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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Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83

Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.

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Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.

 

Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.

Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.

After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.

Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.

The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Hails Laver Cup Participation Days After Jibe From Nick Kyrgios

The Greek tennis sensation said he was left feeling ‘emotional’ when selected to play in the three-day event last year.

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Reigning ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas has labelled the Laver Cup as his favourite tournament due to the ‘magical’ feeling of playing alongside some of the sports greatest ever players.

 

The 21-year-old has praised the team competition less than a week after he and his European team mates was criticised by Nick Kyrgios. Who has played in all three editions of the event since its birth that sees Europe take on the rest of the world over three days. During an Instagram Live chat with Andy Murray, a slightly intoxicated Kyrgios said his rivals had ‘no banter’ before going on to take a swipe at the friendship between Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

“I am there with my best buds, trying to beat some European guys who have no banter, don’t give one-eff about each other and act like they care for one week which p*sses me off,” the Australian ranted.
“Let’s be honest, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas and (Alexander) Zverev hate each other, then they are besties all of a sudden…p*ss off.”

Tsitsipas, who has lost both of his matches against Kyrgios on the ATP Tour, didn’t directly address his rivals comment during a recent interview with Eurosport. However, he did speak about his enthusiasm for the event which has been scrapped from this year’s calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tsitsipas made his Laver Cup debut last year in Geneva, where he won two out of three matches played. He played in two doubles matches alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

“My favourite tournament is the Laver Cup. I love the vibes at the Laver Cup, we were all so connected, we came into the tournament as a union, trying to represent our continent and it just felt magical to be on the same team as Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal],” he told Eurosport’s Hanging out with Babsi.
“I got to play doubles with both of them and it was a great experience for me. It was a dream come true for sure. As a child, I would never have dreamed the Laver Cup would ever happen – a competition between Europe and the Rest of the World – I would never think that would be possible but it happened and I got to be part of it. I got invited which was such an honour.”

Elaborating further the world No.6 said he felt ‘emotional’ when he was selected to play. Team Europe won the 2019 event for the third year in a row with a score of 13-11.

“Playing for your country is one thing, but playing for Team Europe – if you just sit down and think about it – you are among the best European tennis players. You get to be chosen as one of the top tennis players to play for your continent. That makes you feel very emotional.” He added.

After being postponed this year, The Laver Cup is set to return in 2020 in the American city of Boston.

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‘Money Talks’ – John Millman Issues Stark Warning Over Resumption Of Tour

The world No.43 has said the coming weeks will show if tennis bosses are willing to put money ahead of health.

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Australian tennis star John Millman has said the decision to start professional tennis at some stage will be an indicator as to if tennis’ governing bodies are willing to put money ahead of players’ health.

 

The WTA, ATP and ITF Tour’s have all been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic with officials hoping they will be able to resume the sport during August in North America. Meanwhile, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) are still hoping to stage the US Open later this year with a final decision expected to be made during June.

However world No.43 Millman believes the idea of starting the sport again in August is too soon given the global reach of tennis which requires players from all over the world to gather in one place. It is also unclear how the various travel restrictions would impact the Tour. Despite his concerns, Millman fears that money will be the decisive factor.

“I feel as if it is probably way too early to get back into it or even thinking about returning in August,” he told the AAP.
“Indian Wells, the last tournament we were meant to play, was cancelled because there was one case in the region. It is a bit of a contradiction if they say come August ‘there are cases around but you guys can travel and play some tennis’.
“But money talks at times and our hand could be forced, unfortunately.
“What is more important – money or the health of not just yourself but the community?” he added. “We will see what is tennis’s priority.”

Despite his own reservations, the former grand slam quarter-finalist feels that his fellow competitors may have no choice about returning should the Tour get a green light. Unlike team sports with contracts, tennis players are essentially self-employed. Therefore the majority of them, especially those outside the top 100, solely earn money from prize money generated from tennis tournaments.

“Unfortunately, when the tour says we are back playing your hand is forced a bit because it is your career at stake.

As to when the 30-year-old would be happy to return to the Tour himself, he said that he will need to be certain that it is safe to do so first. America, which is where tennis officials are hoping to start the sport, has more infections of COVID-19 than any other country in the world. An estimated 1.5 million Americans have tested positive for the virus which has resulted in 91,000 deaths.

“Players would have to be coming from places where the virus isn’t there any more and going to tournaments where the virus isn’t there any more,” he said. “For that to happen on a global stage, I think we are a fair way off that.”

Millman has reached two ATP Finals so far in his career and earned more than $3.6 million in prize money.

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