Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal ‘didn’t answer’ war help cry but Djokovic sends message

Ukraine: Stakhovsky discusses leaving his wife and kids to fight

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Sergiy Stakhovsky has called out Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for failing to show their support for Ukraine. The recently-retired Ukrainian pro returned to his home country to join the reserves and defend Ukraine from the Russian invasion. The former world No 31 said Novak Djokovic was the only member of the Big Three to reach out to him in the wake of the conflict.

Stakhovsky has remained vocal in calling on support for his country as it is invaded by Russia.

The 36-year-old only retired from professional tennis in January at the Australian Open and has now left his family in Hungary to take up arms and defend Ukraine from invasion, telling his children he was leaving for another tennis tournament.

He has now opened up on the support received after travelling to his home country to join the defence, and admitted two of the sport’s biggest stars had remained silent.

“Djokovic sent me a message of support and we even had a little chat,” the four-time title winner told La Stampa.

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“I also tried to contact Federer and Nadal but without success.”

While Stakhovsky was disappointed not to hear from the two former world No 1s, he admitted he understood why they chose silence, saying it wasn’t their battle.

He continued: “I am sorry that you prefer to remain silent, although I understand them. It’s not their war.

“We have the support of great personalities, I hope it lasts.”

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Stakhovsky also admitted that sanctions on Russian and Belarusian athletes were helping but wouldn’t be enough to stop Vladimir Putin’s agenda.

“The support and even the restrictions and sanctions of the Russian federation in terms of sport, culture, is great, it’s working. I’m very sure it’s working,” he said, speaking on GMB.

“But it doesn’t stop him from what he’s doing and somebody needs to put a stop to him.”

The governing bodies in tennis are among the sporting organisations placing sanctions on players from the two nations.

The ATP, WTA, ITF and four Grand Slams released a joint statement on Tuesday, confirming all Russian and Belarusian players would compete as neutrals, without mentions of their respective countries or flags.

The joint ATP and WTA tournament held in Moscow in October has been suspended, and both nations will be unable to compete in the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup despite the Russian Tennis Federation being the defending champions of both team events.

Speaking from Kyiv, Stakhovsky also said his country was being punished for seeking a relationship with Europe.

He continued: “I would never in my life believe that they would invade on a full scale. But that’s what Russia’s agenda is – to deliver chaos and instability in Europe. We are being punished because we want a better life and are reaching out to Europe.”

Other players have shown solidarity with Ukraine, while Stakhovsky’s compatriot Elina Svitolina made a bold statement when she refused to play and Russian or Belarusian opponents, including her first-round at the Monterrey Open this week, unless they became neutrals.

A day after her statement, tennis’ main bodies confirmed they had made the decision and the world No 15 defeated Russia’s Anastasia Potapova 6-2 6-1 later that evening.

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