PTPA: Who’s in, who’s out, who’s on the fence?

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With tensions growing between the ATP Tour and the Professional Tennis Players Association, led by world No 1 Novak Djokovic, we look at which players have come out in favour of the new organisation, and which are against it.

The battle lines have been drawn.

According to world No 1 Novak Djokovic, the ATP will not allow any players who are members of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) or any other similar organisation in tennis to be on the ATP Player Council, something that may just drive a knife through the ranks of the ATP Tour. Some players, like Diego Schwartzman and Milos Raonic, are very much in favour of the PTPA, while others, including Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Dominic Thiem are not.

The PTPA was co-founded by Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil on the eve of the US Open, with the intention of creating an association solely concerned with representing the rights of players. While the ATP Tour is a 50-50 split between players and tournaments, the PTPA is designed to protect player rights and — as Djokovic said on Wednesday — in particular to help players further down the rankings whose voices are often not heard.

Here’s what we have heard from some of the leading players about the PTPA and what side of the fence they come down on.

Backing the PTPA

Milos Raonic (interviewed by Tennis Majors at the US Open)
“I’m there to support it because I feel that there are some parts of the current structure, since I’ve been on Tour, that haven’t necessarily reaped the benefits we want. I don’t think this is a combat of any kind, this is players saying like…I think a lot of us are now getting more on the same page and we want to be represented in a unified way. There have been some things – I voiced my opinion about some things that have happened even during Corona which has been upsetting, by our organisation – but I’m not looking to pick those fights, but I think it’s good if we have a unified voice on it.”

Diego Schwartzman (at the ATP Finals)
“My point of view, we are not fighting against ATP. We are not going against ATP. We are just trying to work together and have maybe a strong voice. It’s just the only thing that many of the players are thinking. Many not, many not, you know. Novak, Vasek, they want to be in the (ATP Player) Council again because (it) is our voice in the ATP structure. But we still trying to have our association because it’s different things, and we don’t want to fight against ATP or the tournaments. No, no, we are just trying to work together and try to make tennis a better sport for everyone.”

Sam Querrey (at the US Open)
“I’m not on the (ATP) Council anymore, I’m for the association. I think ultimately it will be a good thing to have an association. The guys have wanted it for 20 years. Hopefully the ball is rolling and this will be the first step and it can get some traction, get some fundamentals down, get some bylaws.”

Leaning in favour of the PTPA

Alexander Zverev (at the US Open)
“I haven’t signed the paper. But I think it’s a great thing that players do want to come together. I think it’s great that we can be more united. I have to give credits — whether somebody signs the paper or not, that’s their decision. But I have to give credit to Novak and to Vasek, because a world No 1 has more things to do than do some player union or something like that, or not union but association. In his position, to be honest, he doesn’t need to. He just simply doesn’t need to. He can relax and not do anything and he will be just fine. But he cares about other players, which is great, I think.”

Alexander Zverev, Paris 2020

Felix Auger-Aliassime: (at the US Open)
“There’s been a lot of discussion lately within the group of these players. It’s just a start. We’ll see where it goes really. I’m really young in this. I like the unity of the players. I’m for that movement, but at the same time it’s just really the beginning and we’ll see where it goes. I don’t have more to say right now to this question.”

Against the PTPA

Rafael Nadal (at the ATP Finals)
“If we are in the situation that we are today is because not me and Roger but Novak included and Andy and the top players went to the tour and asked for what the other players we really think they deserved. So if we compare the tour today through five, six, seven, eight years ago, the improvement in terms of the income that the lower-ranked players have are significantly higher, no? And that (does) not mean that we are not trying to keep helping and to keep promoting the idea that if more players are able to survive from our sport, our sport gonna be bigger, of course yes. And of course we are talking about what we can do to try to make that happen, but we believe that we don’t need to create another organisation to make that happen. That’s all. But the idea is not different; the approach is completely different.”

Roger Federer (on social media)
“These are uncertain and challenging times but I believe it’s critical for us to stand united as players, and as a sport, to pave the best way forward.”

Dominic Thiem (at the ATP Finals)
“Honestly I like what ATP is doing. I think in general they are doing a great job with everything they are doing. So, well, me personally — for me, there is no reason to join any other player organisation or something. Everybody can have their own opinion. I think that’s no problem. But for me personally, ATP is doing a great job, and that’s why I’m super happy with them.”

Andy Murray (at the US Open)
“I won’t be signing it today. I’m not totally against a player union, player association, but right now there’s a couple of things. One is I feel like the current management that are in place should be given some time to implement their vision. Whether that works out or not would potentially influence me in the future as to which way I would go. Also the fact that the women aren’t part of it, I feel like that would send a significantly – well, just a much more powerful message personally if the WTA were onboard with it, as well. That’s not currently the case.”

Kevin Anderson (ATP Player Council president, at Roland-Garros)
“I personally believe that the two entities can’t coexist. We have our structure how it is. I feel like there’s a lot that needs to be better. I’ve always said that. I feel like we’ve managed to accomplish a lot within the structure. I feel like the new management that’s come in, their vision is really exciting. There’s a lot of unanswered questions. I think just with us competing so much, it’s been a little challenging to sort of figure that out. As the weeks go on, hopefully we’ll have a better understanding and idea to see what is exactly the PTPA. Obviously there’s a lot of players within it, but how is it going to take that step representing players within the tour.”

Others

Bruno Soares (at the ATP Finals, explaining why Djokovic, Pospisil, John Isner and Querrey had resigned from the Player Council)
“They decided to form PTPA. I guess all of us at the Player Council respect that. I mean, there is nothing against what they are trying. Is just I guess it doesn’t really go both ways, Player Council and PTPA, so they had to resign.”

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