‘No war’: Russian athletes Rublev and Ovechkin call for peace

Andrey Rublev of Russia celebrates after beating Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in a semi-final match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Andrey Rublev of Russia celebrates after beating Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in a semi-final match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

PA

Tennis player Andrey Rublev wrote ‘No War Please’ on a TV camera moments after reaching the Dubai Championships final on Friday, a sentiment echoed hours later by the NHL star and fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin in the USA.

Rublev, seventh in the standings, had just beaten Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(5) in the semi-finals when he wrote his message on camera, a common practice after matches.

Russian troops stormed the Ukrainian capital on Friday in an invasion that stoked fears of a wider war in Europe and sparked global efforts to shut down Russia. Rublev was not asked about the message during his on-pitch interview immediately after the match.

Ovechkin, one of Russia’s most prominent athletes in the United States, appealed for peace while chatting with reporters after training in Philadelphia. The Moscow native said he has family and “lots of friends in Russia and Ukraine” and hopes the attack will end soon.

“Please no more war,” Ovechkin said on Friday. “It doesn’t matter who is in the war, Russia, Ukraine, different countries. I think we live in a world where we should live in peace.

Ovechkin has been a strong supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2017, Ovechkin launched “Team Putin”, which he said was not linked to the following year’s elections, but rather a show of support for his country. Asked about his relationship with Putin on Friday, the NHL star said, “He’s my president, but I’m not in politics. I am an athlete.

Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev spoke at the Mexican Open on Thursday about waking up to the news that his country had invaded Ukraine.

“Watching the news from back home, waking up here in Mexico, hasn’t been easy,” said Medvedev, who will become the No. 1 men’s player when the rankings are announced next week.

“Being a tennis player, I want to promote peace around the world,” Medvedev continued. “We play in so many different countries. It’s just not easy to hear all this news. I’m for peace.”

Rublev will face Czech qualifier Jiri Vesely for the first time in the Dubai final on Saturday.

Vesely, who knocked out Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, followed it up with another top-20 win when he outlasted Denis Shapovalov 6-7(7), 7-6(2), 7-6(3) over three hours.

“I’m having a dream race here,” Vesely said.

___

More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Naomi C. Amerson