Tennis is a back-and-forth game, and so is politics. Just a few weeks ago, Wimbledon announced that they would be banning Russian and Belarussian players from entering the tournament. Their justification was that it would be unacceptable for Russia “to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players” since launching its “unjustified and unprecedented military aggression”. Despite the unpopularity of the war, almost every prominent player (active and retired) came out against the ban, and very few players besides Ukrainian players supported the decision. Part of that has to do with the history of the sport. As the ATP, the organisation behind the men’s tour, put it, “The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination is fundamental to our Tour”. Moreover, the ban also undermines the carefully crafted ranking system.
Because of Wimbledon’s decision, the ATP and the WTA (the women’s tour) felt compelled to react. They decided to strip ranking points from the tournament. Wimbledon is one of four majors, which award far more points than any other event. Moreover, these points are especially valuable to grass-court specialists, who often earn the lion’s share of their points on the surface. Curiously, because of last year’s grass results, stripping points will probably actually benefit Russian players, who are not particularly strong on the surface. Daniil Medvedev, a Russian ranked No. 2, is now in an excellent position to displace No. 1 Novak Djokovic after Wimbledon because Djokovic’s 2,000 points for winning Wimbledon last year will come off his total without being replaced. Medvedev, who reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon last year, will only lose 180 points. If the goal was to remove the potential for the Russian regime to celebrate, then Wimbledon’s ban had the opposite effect.
A Comeback to Remember
Justin Thomas, who entered the final round seven shots behind the leader, beat Will Zalatoris in a playoff to win his second career major championship. In a taut, three-hole aggregate playoff after the 18-hole fourth round ended in a tie, Justin Thomas, 29, held off the 25-year-old rising star Will Zalatoris to win his second PGA Championship. The last four winners of golf’s major championships, Thomas; Scottie Scheffler, at the Masters; Collin Morikawa, at the British Open; and Jon Rahm, the reigning U.S. Open champion, are in their 20s.
Thomas, who began the final round seven strokes off the lead, did not figure to be celebrating a victory after his first eight holes Sunday when he was one over par. His final-round rally tied for the third-largest comeback in major championship history. Pereira, the third-round leader, had appeared poised to become the first golfer from Chile to win a major golf championship. Stepping to the 18th tee Sunday evening, he was playing in the final group and needed only a par to clinch the title. But Pereira, playing in just his second major championship, sliced his tee shot into a small creek adjacent to the fairway. After a penalty shot drop from the water, Pereira’s approach shot found the thick rough alongside the green. His chip from there trundled far across the green until it stopped in the fringe on the opposite side of the green. Pereira made a double bogey, and finished in a tie for third place with the American Cameron Young.