Andrey Rublev leads Russian Wimbledon return with easy win

LONDON –Andrey Rublev became the first Russian through to the second round at Wimbledon as the seventh seed breezed past Australian Max Purcell 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 on Monday.

He is one of 17 Russian and Belarusian players in the men's and women's singles draws after they were banned in 2022 following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Wimbledon was the only one of the four Grand Slam tournaments to ban Russian and Belarusian players last year – a decision that resulted in ranking points being taken away from the event by both the ATP and WTA Tours.

As part of their return, players from two nations are playing as neutrals and must sign a “waiver” pledging not to support Russian President Vladimir 's regime.

Players are not allowed to receive state funding or have sponsorship from Russian or Belarusian companies.

Rublev, wrote “No War” on a camera lens at a shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, was given a warm welcome by the crowd on a breezy Court Three.

He looked comfortable on the grass as he proved a class above 64th-ranked Purcell to reach the second round.

“Very happy to be back here after two years,” Rublev said on court. “I'm happy to win my first match. To play in London it's a special feeling. To play at 11am and have a full stadium, it's doubly special.”

Rublev, who reached the fourth round in 2021, did trail 5-2 in the second set before clicking back into his aggressive baseline game and he never looked back.

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