'No war': Russian athletes Rublev, Ovechkin call for peace

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Russia's Andrey Rublev celebrates after defeating Poland's Hubert Hurkacz during a semifinal match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

DUBAI – Tennis player Andrey Rublev wrote “No War Please” on a TV camera moments after advancing to the final at the Dubai Championships on Friday, a sentiment echoed a few hours later by NHL star and fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin in the U.S.

The seventh-ranked Rublev had just beaten Poland's Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5) in their semifinal when he wrote his message on the camera, a common practice after matches.

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Russian troops bore down on Ukraine’s capital Friday in an invasion that has fueled fears of wider war in Europe and triggered worldwide efforts to make Russia stop. Rublev wasn't asked about the message during his on-court interview immediately following the match.

Ovechkin, one of the most prominent Russian athletes in the U.S., made a plea for peace while talking with reporters after practice in Philadelphia. The Moscow native said he has family and “lots of friends in Russia and Ukraine” and hopes the attack will end soon.

“Please, no more war,” Ovechkin said Friday. “It doesn’t matter who is in the war, Russia, Ukraine, different countries. I think we live in a world that we have to live in peace.”

Ovechkin has been a vocal supporter of Russia President Vladimir Putin. In 2017, Ovechkin launched the “Putin team” he said was not related to the election the following year but rather a show of support for his country. Asked Friday about his relationship with Putin, the NHL star said: “He’s my president, but I’m not in politics. I’m an athlete.”he

Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev spoke Thursday at the Mexico Open about waking up to news that his country had invaded Ukraine.

“Watching the news from home, waking up here in Mexico, was not easy,” said Medvedev, who will become the No. 1 men's player when rankings are announced next week.

“By being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world,” Medvedev continued. "We play in so many different countries. It’s just not easy to hear all this news. I’m all for peace.”

Rublev will face Czech qualifier Jiri Vesely for the first time in the Dubai final on Saturday.

Vesely, who knocked out Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals, followed with another top-20 win when he outlasted Denis Shapovalov 6-7 (7), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3) in more than three hours.

"I'm having a dream run here,” Vesely said.


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