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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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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