2020 was a season like no other. Click here to review the top moments from the pandemic-ravaged year.
If there is a photo that captures some of the oddness of this season, the below might be it. It shows more than 45 ATP players standing on a court at the US Open—difficult to identify behind their face coverings—holding up a signed document and posing for the cameras.
After today’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/070TRKZ4xG— Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) August 29, 2020
The event marked the start of the PTPA, a new players' association, and was designed to invoke the famous photo of the WTA's Original 9 in 1970, and the Parking Lot Press Conference in 1989 that began the ATP Tour.
While those had involved the players starting their own tours, the PTPA said it did not currently plan to compete with the ATP, but simply represent the players as an independent entity. It has been the initiative of Vasek Pospisil and Novak Djokovic, who say they have "about 200" ATP players—and, now, also WTA pros—signing up to move forward with creating an association.
But while it is the most significant player organization effort in years, it lacks most of the top names and also comes as the tours and tournaments are facing a significant hit to their balance sheets. Dozens of tournaments were cancelled this season and most of them had to halt ticket sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also led to reductions in prize money. In these circumstances, player demands for a greater share of tournament income—one of the chief goals of the PTPA—seem less significant at the moment.
Still, the move seems to have stirred the ATP into action. Following player complaints about lack of communication during the tour shutdown, it has been in regular contact with pros and shared a plan for significantly remaking the tour's schedule and promotion under new CEO Andrea Gaudenzi. It has also urged players not to join the PTPA and instructed all PTPA members on the ATP Player Council to resign, and recently took steps to block those like Djokovic and Pospisil from running for the council once more.
"That actually is a strong message from ATP that they don't want PTPA at all in the system, and they don't want any player involved in council and PTPA at the same time," said Djokovic. "It's unfortunate really to see that the ATP's position is such [but] now we know where we stand."
Where it goes from here, though, is anyone's guess.