From the status of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) to a major hurdle with 2021 season start plans, Tuesday evening ended with plenty for the tennis community to chat about on the Twittersphere.
A day later at the ATP Finals, several competitors weighed in on the sport’s hottest topics. The Telegraph first reported that Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil, who were previously asked to resign from the ATP Player Council in August due to their leadership roles in forming the PTPA, were among those hoping to be voted in for the next term. Both had been nominated by their peers.
But after Djokovic went down to Daniil Medvedev, 6-3, 6-3, on Wednesday night in London, the Serbian revealed no olive branch existed from the ATP to return to its player council. The world No. 1 shared that a new precedent, enacted just Tuesday, prevents anyone involved with the PTPA to concurrently represent players on the tour's council.
“The rule by ATP board was voted on last night, which basically doesn't allow any active player to be part of the council and any other organization in the tennis ecosystem, which is disappointing, to be honest, because I have not been approached by anybody from ATP on that matter,” Djokovic said. “Now with this rule that has been voted on last night, that actually is a strong message from ATP that they don't want PTPA at all in the system. So it's very clear. It wasn't clear from ATP before.
“Now we know where we stand. So then we obviously have to consider other strategic, I would say, positions and we have to consider our next move in a different way.”
After yesterday’s successful meeting, we are excited to announce the beginning of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA). The first player only association in tennis since 1972. #PTPA pic.twitter.com/q8H0aOdqDl— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) August 30, 2020
Diego Schwartzman disclosed earlier Wednesday that Djokovic and Pospisil weren’t the only two PTPA proponents targeting ATP Player Council spots.
“Many of the guys who sign the new association are in the council or trying to be nominated for the council. I mean, I don't remember everyone who is there but [there are] many, many guys,” the Argentine said following a three-set defeat to Alexander Zverev.
“Novak, Vasek, they want to be in the council again because [it] is our voice in the ATP structure. But we [are] still trying to have our association because it's different things, and we don't want to fight against ATP or the tournaments. We are just trying to work together and try to make tennis a better sport for everyone. Nothing else.”
US Open doubles champion Bruno Soares, himself seeking reelection, told press he was initially “shocked and curious” about seeing Djokovic and Pospisil among the nominees, though felt there should be no reason for anyone to feel unsettled with either pursuing another appointment.
“I don’t really know what’s going on with the PTPA. I was kicked out from their chat, I guess because I stayed in the player council, so I don't know their ideas. I don't know what they are doing,” said Soares, who currently occupies one of two 1-100 doubles slots. “I’m there, I'm running. I mean, Novak and Vasek, they were always very active on the council. And it's nice. It's good to have people. I think that's the goal.”
After saying he wasn’t aware of council rumblings, Zverev was solicited for comment on the latest from Australia. Following multiple reports of Tennis Australia’s proposal to relocate its swing of events to Melbourne in order to create a centralized bubble ahead of the Australian Open, those plans appeared to hit a snag on Tuesday.
During a Tennis Channel segment, it was reported that the Victorian government would not allow players to arrive until January 1 and with a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine presently in place, that timeline would impact the first two weeks of the traditional tennis calendar. The main draw of the Australian Open is scheduled to begin on January 18, but Zverev said he would not be open to the idea of participating with four days to prepare if athletes are not able to train during the quarantine period.
“I don't think that's an option, to be honest. If we can't even practice for 14 days and we have to go out to play the Australian Open, it's a lottery. I mean, you can basically flip a coin who wins,” said the 2020 US Open finalist.
“First few matches, especially for me, are quite scrappy in the year. So I would love to play maybe one event, two events, maybe ATP Cup before that. Credit to Tennis Australia and to Craig Tiley. I think they are doing the best they can. I think the Australian government is being very cautious about it, because they have no cases actually in Australia.”
In a note that went out to players, Tiley, the CEO of Tennis Australia, said, “As soon as we have the first arrival date for quarantining in Melbourne, we will be able to provide all the information and support you need to get there. We have secured the services of our travel agency to help book flights and we have had assurances that the visa process will be as simple as possible.”
Djokovic and Sofia Kenin are the reigning champions of the major staged at Melbourne Park. An eight-time winner, Djokovic praised the transparency of event organizers and is optimistic a solution will come together.
“There [are] several options that I hear that are on the table. I think Tennis Australia has been very communicative and very open with the whole process with us players,” Djokovic said. “I'm very pleased with the way Craig Tiley and Andre Sa from Tennis Australia have been trying to obviously fight for as best of conditions for the players as it is possible, but it's also not in their hands."
This past January, Djokovic led Serbia to the inaugural ATP Cup before raising his 17th major crown after a five-set victory over Dominic Thiem in the final. The 33-year-old went on to win his first 26 matches of the season, adding titles in Dubai—before the ATP tour shutdown for five months—and the ATP Masters 1000 trophy at "Cincinnati in New York"—when tournaments resumed in August.
“I would like to go there and I'm ready to quarantine for two weeks and whatever is necessary for me to be able to play,” Djokovic said. “Obviously for a lot of the players, they are done with the season in Paris-Bercy and then potentially having no official match before Australian Open, before a Grand Slam, is a huge thing. So hopefully we will be able to have at least a tournament before [the] Aussie Open.”