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Ukrainian tennis player 'ready to swap a racket for a gun'

Sergiy Stakhovsky retired from professional tennis just a few weeks ago, and already he is ready to swap a racket for a gun.

He was on a family holiday when the Russian invasion happened, and once he gets his wife and children to safety in Hungary, he intends to get back to Kyiv to fight.

Stakhovsky, who reached a career singles high ranking of 31 in the world and won four ATP tour titles, said: “Of course I would fight, it’s the only reason I’m trying to get back.

“I signed up for the reserves last week. I don’t have military experience but I do have experience with a gun privately.

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“My dad and brother are surgeons, they are stressed out, but I speak to them frequently – they sleep in the basement”.

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Sergiy Stakhovsky said he signed up for the military reserves last week, despite having no prior military experience

In the course of the interview, the 36-year-old sportsman breaks down several times when he talks about his father and brother, who are both doctors in Kiev.

He urges people around Europe to protest against the Russian invasion wherever and however they can.

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“It makes the world of difference to our armed forces that they are not alone at least in a media environment, but let’s be realistic here, it’s been eight years of war with Russia, where was all of this for eight years?

“None of us believed that this could happen, and yet it happened.

“None of the European leaders or the world is ready to help, ready to put the fight in Ukraine maybe for a better Europe in the future, because once Ukraine is lost, we will resist.

“But let’s be realistic, Russia is a 140 million [population] country which spreads from Europe all the way back to Alaska, It’s going to be very hard to resist that much.”

Sporting sanctions have been coming thick and fast over the last 24 hours, with the removal of the Champions League Final from St Petersburg, Manchester United dropping Aeroflot as a £40m sponsor and Poland refusing to play Russia in their World Cup play-off.

However, Kyiv-born Stakhovsky wants sport to go even further because he believes it will hurt Vladimir Putin.

“He takes pride in sport, he takes pride in Russia.

“They’re always in the top three teams in the Olympics in winter or summer, and they spend billions of dollars on the sports industry.

“Of course it will hurt him. It will hurt his personality. It will hurt his imperial logic that he cannot show the world his great Russian nation.”

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