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Opinion

Can Novak Djokovic's PTPA survive?

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Roar Rookie
2nd September, 2020
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Novak Djokovic has made major waves after announcing he would be leaving his role as president of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Players Council.

Former world number 25 Vasek Pospisil took to twitter to announce he too would be leaving his role on the Players Council, with he and Djokovic leading a new players-only organisation in the form of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) as co-presidents.

So what is behind this move? Djokovic has voiced his displeasure with the ATP in the past, suggesting at the 2018 Australian Open players should receive a greater share of revenue from Grand Slams.

Despite the ATP raising the pay for lower-ranked players, tennis continues to remain the only sport that only allows the top-100 ranked players in the world to make money from the tour. The formation of a new council that focuses solely upon player interests does, therefore, have the potential to provide a framework for concerns over issues of pay to be better heard.

However, the PTPA is already facing setbacks.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Firstly, despite some 40 faces appearing in Pospisil’s Sunday announcement on Twitter, key supporters are missing.

Without the involvement of any women, there are serious doubts over how much influence the PTPA will actually have, although Pospisil has said there is an active dialogue with the women and that PTPA recognises the importance of gaining their support.

Former world No.1 Andy Murray said the absence of women was reason he is withholding his support, suggesting that getting the WTA onside would send a much larger message.

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Then there is the absence of perhaps the most important faces in men’s tennis, with both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer having distanced themselves from the split, directing their criticisms at the announcements’ timing.

With the current challenges tennis currently faces, both Nadal and Federer have called for player unity and not division.

It also appears unnecessary to create issues for the ATP in the midst of a pandemic. Furthermore, tennis is already considered to be one of the more glamorous and wealthier sports, and in the fractured state the world is currently in, is it really wise to be sending the message that tennis players aren’t paid enough?

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Alternatively, with Nadal and Federer absent from Flushing Meadows, it presents the perfect opportunity for Djokovic to make the announcement as the attention of the tennis world is already focused on the Serbian.

In the current state of the world, the timing of the PTPA’s formation remains curious, as does its exclusion of the WTA and key men’s players.

Only time will tell whether the PTPA will become anything more than an experiment but, as the tennis world knows, with Novak anything is possible.