Calls For Players' Union Hampered By Opposition From Federer and Nadal, Says Pospisil - UBITENNIS
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Calls For Players’ Union Hampered By Opposition From Federer and Nadal, Says Pospisil

The Canadian tennis star has said the two tennis stars failed to back the initiative as he also criticised Nick Kyrgios over his recent comments concerning a potential merger in the sport.

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An initiative backed by Novak Djokovic failed to gain momentum after two of the biggest names of men’s tennis failed to get behind it, according to Vasek Pospisil.

The world No.93 said up to 80 players in the top 100 on the ATP Tour were in favor of a motion to form an independent union to support their rights. A topic that has been debated in the sport for many months with nothing coming to fruition as of yet. One of the main driving forces behind the calls is that player’s want a greater share of revenue generated from the four grand slam tournaments. Despite rises in prize money, the share still works out at roughly 10%.

Pospisil has been one of the biggest supporters of unionisation. Writing an article for The Globe and Mail last year, he argues that such a move would ‘restore fairness and transparency.’ In a recent interview with TSN, the Canadian said 12 out of the world’s top 20 backed the motion. Although two top names of the sport failed to get behind the proposal.

“Tennis is extremely International. So unionizing players is not that easy because you have all these conflicting labor laws from different countries. It’s a very tricky, difficult scenario. But when I got injured last year I tried to have a crack at it. We are definitely closer than ever. We are definitely more unified than ever before,” Pospisil said in an interview with TSN.
“Novak was sort of it from the get-go. At one point we were 80 of the top 100 male players signed onto the engagement letter, Novak being one of them. I had like 12 of the top 20, but when we went with Roger and Rafa they were not in favor.”
“Actually, they just wanted to go themselves and talk to the Grand Slams, which is something that went against the gist of what we were trying to do. It’s a shame, to be honest,” he added.

Both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal rejoined the ATP player’s council last August in a bid to reunite the men’s tour following various disagreements. Including the decision to move Chris Kermode last year which divided opinion. The council is headed by Djokovic with Pospisil also being a long-time member.

“I’ve had some great chats with Roger. I like him a lot, he is a great guy,” said Pospisil. “He was totally in support of the concept and agrees with a lot of the issues but ultimately didn’t get behind the actual movement which slowed it down a little bit for sure.’
“At the end of the day it’s the mass of players that is more powerful than a couple. You can’t just have two guys playing an exhibition every event. That’s not going to carry tennis very far.”

Despite his criticism, Pospisil has insisted that the Big Three ‘work really well’ on the council together. Although he admits that each of them have ‘very big personalities.’ He also hailed Djokovic for his leadership and commitment to the sport. The Serbian has been the president since 2016.

The Players’ council issue advisory decisions to the ATP board of directors and members are elected by their peers.

‘Kyrgios hasn’t got the information’

Elsewhere in his interview with TSN, Pospisil has also taken aim at Nick Kyrgios after the Australian recently voiced his opposition to the idea of the ATP and WTA Tour’s being merged. Support for a merger has surged in recent weeks following a tweet from Federer that backed the initiative. Andrea Gaudenzi, who is the chairman of the ATP, had already been in talks with the WTA about working closely together in the future.

“Did anyone ask the majority of the ATP what they think about merging with the WTA and how it is good for us?” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
“We shouldn’t merge.” He later added.

Questioned about Kyrgios’ view, Pospisil said the Australian was in no position to comment because he didn’t know the full facts of what was going on. Talks are ongoing behind closed doors and it is unclear as to if or when any collaboration may occur.

“You know what, it’s because a lot of players express, or people in general, will express an opinion without having any information, just because they feel like they want to say something,” he said.
“That might be the case with Nick.
“To be honest, he’s in no position to express an opinion when he just hears about this for the first time and has done zero due diligence.
“There are some guys like that and I’ll have no problem telling him that to his face.”

Earlier this week WTA boss Steve Simon told The New York Times that a merger would ‘make all the sense in the world.’ Although he rules out the concept of an acquisition taking place. Should such a move take place, it will likely take a considerable amount of time due to the complexity of the process.

At present there are seven governing bodies of tennis. Besides the men’s and women’s tours, there are also the ITF and a board for each of the four grand slams.

Pospisil’s full interview with TSN can be watched below

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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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