Reilly Opelka has jumped to the defence of Novak Djokovic over his decision to co-found the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) earlier this year.
The world No.39 says the 17-time Grand Slam champion has been given negative press based on incorrect information concerning the PTPA. The individual union was created to campaign for players to have a greater say in the decision making process. Although there is a division in the sport over the move with members of the ATP Players Council urging their peers not to join. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who are both members of the council, have called for a more united front.
23-year-old Opelka is one of a group of players who have already joined the organisation which was co-founded by Djokovic and Canada’s Vasek Pospisil. It was officially launched during the lead up to this year’s US Open.
“I think it’s a great move. I think that it was just frustrating for me to see a guy like Novak, that gets the negative press on things that aren’t true, right?” the 23-year-old told Racquet Mag.
“He’s a really, really friendly guy. At the US Open, he’s at the point now, every time he’s entering a Slam, he’s going for history, as the greatest of all time. And he doesn’t need to take the time to come up to me after a match, and just talk, and ask how my knee’s doing. It’s not common. It’s not like we grew up together—we’re in different generations.’
“He’s very, very aware of the younger generations. He’s very aware of a lot of the women’s players. He loves tennis. He cares about the sport.”
At present it appears that the PTPA is struggling to reach common ground with the ATP despite Djokovic previously saying he believes the two can co-exist. During the ATP Finals in November the Serbian said he was barred from elections for the council due to a new rule change which prohibits somebody to join if they are a member of another organisation.
“This rule is a strong message from the ATP that they don’t want the PTPA at all or any player involved. It’s very clear.” He said.
“It’s unfortunate to see the ATP position is such as the rule they have voted on.‘
“Now we know where we stand and now we have to consider other strategic positions, and our next move in a different way.”
Jurgen Melzer, who is a current member on the ATP council, has hit back at those comments by describing them as ‘utter nonsense.’ He argues that statues surrounding eligibility have been in existence since 2006 and it was only logical that players can’t be part of two organisations. Although it is believed that by-laws have recently been adjusted.
Opelka hopes the PTPA will help address the issue of gambling in tennis after revealing that he has received numerous death threats from online bettors. He would like to see a push for gambling to become regulated which will lead to an increase in money being invested into tennis. In recent years Tennis’ governing bodies have clamped down on the issue following an extensive independent investigation into match-fixing.
“If you regulate the gambling—which is going to happen no matter what—and they make a lot of money. I know, because every time I lose, I get all these death threats. And tennis is a very bet-upon sport and it goes on all year,” he said.
“Gambling companies, I’m sure they want write-offs, and want to throw money into it. At the Challenger level—I think every single one should be played for $30,000. And you have guys from 75 to 200 playing for 30 grand at the Challenger level each week, expenses covered, that would be great. I think they’d be really happy about that.”
The PTPA is yet to publicly comment on this issue. They currently only have male backers but it is believed that they will open up to female members at some stage in the new year.
French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur
The Australian explains why he wasn’t entirely happy with the atmosphere in the French capital.
Alex de Minaur didn’t hide his irritation with fans at Roland Garros following his shock exit from the tournament on Tuesday.
The 19th seed fell to home player Hugo Gaston in a five-set epic that lasted more than four hours. De Minaur had a 3-0 lead in the decisive set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) to the world No.74. He has now lost in the first round of the French Open in four out of six appearances.
During the match De Minaur had to contend with a boisterous crowd who were cheering on Gaston. He faced some booing and jeering from those in the stands which the world No.20 was not happy about.
“I think there is a difference between a great atmosphere and supporting your fellow countrymen, which is completely fine and it’s great. I’m sure for him was an amazing atmosphere, he enjoyed every second of it.” De Minaur said afterwards.
“But there is a line that, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at.”
“Good on him (Gaston) for playing a great match in front of his home crowd and being able to feed off that, and you know, having a moment that I’m sure he won’t forget.”
De Minaur refused to go into what exactly was being said to him from certain members of the crowd but insisted that he was not being intimidated by what was occurring on the court. Towards the end of the match a series of unforced errors, including double faults, costed him dearly.
“I’m pretty sure I dealt with it pretty well, all things considering,” he said. “I was in the moment. I was in the heat of the moment battling out there. It felt like kind of an away Davis Cup match, and I thrive on that. It was a lot sometimes and sometimes you do your best to focus on playing a tennis match. There are outside factors that you do your best to control.“
Heading into Paris, De Minaur had shown encouraging results on the clay with semi-final runs to tournaments in Barcelona and Lyon. He also reached the third round in Rome and took a set off Andrey Rublev when they clashed in Monte Carlo.
Given those recent results on the Tour, it is clear that the latest defeat is one that will sit with him for a while.
“Ideally, I will sleep tonight and I will forget all about it, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case,” de Minaur admits.
“It’s disappointing, as everything is, it is what it is. It’s a sport that we are playing. You have your good days, your bad days. You win absolute battles; you lose absolute battles.”
As for Garon, he will face Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin in the second round. This year’s draw is a golden opportunity for the Frenchman with him guaranteed to not play a seeded player until at least the last 16 if he makes it that far.
Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal
The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.
By Kingsley Elliot Kaye
In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.
Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.
“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.
Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.
“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.
Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.
He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.
Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”
Injury-Hit Borna Coric Reacts To First Grand Slam Win In 16 Months
The Croat admits he was unsure how his shoulder would hold up in his opening match at Roland Garros.
Borna Coric said he is relieved that his body managed to hold up during his opening win at the French Open on Sunday.
The former world No.12 spent almost three hours on the court before defeating Spain’s Carlos Taberner 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, in what was his first Grand Slam match of any kind since the 2021 Australian Open. Paris is only the seventh tournament Coric has played in since returning to the Tour following a year-long absence due to shoulder surgery. The 25-year-old is yet to win back-to-back matches this season.
“It does feel great. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of my shoulder because I’ve never been in the fourth set, fifth set (of a match) for one-and-a-half years,” said Coric.
“So it was also kind of worrying for me, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how I’m going to feel and how my whole body is going to behave in those later sets. Obviously I’ve been practicing it, but it’s really never the same.”
Impressively the Croat produced a total of 54 winners against 39 unforced errors in his latest match in the French capital. Furthermore, he won 76% of his first service points and 53% of his second.
“The last few weeks haven’t been very easy, I lost many tight matches. I mean, I was also quite happy with my tennis, but I was just losing,” he reflected.
Coric was once tipped to be the future of men’s tennis after rising quickly up the ranks at a young age. In 2014 he was the youngest player to end the season in the top 100 and a year last he was the youngest to do so in the top 50. He has recorded a total of nine wins over top five players, including Roger Federer, as well as winning two Tour titles.
In the second round at Roland Garros Coric will take on the formidable Grigor Dimitrov who has been ranked as high as third in the world. He will enter the clash as the underdog given his ongoing comeback from injury. At present Coric’s principal focus is on his body but that will change in the coming weeks.
“Until Wimbledon my health needs to come first and after Wimbledon I can kind of try to switch in my mind so I can start playing more and more tournaments. I can train more and I can focus more on the tennis rather than on my shoulder,” he explains.
Coric has reached the third round of the French Open on four previous occasions.
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