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‘I want to break the monopoly’ – Djokovic on his fight for what’s right in tennis

The world No 1 feels that more players have to earn their living playing tennis, and says that he is thorn in the side of many people because he is trying to change an unfair system

Novak Djokovic Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after winning the match against Cameron Norrie of England at the Nitto ATP Finals (Panoramic)

World No 1 Novak Djokovic insists that it is imperative for the world of tennis to allow more players to make a living out of tennis and that he does not have a problem with challenging the current structure publicly.

Along with fellow player Vasek Pospisil, Djokovic formed The Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), which was launched at the US Open 2020. In Djokovic’s opinion, people have to be more proactive and to take a stand.

“This goes for every aspect of life, not just tennis: we are conformistic as a society,” Djokovic told Sport Klub. “It always feels better to be a part of the herd, rather than leave it and say: ‘People, this is not just, this is not the truth, I will raise my voice and try to fight for those less fortunate than me’. Unfortunately, most of the people choose the easier way, to only take care of themselves. Since tennis is an individual sport, that comes to the surface even more.

“But OK, I do not have a problem with it, because I know who I am and what I consider to be just. I am fighting for it. I know that I am a thorn in the side of many people, because I am trying to break the monopoly that has been ruling tennis for quite some time now, for many years.”

In June, Pospisil and Djokovic announced the appointment of the PTPA executive director, named an advisory board, and enlisted a PR company to carry out its branding and communications.

“You will never find stories in the media about how many people make a living out of this sport. Everyone is talking about how much Djokovic, Federer and Nadal make. On the other hand, nobody is mentioning that tennis is the third most popular sport globally, but it is outside the top ten when it comes to players’ income, compared to other sports. Barely top 350-400 players (on both Tours) can make a living out of this sport. Let me see how much money makes the 150th best player in any other globally renowned sport.”

Djokovic feels that the PTPA’s main goal is to be the voice of those lower-level players that make the foundation of tennis.

“PTPA and everything we are trying to do is for the benefit of those women and men who are trying to have their voice heard, but nobody is listening: elite is always going to look after the elite, that is how it goes. But there is a kid from Serbia trying to make a difference.

Djokovic on Gaudenzi: “We are honest with each other”

Djokovic told Serbian media that he has a decent relationship with ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi, but that does not mean that they always see eye to eye.  

“Gaudenzi lives in Monte Carlo, I used to play tennis with his kids. We always had a nice relationship, that is still the case, we are honest with each other: just a few days ago, we exchanged a few emails in regards to Australia. I communicate mostly with players for ATP Players Council, I know what it’s like to be a part of it, but players do not have any executive
power”, Djokovic said.

“I respect the ATP and the structure, I am a part of it and I have made a living out of ATP tournaments, along with the Grand Slams. I try to contribute in my own way to the progress of the ATP Tour, I am aware of that role of mine. On the other hand, it is not a secret that this system is not working well for the players. We need to find a way for more players to be able
to make a living out of tennis, we have to do better and we have to speak about it publicly more often. I never had a problem with it, because otherwise nobody would be talking.”

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