Tennis: Ukraine's New Zealand ambassador calls for Russian players to be banned from Australian Open

Ukraine's Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand has renewed calls for Russian tennis players to be banned from the Australian Open. 

He says Russia has killed almost 200 Ukrainian athletes during the war, so Russians shouldn't be allowed to play in Melbourne.

The comments come on the eve of Auckland's ASB classic, where Russia's Anna Blinkova will be taking to the court.

There were blasts, but not from not fireworks, that rang out over Kyiv on New Year's Eve. Moscow fired 20 cruise missiles, leaving 20 injured and at least one dead.

And it's the killing of Ukrainian citizens, specifically their athletes, that led the country's ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Vasyl Myroshnychenko to say: "Flags that Russians are using are all stained in blood. They killed 183 Ukrainian athletes."

Myroshnychenko wants Tennis Australia to overturn its decision to allow Russian players to take the court and instead ban them from competing until the war is over. 

"There must be an implication for what they've done, and what they keep on doing in Ukraine."

The ASB Classic starts on Monday, and there will be one Russian player taking the court. 

However, World No.80 Blinkova won't be playing under her flag, or her country. 

Tournament director Nicolas Lamperin has always maintained Russian athletes need to be allowed to play, and on Sunday wasn't drawn by the ambassador's remarks.

Regardless of their personal opinions, tournament directors the world over have their hands somewhat tied. 

The sport's governing bodies require organisers to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete. 

Last year, Wimbledon went ahead and banned the players anyway copping fines totalling $2.5 million from the WTA and ATP.

Despite the plea from Ukraine's ambassador, both the Australian Open and the ASB Classic are sticking to their original decisions.