EXCLUSIVE: Full Details Of Novak Djokovic’s Letter To Players As Stand Off With Federer And Nadal Emerges - Page 2 of 3 - UBITENNIS
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EXCLUSIVE: Full Details Of Novak Djokovic’s Letter To Players As Stand Off With Federer And Nadal Emerges

UbiTennis can reveal full details about what the world No.1 wrote to fellow players in a bid get them to join the newly created Professional Tennis Players Association.

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Djokovic’s letter in full

Dear Players and Colleagues, As you all know, I have been blessed in my tennis career. I have no interest other than the sustainability and future of tennis. Working with our colleague Vasek Pospisil and dozens of you over the past year, we tried hard to advance player interests both within the ATP structure and directly with the grand slams. To put it simply, even as the number one ranked player in the world, we have been rebuffed. We have had the door slammed on us. We have not been respected.

 

I have been part of “tennis politics” through player council for the last 10-15 years. I have seen 4-5 different presidents and many Board Reps , ATP management etc.. Please know that Players Association project is not a new project. It’s a “idea” that has been going around the tour for 30 years. Many players in different generations tried to set up Union/Association of Players that would allow Players to have better and stronger representation in the tennis ecosystem. So far no one managed to concretely set up this association. There are many reasons and factors why it didn’t happen until now but probably biggest reason is because players were not united. ATP structure that is flawed for players. I don’t think ATP structure and system is helping players. It has been proven many times in the past that this system is going against players. I am not blaming anyone individually. Various presidents and managements tried to do different things over the years. And of course some good things were done for our tour, without the doubt. But I think that most of you who have been on the tour for a while would agree that players are not regarded and treated as they should be in this system. Many times we are not even asked what we think and feel about certain situations. For example, last night ATP CEO decided in 5min that they will cancel competition play for today. No one has reached out to me or any other player who is still competing in the tournament. I find that very disrespectful and wrong. Of course, this is only one example. There are many. I have been part of the Council because this platform was ( is still ) the only platform through which we can fight for players rights.

But for those who know how structure works, you will know players council is NOT making any decisions. Our Board Representatives are the ones that make decisions and they are chosen by us but it has happened quite a few times in the last 10 years on some big decisions that they go against majority of players interest . And as you know, other 3 members of the Board are Tournaments. 95% of the times we have conflict of interest between players and tournaments. Because of ATP bylaws, for many decisions it is necessary to have “super majority” of votes on the Board, but often that doesn’t happen because players and tournaments don’t have common goals. So then, nothing happens because you don’t have super majority. And in certain voting circumstances where you don’t need super majority, President is usually the one that needs to break the even vote and make a call himself which side he supports. You can imagine how much politics is involved there.. I have seen it all. It’s not an easy position to be in as a President in a system that just doesn’t work!

That’s why we are fighting so much with Slams over Prize Money, Tv Rights, calendar arguments with 1000 Masters events, etc.

unfortunately, many of the top people of governing bodies on our sport are laughing at players because players are not united. We are not taken seriously.

these are all reasons why time is NOW to create Player Association.

This is absolutely NOT a message or sign of conflict towards ATP/ITF/Grand Slams. This is just us taking that big step and formalizing our Union/Association.. This is what lots of people who are not players in our sport don’t want to happen. They don’t want players united. They don’t want players to have their own structure and association.

But we need to and we deserve it!

So now, Vasek and I have retained one of the leading global law firms with offices in 52 cities around the world, Norton Rose Fulbright and its chairman Walied Soliman. Through Norton Rose we tried to engage with the grand slams and were completely and disrespectfully rebuffed. After consulting with many of you, Vasek and I are proposing the establishment of an Association for our tennis players. I want to be clear; this is perfectly legal in all jurisdictions, this does not impact your ATP membership or standing and we are not proposing any job action at this time. We are simply proposing an establishment of an Association that, with strength in numbers, will be able to speak to the ATP, the grand slams, and others about the interests of tennis professionals and the future of the sport.

Reasons why we decided to go ahead with Player Association is following ;

• We agreed to allow one year for Andrea to execute his mission. But as you know, we are experiencing many many changes from January 2020. Unfortunately, many players ( including myself ) are not pleased with the way ATP management was handling the circumstances in the last 5months. Several major decisions ( Ex. Points on Us Tour, restrictions, dealing with authorities, schedule, etc ) that were made even without full support of council. I am / we are aware it’s a tough time for anybody right now to make decisions on anything. It’s the process of lack of communication with players in big decisions and exclusion of players that is bothering me/us.

• Players Association is not a new thing. It has been in the “air” since many years. You both know very well that GS, ITF, Tournament owners have been literally laughing at us in the previous decades because we are not united. We players think we have some power ( excluding top guys in some specific situations ) but we actually don’t have executive power. Players who are in the Council are “shareholders” of ATP and technically have affect on what is being decided. But many times that’s actually not true. And you guys know that very well. Many times because of the ATP structure ( 50-50 players/tournaments) there is a conflict of interest and decisions can’t be made. Because by laws of ATP allow only in certain decisions for President to decide ( that has proven to be more on tournament side in the past unfortunately/not Andrea now ) or it has to be super majority of votes on Board ( 6 votes ) which in most cases is not happening.

• Player Association is not being formed because of a need for conflict but because of a need for stronger player representation. Many players in many generations in the last 30 years have talked about Player ONLY association but nothing concrete came out of it because there was not enough unity. Right now time is ripe and there is a super majority of players in top 500 singles and top 100 doubles that want this Association to happen. Obviously with or without top guys it’s a big difference.. We are hoping we can get you all to be supportive of this long waited player association..

Player association will have its initial trustees. Association will most likely ( at the beginning ) not have executive decision making position in the eco system of tennis but that will also gradually change. We need to start from somewhere. We need to show our unity and strength. Not because we want to fight but because we want to be consulted, valued , respected on all big decisions that are happening in our sport and so far that has not been the case. We all know how many Agents, Federation people, business people have been on the Board and/ or another influential positions in sport have been there for decades working on their own interest, not caring too much about players. It’s a monopoly and that why in order to change something in favor of players we need to show unity ..

My friends, I have nothing to gain from this other than advancing the interests of the players and our sport. I hope you understand and all want you to join us on this historic journey.

Thank you

Novak P.S.

Of course, Vasek and I will step down from the Player Council as soon as we have officially created the Player Association

Next page – statement from Federer, Nadal and others.

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Andy Murray Skips French Open To Focus On The Grass

The decision has been made after the Brit experienced some ‘discomfort’ during his time in Rome.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has delayed his return to competitive tennis after deciding to not play any more tournaments on the clay this year.

 

The former world No.1 has confirmed that he will not be playing at the French Open, according to multiple British media sources. Murray’s decision comes less than a week after he was in Rome training with some of the Tour’s top players. During one of his practice sessions in the Italian capital, he had a hit with world No.1 Novak Djokovic who said afterwards he was impressed by the current form of the Brit.

“I was very happy to see him. I haven’t seen him in a while, and it was great to hit with him. I thought he played very well on the court,” Djokovic told reporters last week.
“He moves well considering it’s clay which is not the best surface for his hips. But considering what he has been through lately, I think it seems like he’s been feeling well on the court. That’s what he’s saying, and that’s what it appears on the court itself.”

It is understood that Murray experienced some discomfort in Rome where he participated in the doubles tournament with Liam Broady after receiving a last-minute entry. It is unclear as to where the pain is located and how serious it is. Although it has been deemed significant enough for him to decline a wildcard into next week’s Geneva Open and pass on the French Open where he would have possibly had to play in the qualifying draw.

Murray will now switch his focus to the grass ahead of Wimbledon. He is currently scheduled to next play at The Queen’s Club where he has a contract to play there for the rest of his career. The tournament will start on June 14th with Murray saying he is looking forward to playing in front of a British crowd again. Under current restrictions, Queen’s will welcome 25% of its 9000-spectator capacity.

“It’s been such a difficult time for everyone and it will be great to play in front of home fans in Britain again,” said five-time champion Murray. “The tournament at Queen’s has always meant a lot to me – it’s where I won my first ATP match, I’ve won the singles at Queen’s more than any other in my career, and I’ll never forget our doubles title in 2019. I can’t wait to get back out there.”

34-year-old Murray has played just 11 Tour matches since winning the European Open in Antwerp back in 2019. He is currently ranked 123rd in the world.

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Novak Djokovic Outlasts Tsitsipas To Reach Rome Semis

Novak Djokovic survived a brutal test from Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach the semi-finals in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic survived Stefanos Tsitsipas over two days as a 4-6 7-5 7-5 win ensured his place in the last four of Rome.

 

The world number one came back from a set and a break down to ensure his place in the semi-finals in Rome.

It’s the second time in the space of a few weeks that Tsitsipas has lost to Djokovic and Nadal in three hour epic matches.

Next for Djokovic will be Lorenzo Sonego who beat Andrey Rublev 3-6 6-4 6-3 in his delayed quarter-final.

It was a bright start from Tsitsipas who was aggressive from the first ball and took the match to the world number one.

An early break helped settle the Greek down who was producing tennis of the highest from the baseline and at the net as he rushed Djokovic into errors.

That became a double break as the Serb was distracted by the rainy conditions as he couldn’t hit through Tsitsipas’s consistent defence.

After breaking back and consolidating after some nice combinational patterns of play, rain halted play for a few hours.

Once they came back it was Tsitsipas who continued to dictate the points to his favour and with accurate serving was able to close out the first set in in 51 minutes.

The start of the second set was no different, after both players held serve to love Tsitsipas grinded out a crucial break taking advantage of a lack of concentration from Djokovic.

However once again rain halted play and Djokovic had a whole night to figure out how to turn the match around as play was abandoned for the day.

As play resumed the next morning, Tsitsipas continued where he left off from yesterday as he was the aggressor dictating points and putting Djokovic under pressure.

That was until the eighth game as Djokovic raised his level and managed to make a lot of deep returns to cause Tsitsipas trouble.

Tsitsipas managed to save four break points with some clutch tactical serving and bold high-margin play.

On the fifth break point Djokovic finally punched a hole through Tsitsipas’ defence to level the set at 4-4 as he let out a huge roar.

The Greek remained valiant and produced a higher level of base play throughout the rest of the set as he earned two opportunities to break back.

However this time it was Djokovic’s turn to produce clutch serves and unlike Tsitsipas, the Serb held for 5-4.

Big moments were meant for big players and you can always rely on the world number one to produce those. A big final return game from Djokovic sealed with clever tactical played allowed him to break and let out another huge roar as he levelled this match at one set all.

In the final set, there was ball-striking of the highest quality as both players looked to out manoeuvre and out-hit each other.

The first break of the set went to Tsitsipas as Djokovic’s shot failed to reach the other side of the net as the Serb smashed his racket into the side barrier of the court.

After holding for a 3-1 lead, Tsitsipas looked to finish the match out as he had four opportunities for a double break lead.

A combination of erratic decisions and clutch serving from the world number one saw them saved as the Serb would hold on.

In typical Djokovic fashion he would break in the next game comfortably as this was turning out to be one of the best final sets of the season.

Tsitsipas would have the chance to close out the match after breaking for a 5-4 lead but the Serb’s court coverage was too good and he continued to hit insane returns for 5-5.

After 3 hours and 15 minutes of play over two days, Djokovic produced a near-perfect final game to deny Tsitsipas the win as he made his way into the semi-finals.

Next for the world number one will be Lorenzo Sonego on Saturday evening for a place in the final.

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French Open Chief: Roger Federer Would have Won Multiple French Open Titles If It Wasn’t For Nadal

Guy Forget also predicts how far the 39-year-old could go in the draw this year.

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The decision by Roger Federer to play at the French Open is the most logical step ahead of Wimbledon, according to tournament director Guy Forget.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match on the surface since June 2019. Last year he missed most the season due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. So far this year he has only played in one tournament which was at the Qatar Open where he reached the semi-finals.

Federer will return to the court next week at the Geneva Open in his native Switzerland. It is the only event he will play before heading to Roland Garros. An event he had only played in once out of the past five editions. Forget, who is a former top 10 player himself, believes the match play is exactly what Federer needs.

“That Roger comes to play Roland Garros seems logical to me. This will allow him to play, and especially to test himself. Clay is a surface that requires you to be precise in your movements. The better Federer is at Roland Garros, the better he will be at Wimbledon,” he told reporters earlier this week.

The Swiss Maestro has only won the French Open once in his career which was back in 2009. Although he has reached the final on four other occasions. It was at the 1999 French Open where he made his main draw debut in a major at the age of 17. Overall, 11 out of Federer’s 103 ATP titles have been won on the clay.

However, Forget believes Federer would have won many more French Open titles if it wasn’t for the formidable Rafael Nadal. A player who has won more ATP trophies on the dirt than any other player in history, including 13 at the French Open alone.

“If Rafael Nadal hadn’t existed Federer would have had at least 5 or 6 titles at Roland, I’m sure of that.” Forget commented.
“Regarding this edition, I think it can happen that he could go into the second week.” He added.

Federer has lost to Nadal in all six of their meetings at the French Open – four times in the final and twice in the semi-finals. He trails their overall head-to-head 16-24.

The French Open will get underway on May 30th.

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