Ukraine’s tennis star Sergiy Stakhovsky has returned home and enlisted in the military reserves to help his nation’s defence against the Russian invasion.
However, the 36-year-old is hoping that he won’t have to use the gun he has been given.
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“I know how to use the gun,” he told the BBC. “I pretty much hope that I will not have to use the gun, but if I have to, I’ll have to.”
The Australian Open was his last tennis tournament. After 19 years on tour, Stakhovsky was enjoying retired life with his family in Hungary when Russia invaded Ukraine.
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He returned to Kiev to enlist in the army.
On Tuesday, tennis’ governing bodies — the ATP, WTA and ITF– had levied heavy sanctions on Russia and Belarus.
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While the two countries have been banned from all team competitions, their players will be allowed to compete but as neutrals.
“The support and even the restrictions and sanctions of the Russian federation in terms of sport, culture, is great, it’s working,” Stakhovsky said.
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“I’m very sure it’s working. But it doesn’t stop him (Vladimir Putin) from what he’s doing and somebody needs to put a stop to him.”
Stakhosky’s biggest claim to fame was defeating Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013.
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The Ukranian, however, revealed that he hadn’t received much support from either Federer or Rafael Nadal when he tried to get in touch with them recently.
“(Novak) Djokovic sent me a message of support and we even had a little chat,” he added.
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“I also tried to contact Federer and Nadal but without success. I am sorry that you prefer to remain silent, although I understand them. It’s not their war. We have great personalities, I hope the support will last.”