Anastasia Potapova has said Russian athletes are becoming “hostages of the current situation” amid the uncertainty over whether she will face Ukrainian Elina Svitolina on Tuesday.
World No 15 Svitolina is set to face Potapova in the first round at the Monterrey Open, but cast doubt on her participation in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Monday, Svitolina urged the WTA to follow IOC guidance and ensure Russian and Belarussian tennis players compete as “neutral athletes”, adding that she will not play until this sanction is implemented.
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It remains to be seen whether the WTA will grant Svitolina’s wishes before the match takes place, while Potapova took to Instagram to speak out against the war.
“As a rule, even in childhood we choose our own path of development. Even when I was a kid, I dreamed of playing tennis without choosing a match, a country or a partner in the game,” Potapova said.
“It is difficult to explain to people from politics that for me there is no opponent from any country, I am fighting for victory, my best game, for my result.
“Unfortunately, now we, professional athletes, are essentially becoming hostages of the current situation. Playing tennis is our choice and our dream, to which we go daily, practicing, and constantly trying to be better in our results. I’m sorry, but even though I am a stranger to politics, I am against grief, tears and war.
“The peace unites the world, and everyone should remain human in it. And children should continue to dream.”
Svitolina, who told Eurosport that she plans to donate all her prize money to Ukraine, had thanked the Russian and Belarussian athletes who had already spoken out against the war in her statement on Monday.
She said: “I do not blame any of the Russian athletes. They are not responsible for the invasion of our motherland. Moreover, I wish to pay tribute to all the players, especially Russians and Belarussians, who bravely stated their position against the war. Their support is essential.”
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova strongly criticised Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while new men’s No 1 Daniil Medvedev was also critical of Vladimir Putin’s assault.
“By being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world,” Medvedev said last week. “We play in so many different countries. It's just not easy to hear all this news. I'm all for peace.”

Which tennis stars could become 'neutral athletes'?

If tennis governing bodies did decide to class Russian or Belarusian nationals as 'neutral athletes' then several high-profile players would be impacted.
Among them would be newly-crowned world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, world No. 6 Andrey Rublev, and top-30 players Aslan Karatsev and Karen Khachanov, who are all Russian.
Women's world No 3 Aryna Sabalenka is from Belarus and there are five Russian women in the top 50 in the world: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Veronika Kudermetova, Daria Kasatkina, Liudmila Samsonova, and Ekaterina Alexandrova.
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