a statement saying it had held a second video call with Peng – without posting the video – and said it was using “quiet diplomacy”.

And former world No 7 and the USA’s current Davis Cup captain, Mardy Fish, left nobody in any doubt as to what he thought.

World No 2 Daniil Medvedev said Simon’s statement had been very strong but didn’t criticise Gaudenzi and said that the fact that the next scheduled ATP event in China is not until next autumn could be important.

“I don’t want to blame anybody for not doing, let’s say, the same thing.” he said. “Maybe Andrea (Gaudenzi) has a different opinion on what to do in this situation and how to react. I don’t want to say which one is good or bad. But definitely what WTA did is strong. Yeah, there was a lot of money involved there. It’s really strong from Simon to make this decision.”

“Right now what we have is a person missing, and that’s not nice. Hopefully the issue can be solved because we can
never know what’s going to happen. That’s why I don’t want to comment this early because, yeah, if the tournament would be next week, probably nobody would feel comfortable (playing). Again…a lot of countries have different issues, yet we play in most of them tennis tournaments.”

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