Politicians launch attack on Federer and Nadal over call to strip Wimbledon of ranking points

Chris Bryant MP, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia, said: “Federer and Nadal should come clean. Do they want Vladimir Putin to fail or don’t they care?”

Recommendations by the 10-strong player council are not binding on the ATP – which condemned the Wimbledon ban when it was imposed last month.

But insiders feel its board has little choice but to take their advice on this issue during meetings this week at which a vote could take place.

Bryant added: “The men’s tour are behaving appallingly. It’s like they haven’t heard what is happening in Ukraine or don’t care.”

Clive Efford MP, a leading member of the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee and a former shadow sports minister, said: “The ATP needs to take a look around and appreciate how the rest of the world outside its bubble will view it for sanctioning Wimbledon for supporting Ukraine.”

A source with knowledge of the player’s council’s position said it had been arrived at with the “integrity of the rankings” in mind but was unable to explain how stripping Wimbledon and the UK’s other grass-court tournaments of ranking points better achieved that than a freeze.

Nadal also refused to be drawn into a debate on the issue, saying: “What’s going to be fair or most or less fair for everybody, nothing is perfect. When things like this happen, nothing will be perfect.”

Another source with knowledge of crisis talks between the All England Club and the ATP on the matter questioned the motives behind what appears an act of self-harm by players.

“This feels like penalising the many for the sake of the few, just to make a point,” said the source, who warned the All England Club had no intention of lifting the ban.

Wimbledon bosses suffered a blow last week when Sir Andy Murray, himself a member of the ATP Player Council until recently, refused to back its stance, saying: “I don’t support one side or the other.”

A representative of Murray said he would not be commenting further on Wednesday.

Wimbledon was not the only UK tournament facing being stripped of its ranking points last night after its ban was mirrored by the Lawn Tennis Association for other grass-court events this summer.

And while the row will not prevent the world’s best players turning up for tennis’s most prestigious grand slam, the same cannot be said for the likes of the cinch Championships at Queen’s Club or the Rothesay International at Eastbourne.

Those clash, respectively, with grass-court tournaments in Halle and Mallorca, which would become far more attractive to enter due to the ranking points on offer.

The All England Club, LTA, ATP and Government all declined to comment on Wednesday on the ongoing crisis.

But in an interview with the Evening Standard conducted before news of the player council’s position emerged, sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: “We completely supported the decision that Wimbledon made.

“While I understand there is some pushback from some players and governing bodies, I can tell you it’s got overwhelming support from the population. People understand exactly why they’ve done that.”

He added: “I don’t think we can be any clearer that Russia and Belarus are pariahs on the world sporting stage.

“And they will continue to be so as long as Putin continues to behave in the way he has.”

The WTA declined to comment on its own stance on stripping Wimbledon of ranking points.