Rublev’s mum claims ‘hero’ son was provoked after anti-war messages

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Andrey Rublev’s mum has spoken out as she claimed her son was “provoked” by the media at times this year following his decision to share anti-war messages in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Marina Marenko branded the world No 8 a “hero” as she discussed his choice to speak out against his own country without fear.

Rublev cemented himself as one of the most vocal Russian tennis players this year in wake of the war in Ukraine. When his home nation first invaded Ukraine in February, he wrote “no war please” on the camera lens at the Dubai Championships and has continued to speak out against the conflict ever since.

The 25-year-old ended his season by making the semi-final of the ATP Finals for the first time in three attempts and once again called for peace during his victory over fellow Russian Daniil Medvedev in the round-robin stage. His mum has now spoken out on her son’s decision to condemn the war as she claimed the 12-time title winner had been “provoked” by the media at times.

“The year for Andrey was very difficult – there was a lot of pressure from the public, the media and journalists,” Marenko – a tennis coach at the Spartak Tennis Club – told Sport24. Addressing the war, she added: “If this whole situation did not exist, then, of course, the results would be more successful.

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“Post-match press conferences were given to Andrey hard. The journalists tried in every possible way to provoke, and this put pressure on the still fragile psyche of my son.” Despite claiming it had been tough for Rublev to deal with, the world No 8’s mother admitted she was proud of his decision to speak out.

“Political events made themselves felt during the tournaments,” she continued. “Andrey was ready for anything, but not for this. I had to act on the go in order to somehow remain psychologically stable. Andrey is a real hero, I am very proud of him. He accepted all external and internal problems courageously.”

Marenko also praised Rublev for carrying the same mentality into his matches, continuing: “Absolutely without fear approached matches with opponents of different sizes. Yes, at some points it was very difficult, but he was able to overcome difficulties. During the season, I didn’t lose a single simple match, all the matches were very close. I am very happy with the season. Andrey will only get stronger.”

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And she also had her say on the current sanctions on Russian tennis players, who have been playing as neutrals without any mention of their country or flag since March in what was a joint response to the war in Ukraine from the ATP, WTA, ITF and four Grand Slams. “We all really hope for the best. Every person believes in a good outcome,” she said.

The Russian Tennis Federation is also banned from competing at team events, which left the nation’s players unable to defend their titles at the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup, having won both the men’s and women’s World Cup of tennis in 2021. “We believe and know that soon we will be able to perform under our flag, anthem and with our fans. These difficulties will help us appreciate what we have more in the future,” Marenko said.

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