Adrian Mannarino bluntly shuts down criticism related to playing in Russian exho

Mannarino and Roberto Bautista Agut address the criticism related to them playing at the St. Petersburg exhibition in December.

by Dzevad Mesic
Adrian Mannarino bluntly shuts down criticism related to playing in Russian exho
© Getty Images Sport - Brendon Thorne

Spain´s Roberto Bautista Agut and Frenchman Adrian Mannarino don´t think they did anything wrong in going to Russia for an offseason exhibition event, stating that their visit wasn´t politically motivated by any means but it was done solely for tennis purposes. 

In late November, it was announced that several well-known ATP and WTA players would be competing at an exhibition event in St. Petersburg. The event, which took place in early December, was sponsored by oil giant Gazprom, which is owned by the Russian government. 

Some Ukrainian players took exception with ATP and WTA players accepting to play in a Russian exhibition event, with world No. 33 Lesia Tsurenko being the most outspoken. When attempting to persuade players to not play in the tournament, Tsurenko said they would "advertise a sponsor of terrorism" by playing at the St. Petersburg exhibition.

After beating Stan Wawrinka in a five-setter in the Australian Open first round, world No. 19 Mannarino said he "was not supporting anything" but just went to Russia because it was giving him a good chance to prepare well for the new season.

Adrian Mannarino
Adrian Mannarino© Getty Images Sport - Kelly Defina

Bautista Agut, Mannarino bluntly shut down criticism directed at them

"I’m a professional tennis player. I’m not into politics or anything. I just went there. I did my job. That’s what I did,” Mannarino said after his opening win in Melbourne, via British paper i.

“I’m not supporting anything. That was a private event. That was not anything about political support. There’s nothing to talk about.”

Bautista Agut, a former world No. 9 and a 2019 Wimbledon semifinalist, was sidelined for three months during the second part of 2023.

“I just wanted to keep playing as many matches as possible and that’s why I went there to play,” Bautista Agut said in Melbourne.

Roberto Bautista Agut
Roberto Bautista Agut© Getty Images Sport - Darrian Traynor

When the ATP and WTA were asked about the matter in late 2023, they said the players participating would not face any penalties because they were "independent contractors" and by rule free to pick spots for offseason matches. 

Adrian Mannarino Roberto Bautista Agut St. Petersburg