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Dzalamidze says Georgia switch was for Olympics, Wimbledon just a bonus

Natela Dzalamidze of George serves during the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 19, 2022 in Melbourne
Natela Dzalamidze of George serves during the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 19, 2022 in Melbourne
Image: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Russian-born tennis player Natela Dzalamidze said her decision to change nationality to Georgian was motivated by her desire to play at the Olympics and that being able to compete at Wimbledon was a bonus.

In April, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing at Wimbledon due to the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

Belarus has been a key staging area for the invasion.

Dzalamidze's nationality is Georgian in Wimbledon's entry list, allowing her to partner Serbian Aleksandra Krunic in the women's doubles at the Grand Slam.

The WTA Tour said in a statement Dzalamidze had complied with the regulations for changing nationality.

“In Natela’s case, she submitted a Georgian passport and ID as she has dual citizenship, and, as a result, her nationality has been officially changed within the WTA system,” it said.

“This took place before the finalisation and release of the Wimbledon entry lists.”

Dzalamidze, whose father is Georgian, said the depth of Russian tennis and the country's suspension from the Billie Jean King Cup, which players have to compete in to fulfil ITF participation requirements for the Olympics, led to the switch.

“My decision was made because I am focusing on my career and would like to have the chance to compete at the Olympic Games,” the 29-year-old told  the Times.

“The first discussion I had with the WTA was during Indian Wells at the beginning of March.

“If I made the decision to play for Georgia and have a chance to play Wimbledon, why not? At the moment I have my best ranking and my perspective is now much better in Georgia.”

Wimbledon, which begins on June 27, has been stripped of its ranking points by the ATP and WTA Tours over its decision to exclude players from Russia and Belarus.

• Andy Murray said he remains on course to play at Wimbledon even though he is still being hampered by an abdominal injury which has left him unable to practice fully.

The 35-year-old Briton, who won the grass court Grand Slam in 2013 and 2016, sustained the injury during his Stuttgart Open final loss to Matteo Berrettini on June 12.

The former world number one withdrew from last week's Queen's Club Championships and is racing to be fit for Wimbledon.

“The plan is still to play. The injury is improving. I've had it rescanned and it's progressing in the right way,” Murray told British media on Monday.

“But you can probably work out from the nature of the injury which shots it is that I've been struggling with and haven't been able to practise.

“In the next few days I'll start to increase that and test it out. Hopefully it's recovered sufficiently.”

Murray, who is now ranked 51st in the world, looked in good form during the grass court swing, reaching the Surbiton Challenger semifinals before the final at Stuttgart.

“It's frustrating but I played nine matches in two weeks, which I haven't done since 2016,” added Murray, who has endured lengthy injury layoffs in recent years due to hip surgeries.

“My game was obviously in a good place physically.

“It's frustrating to be in this position in the build-up to Wimbledon, but the positive for me is I've dealt with certainly worse issues in the last few years and handled them OK.” — Reuters

 

 

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