Djokovic Campaigns For A New Players Union - UBITENNIS
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Djokovic Campaigns For A New Players Union

A surprise meeting led by the six-times Australian Open champion revealed a possible uprising by lower-ranked players asking for higher prize money in tennis

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It is a first day of Grand Slam in Melbourne, some big upsets were going on, but the biggest interest was created off the court. Novak Djokovic held a meeting behind close doors that provoked a lot of interest because it was not meant for all eyes.

Immediately after, lot of headlines similar to this “Djokovic is asking more money from Australian Open” covered media reports from Melbourne, but the main question remained. What does Djokovic really want?

Only players were invited to the meeting and not all of them were in the mood to discover what it was that all about.

But some people from tennis circles, very familiar with Novak ideas, offered explanations:

Djokovic, as president of ATP Players Council, has a responsibility and obligation to help all the players on the ATP tour, especially lower ranked players who face many challenges. His duty is to contribute in a positive way to improvements and changes that would improve tennis, from a scheduling to finance. The main objective is making tennis as viable a sport for as many players as possible,” said one of them.

This was one of the reasons for the meeting to be held in Melbourne, where Novak, on behalf of the Council, talked about a way to help lower ranked players and about on ways how to improve the whole system.

Only top players have good conditions, but the rest of them are not satisfied. It is something everyone is aware of. As a president, Novak has suggested a way to improve and solve the situation. One aspect is the need for all the players to form the union and pay more attention to their rights”, our source said.

With this move, Novak took some risks, but all lower ranked players are grateful because this has been a long fight for them.

The top 20 players have all they need, but those ranked below the 50th position do struggle a lot. Most of them are on a verge of quitting the sport and giving up their careers because of the lack of money to spend on traveling, coaches, staff and other expenses. Revenue sin tennis are not divided properly: top 10 players get the most of it, and that is what Novak wants to change for the better. He wants to create a chance for as many players as possible to do something great in this sport”.

Djokovic has been voted as President of Players Council and players have put their trust in him hoping that he will fight for better conditions for them.

“So many players have been injured, the game is super hard on bodies, minds etc. Creating a players’ union is not easy, it takes years and Novak will most likely not even feel the benefits of it by the time it is created but he wants to make sure it happens for the future of the sport. So that many people who love playing tennis also chose to play it professionally and commit to it but not at the expense of their health. A tennis career can be long with proper planning and with taking players interest in mind… at the moment there is no such union and that’s why there are a lot of problems in the sport”.

Top players get the best out of it so clearly Novak does not need to invest time, money and energy into this for his own benefit. Djokovic is ok with the current situation as he is one of the best players of his time, so he does not need more money or attention. He is really doing this because of his love for the sport.

Scheduling favors tournaments and sponsors, players are treated as gladiators. This concerns not only the ATP level tournaments but also challenges, futures...”

Our source explained what is the reason, that some players are staying out of this and do not want to get into it:

– it is a lengthy process (different countries, different laws; different bodies and different rules – ATP, ITF)

– they do not see a direct benefit during their career (especially older players and higher ranked players)

– it is expensive: lots of hours of research cost, lots of different administrative fees, lawyers, people who will run the union need to be hired and paid

– lots of lobbying…

Novak presented the players the idea behind and what needs to be done. Djokovic even brought a Law professor to explain to them that this is a huge thing and that they all need to unite to make it happen and that it will be big not just for tennis but for all individual sports…”

Djokovic also said: “Look, I don’t need this. I have lots on my plate anyway. I am willing to do this if we are all in. If not, I did my part and presented you the idea. You choose”.

Lower-ranked players are excited (money might be the issue for some of them as they all have to finance this union), higher ranked players are pointing out how Novak is very gutsy at doing this as he is risking a lot and getting very little in return. This is the fight for future. For all players. Mostly lower ranked ones.”

 

Vojin Velickovic

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Jelena Ostapenko beats Greer Minnen to reach the second round at Eastbourne

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Number 6 seed Jelena Ostapenko beat Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 after 1 hour and 29 minutes to secure a spot in the second round at the Rothesay international in Eastbourne. 

Ostapenko won the Eastbourne title in 2021 and reached the 2022 final before losing to Petra Kvitova. 

Minnen led by a break three times and served for the set at 5-4 and 6-5 but Ostapenko pulled back on serve each time. 

Ostapenko fired a backhand crosscourt winner to earn three set points at 6-3 in the tie-break. The Latvian player converted his first chance with a forehand return winner. 

Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the second set. Ostapenko earned a second break in the third game, but she took an off court medical time-out after a fall at 3-1 in the second set. 

Ostapenko recovered by winning four consecutive games with two breaks to win the second set 6-1. 

“Grass is a great surface, but sometimes it can be slippery and really tricky. So I took the medical time-out just to make sure I am fine”, said Ostapenko.  

 “I think the surface suits me really well. The first I played on grass, I was like: ‘How can we play tennis on this surface ? I don’t understand what’s happening here, but then every year was better and better”, said Ostapenko. 

British wild card Harriet Dart battled past former Wimbledon quarter finalist Marie Bouzhkova 7-5 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 after 3 hours and 29 minutes in the third-longest match on the WTA Tour this year. 

Bouzhkova broke twice in the third and fifth games to open up a 4-1 lead, but Dart won six of the next seven games with three breaks of serve to win the first set 7-5. 

Dart fought back from 1-4 down to force a tie-break with two breaks of serve in the sixth and eighth games. The British player never held a match point in the second set. Bouzhkova converted her fourth set point to seal the tie-break 9-7 after a 88-minute second set. 

After a trade of breaks at the start of the third set, Dart earned a decisive break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. The British wild card saved a break point at 4-3 en route to the win. 

Dart was scheduled to face 2022 Wimbeldon champion Elena Rybakina, but the Kazakh player withdrew from the tournament on Monday due to a change of schedule. Dart will face wild card Sofia Kenin, who won the Australian Open title and reached the final at Roland Garros in 2020.  

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(VIDEO) What A Weekend For Italian Tennis!

Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta looks back on this week’s action on the ATP Tour.

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Jannik Sinner – ATP Halle 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

It has been a memorable Sunday for Italian tennis with the country winning two titles on the ATP Tour. 

In Halle, world No.1 Jannik Sinner claimed his first trophy on the grass with a hard-fought two-set win over Hubert Hurkacz. There was also success in the doubles tournament with top seeds Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori winning the title. Meanwhile, in London, Lorenzo Musetti was unable to make it a hatrick of wins for his country after losing in the final of the Cinch Championships to Tommy Paul.  

So how much can be read into these wins and should we be expecting similar results at Wimbledon which begins a week tomorrow? 

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Jannik Sinner reaches the first grass final of his career in Halle

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Jannik Sinner overcame Zhang Zhizhen 6-4 7-6 (7-3) to reach the first final of his career on grass at the Terra Wortmann in Halle. Sinner achieved his best result on this surface when he reached the semifinal at Wimbledon in 2023. 

Sinner will face a final against his friend Hubert Hurkacz, who beat Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 in the first semifinal. The Italian player converted his only break point in the ninth game and fended off the only break point he faced at 5-6 in the second set with a forehand winner, one of his winners of the match. 

The Italian player earned an early mini-break to take a 2-0 lead. Zhang Zhizhen pulled the mini-break back. Sinner earned two mini-breaks in the fourth and eighth points to win the tie-break 7-3. Sinner won the first of the four tie-breaks he played this week.

Sinner finished the match in straight sets after clinching three consecutive three-set wins at the start of his campaign at this year’s edition of the Terra Wortmann in Halle. 

The world number 1 player won three titles on hard court at the Australian Open, Rotterdam and Miami this year. 

“It means a lot. I had four tough matches to go to the final. It was a good match today. Definitely more rallies than yesterday. And that’s definitely what I needed today. I am happy and let’s see what’s coming tomorrow”, said Sinner.  

Earlier this week Zhang Zhizhen had previously beaten Danil Medvedev in the second round and came back from 2-5 down to beat Christopher Eubanks in the quarter finals. 

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