Russia’s Andrey Rublev voiced his support for peace after reaching the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
The second seed took to Instagram prior to his match against American Mackenzie McDonald to post images of friendship with Ukraine following Russia’s wide-ranging attack on the country.
After recovering from a poor start to claim a 2-6 6-3 6-1 victory, Rublev said: “In these moments you realise that my match is not important. It’s not about my match, how it affects me. What’s happening is much more terrible.
“You realise how important it is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what, to be united. We should take care of our earth and of each other. This is the most important thing.”
Rublev shared similar thoughts at the weekend after teaming up with Ukrainian Denys Molchanov to win a doubles title in Marseille.
The 24-year-old, who is from Moscow, also spoke about the online abuse he receives because of his nationality.
He said: “Of course I get some bad comments on the Internet because I am Russian, so I get some aggressive comments. I cannot react on them because if I react on them, I’m going to show the same.
“If I want to have peace, I need to be like it doesn’t matter. Even if they throw rocks to me, I need to show I’m for the peace, I’m not here to be aggressive or something, even if I’m not responsible for something. I think this is the right way to do it, at least for me.”
Elina Svitolina, the most prominent Ukrainian tennis player, changed her Twitter profile picture to a hand in the colours of the country’s flag alongside the words ‘Pray for Ukraine’.
She also posted a message expressing her sadness at the situation, writing: “I can’t,” accompanied by crying and heartbroken emojis.