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



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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