Russian Andrey Rublev has expressed his support for peace after reaching the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
The second seed took to Instagram ahead of her match against American Mackenzie McDonald to post images of friendship with Ukraine following Russia’s large-scale attack on the country.
After recovering from a bad start to claim a 2-6 6-3 6-1 win, Rublev said: “At times like this you realize my game is not important. It’s not about my match, how it affects me. What is happening is much more terrible.
“You realize how important it is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what, to be united. We have to take care of our land and each other. the most important thing.
Rublev shared similar thoughts this weekend after teaming up with Ukrainian Denys Molchanov to win a doubles title in Marseille.
The 24-year-old from Moscow also opened up about the online abuse he faces due to his nationality.
He said: “Of course I get bad comments on the internet because I’m Russian, so I get aggressive comments. I cannot react on them because if I react on them, I will show the same thing.
“If I want to have peace, I have to act like it doesn’t matter. Even if they throw stones at me, I have to show that I’m for peace, I’m not here to be aggressive or anything, even if I’m not responsible for something. I think that’s the right way to do it, at least for me.
Elina Svitolina, Ukraine’s most prominent tennis player, changed her Twitter profile picture to a hand in the colors of the country’s flag next to the words “Pray for Ukraine”.
She also posted a message expressing her sadness over the situation, writing, “I can’t,” along with crying and heartbroken emojis.
No main tour event is scheduled to take place in Russia until the fall, but the Moscow Cup, a second-round ATP Challenger Tour stop that was scheduled for next week, has now been cancelled.
A statement from the ATP reads: “Due to player safety concerns and uncertainty related to international travel following the recent escalation of events between Russia and Ukraine, the ATP Challenger Tournament of next week in Moscow will not take place as planned.
“Player safety will remain our top priority in evaluating the scheduling of upcoming ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour events in the region. We continue to monitor the situation.”
A third-tier International Tennis Federation event in Kazan is scheduled for early April.
An ITF spokeswoman told the PA news agency: “The ITF believe there is no place in sport for politics but, as these current events show, it is is a deeply worrying reality.
“Some ITF Junior and Senior Tour events are scheduled in Russia this year. Our first and highest priority is the health and safety of players and all who travel, participate and work at these events.
“We are monitoring developments in this situation closely and any course of action will be decided based on a thorough risk assessment and the advice we receive from security experts and relevant authorities.”
An ITF event in Vyshkovo, Ukraine, which was scheduled to take place from April 18-24 was postponed Thursday.