Former Ukrainian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky unloaded on Rafael Nadal after the Spaniard mentioned the decision to prohibit Russian and Belarus players from Wimbledon “very unfair”.
The decision was recently made by All England Lawn Tennis Club officials following Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
A number of high-profile stars have since spoken out against the call – Nadal being one of them.
“I think it’s very unfair to my Russian tennis friend, my colleagues,” Rafael Nadal said at Madrid Open.
“It’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war. I’m sorry for them.
“Wimbledon just took their decision… the government didn’t force them to do it.
“Let’s see what happens in the next weeks, if the players will take some kind of decision in that regard.”
Other professional players have also condemned the decision, including the likes of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
But it seems Nadal’s comments in particular haven’t sat well with Stakhovsky, who has been defending his country on the frontline ever since the invasion began back in February.
“Rafael Nadal, we competed together. We’ve played each other on Tour. Please tell me how it is fair that Ukrainian players cannot return home?” Stakhovsky tweeted.
“How it is fair that Ukrainian kids cannot play tennis? How is it fair that Ukrainians are dying?”
Stakhovsky added: “If anyone could please find a quote where Russian or Belarus players condemn the invasion in Ukraine?
“And don’t tag the “no war” or “stop war” because these statements sound like if the Ukrainians stopped fighting the war would stop.”
36-year-old Stakhovsky, who famously beat Roger Federer back at Wimbledon in 2013, has been vocal on social media in his opposition of the Russian invasion.
He recently re-shared a clip of Dmitry Kiselyov making an open nuclear threat to the UK live on Russian State TV.
Stakhovsky commented: “Surely the ban of Russians is ‘unnecessary’.
“After all Russia is a peaceful country which slaughters civilians left and right, threatens the world with nuclear strikes. But no Russians are not at fault… they cannot be blamed… it’s only Putin. NONfSENSE.”