Djokovic-led group of players on collision course with ATP over strategic plan

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Tennis – French Open – Paris, France – June 14, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic poses with the trophy in front of the Eiffel Tower after winning the French Open title in men’s singles Christophe Archambault / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo

Jun 25 (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic’s body of renegade players appears to be on a collision course with the men’s tour after the world’s number one asked the ATP to postpone a vote on a 30-year strategic plan to reform the sport.

Djokovic and Canadian Vasek Pospisil sent shock waves through the sport last year when they stepped down from their positions on the ATP Players’ Council and formed the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) on the eve of the US Open.

The PTPA aimed to better protect the interests of players, they said, but the move met with determined opposition from tennis associations.

A few days before the start of Wimbledon, things have warmed up again between the ATP and the PTPA, with the ATP board’s vote on a strategic plan next week emerging as the newest focal point.

The ambitious plan is primarily aimed at increasing revenue from media and television rights.

This week, the PTPA named Adam Larry Executive Director, among others, adding that its goal is “to create transparency and fairness in decision-making in professional tennis”.

The men’s tour responded with a strongly worded statement: “The creation of a separate player unit ensures a clear overlap, divides the players and further fragments the sport.

“Fragmentation has consistently been identified by leading experts in the sports field and beyond as the greatest threat to the growth potential of tennis that the ATP is currently working on with the Strategic Plan.”

MORE CLARITY

In addition to the ATP and WTA for women, the sport is also regulated by the International Tennis Federation and the four Grand Slams.

The ATP was founded by players in 1972 to represent the male athletes, but its board is currently made up of equal numbers of representatives from the tournament owners.

This week, the PTPA posed a series of questions to the ATP, asking for more clarity and transparency regarding the plan, which is due to go into effect from 2023, and formally asking the tour to postpone the vote before its concerns are addressed.

The ATP said the strategic plan could benefit players by strengthening big-ticket events, 50-50 profit sharing, higher prize pools and bonus pools, improving tournament standards and providing long-term stability.

“We have repeatedly asked the ATP to postpone voting on their 30-year plan until players understand how this will affect their health, their wellness rights (digital and / or otherwise) and their ability to receive fair wages achieve, ”Djokovic said in a statement on Twitter on Thursday.

“Thirty years is a very long time and will have a lasting and profound influence on the players today and for future generations. We just need transparency and answers to important questions.”

Last year Djokovic repeatedly claimed that the PTPA wanted to coexist with the governing bodies of the sport, but Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray opposed his move with the trio, which are also part of the current ATP Players’ Council.

The 19-time Grand Slam winner, who chaired the ATP Players’ Council before the PTPA was founded, said he had made several requests to a formal meeting with the men’s association to discuss the issue.

“To be clear, we are not saying that the 30-year plan or the ATP are bad, we just want more clarity,” said the Serb. “Until then, the vote must be postponed.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Ken Ferris

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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