"Couldn't have handled it much worse": Opelka questions ATP leadership

"Couldn't have handled it much worse": Opelka questions ATP leadership

"We’re completely left in the dark, we don’t know what’s going on... I don’t think it’s a good look when the ATP execs are gonna be making more money than Roger Federer’s prize money this year," said the 22-year-old.

Reilly Opelka has criticized the ATP Tour for not doing enough to help players while play has been stopped during the coronavirus pandemic.

More tournaments have recently been cancelled, stretching the halt to professional competition at least five months. And with no tournaments to play, players are not earning any money.

The 22-year-old American, who has played two exhibition events this month, said the ATP's reaction had been insufficient. 

"I think they couldn’t have handled it much worse," he told Racquet magazine. "We’re completely left in the dark, we don’t know what’s going on. And the execs haven’t taken pay cuts. You know, the WTA execs are taking pay cuts, the WTA have gotten first-round prize money at Indian Wells. I don’t think it’s a good look when the ATP execs are gonna be making more money than Roger Federer’s prize money this year. We’ve been left in the dark completely as players so we don’t even know what they’re really doing right now." 

The ATP, WTA, ITF and Grand Slams have announced a $6 million relief fund for lower-ranked players, though details have yet to be provided.


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In addition, ATP Player Council president Novak Djokovic has led an effort to get Top 100 ATP players to contribute another $1.1 million for players No. 250-700 in the rankings, reaching further down than the official relief fund. There have been disagreements among players about providing contributions.

"Players should never pay other players. But given the mess that we’re in, it seems necessary," Opelka said. "So I somewhat support the Player Relief Fund. I think there’s plenty of guys that are 115 in the world that are paying for a coach and physio, trying to do things the right way, extremely professional, that are hurting the most, actually."

The No. 39 noted that players who play at the ITF level are usually in the red while competing, and would prefer helping players higher up in the rankings.

"I mean this in no disrespectful way at all, but guys ranked below 500 are saving money," he said. "They’re actually saving money by not traveling and playing. I think protecting the guys from 100 to 400 should be the No.1 priority. I don’t think, as an ATP exec, you should be supportive of asking your players to pay for other players when you haven’t taken a pay cut yourself, when us players have taken a 100 percent pay cut. That’s completely wrong."

Some of Opelka's comments are similar to those issued by Marco Trungelliti, ranked No. 320, who has also criticized the ATP for lack of communication and lack of recognition of coaches and trainers.

Plans for an official relief fund include providing amounts for around 400 singles and doubles players each on both the men's and women's tours.