June 19, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

“Big-3” player relief plan will be voluntary only

Much was made last week of the relief plan, initiated by Novak Djokovic and hatched by the “Big Three” of tennis, about how to help the lower-ranked players survive the shutdown of tournaments.

The top 100 players would contribute to those ranked 250 through 700 on a sliding scale. The suggested buy-in ranged from $30,000 from the top five, to $5,000 for those ranked at the lower end of the top 100.

But during an Instagram Live with Fabio Fognini of Italy Tuesday, Djokovic said, that the player component met with resistance.

Djokovic and Fognini have some fun during an Insta Live Tuesday

“Players, individually, can help as much as they want. I did talk with Roger (Federer) and Rafa (Nadal) and did try to propose a financial model, a proposition of how much per player, per ranking, players should donate,” Djokovic said. “But it’s difficult to pressure players into giving money, whatever the ranking is. So I understand that there are difference in the opinions.

“I invite anyone who likes tennis, who wants tennis to survive as a sport, (to donate).”

Djokovic said they tried to push the initiative to players because even though the big organizations are kicking in, he feels “like the players should show the solidarity, show the unity in these moments, show these lower-ranked players that we don’t forget about them, that they are there, they are present.

“I think we are still not aware of how much struggle there is on this level between 250-300 and … 1,000 of the world,” Djokovic added. “I actually received a lot of positive messages and letters of gratitude from a lot of players who are lower ranked. But obviously this is not only my initiative.

“I’m privileged to be in a position of using my status of being a top player who, in these times, can raise awareness for those players who are struggling. I personally have earned enough money to live many more years without playing tennis, so it’s not an issue for me. But there are many players at the Futures, level, Challenger level. that are struggling a lot.”

Djokovic spoke of the planned “player relief fund” that he said the ATP has created and contributed a “certain amount of money” to (Djokovic didn’t want to specify before the announcement, but qualified it as “significant”) The Grand Slams and the ITF will also contribute, he said.

The “Big 3” of men’s tennis, the three wealthiest players on tour, found that their proposal to their top-100 brethren for a prescribed contribution to the player relief fund met with too much resistance.

He made no mention of the WTA Tour as part of the overall effort.

Challenger pals thinking of quitting

Djokovic also said that “many guys that have contacted my brother, and other friends I have on the Challenger tour say they are strongly considering to stop.”

“They have to earn money, they have to survive in some way. They don’t have sponsors, they don’t have federations behind them. This is a big issue for our sport,” Djokovic added.

Djokovic said that a lot of lower-ranked players have been getting in touch with brother Marko do tell their tales of struggles during the pandemic stoppage. (Stephanie Myles)

“The sport has to think how they expand the base, attract the younger generations and give them an opportunity to understand that if you play pro tennis, even if you’re not top 100 in the world, you can still make money and play tennis.

Regional prize money tournaments

https://opencourt.ca/wordpress/2020/04/21/tennis-organizations-unite-for-player-relief/

DJokovic also said that he thought there would be regional touraments of some sort before a full return to play, with the uncertainty about quarantines and timing of the re-opening of various countries.

“Points, probably not at the moment, because it’s very complicated. So let’s see,” he said.

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