During his virtual press conference following a surprisingly error-filled defeat at the hands of a superb Daniil Medvedev, former Player Council president Novak Djokovic dropped some news.
The ATP Tour board, he said, voted in favour of a rather … proactively combative new rule Tuesday night.
“(The rule) basically doesn’t allow any 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 the ATP on that matter,” Djokovic said.
“As I’ve been saying, I’ve always been very transparent and honest. And I’ve always emphasized the fact that legally there is absolutely no issue of us being in the council and the PTPA.”
ATP Board Rulz
The way the ATP Board is constituted and votes, there are three members representing the players, and three members representing the tournaments.
The theory is that the representatives voted to the board by the Player Council are supposed to vote “nay” for proposals that go against their best interests.
So, assuming they did – and the tournament reps voted the other way – the tiebreaking vote goes to … ATP CEO Andrea Gaudenzi.
Return to council seems unlikely
Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil were among four players who resigned from the Player Council under duress in August. Much of that duress, we’re told, came Gaudenzi.
So this new wrinkle definitely follows that philosophy. And, if anything, it will only exacerbate the relationship between the players who are agitating for change by endorsing the new PTPA, and the status quo.
Pospisil and Djokovic announced the founding of the fledgling Professional Tennis Players Association at the US Open, after which their resignations (along with those of Sam Querrey and John Isner) occurred.
And yet, both are on the nominations list for the new player council, which comes into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.
Djokovic said Wednesday that neither he nor Pospisil had been seeking to rejoin the council.
“I have been nominated by players, and that’s how it works. I (did) not proactively run for the council. Neither did Vasek. But both of us have been nominated by a large group of players. For me that’s a great sign, and I feel responsible and honoured to be able to represent players. And I do not see any conflict of any kind in being part of the PTPA and the player council,” Djokovic said.
“I didn’t see it back in August when the PTPA was founded. And I don’t see it now. And that’s why I accepted the nomination, along with Vasek.”
Disappointment at new rule
Djokovic said it was disappointing that the ATP decided it was going to be at odds with the PTPA, which has been working behind the scenes since the big group photo on the Louis Armstrong Stadium court that announced its arrival.
“We want to collaborate with the ATP, and we want to potentially have a place in the ecosystem. Because this is what players deserve. With this rule that was voted on last night, that is a strong message from the 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. It’s very clear,” Djokovic said.
“It wasn’t clear from the ATP before. The reason why you are not hearing much from the PTPA in the last couple of months is because we’ve been trying to discuss with the ATP. And we have actually had come conversations with them in trying to understand how we can work together.”
Many candidates “joined” the PTPA
This twist in the tale is going to make the Player Council elections extremely interesting.
Because many of the players on the candidates list revealed by Open Court earlier today have expressed their support for the PTPA.
Many were in the group photo taken to mark the founding of the organization.
Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime was among them. So was Milos Raonic, who was very vocal in his support during virtual press conferences during the US Open.
“The PTPA’s position was never to oppose the ATP, or ITF or WTA or anybody. But we know what we deserve as players, and we are just trying to fight for better position and better treatment out there in the ecosystem,” Djokovic said.
“It’s unfortunate to see that the ATP’s position is such. But okay. Now we know where we stand. So we obviously have to consider other strategic positions. We have to consider our next move a different way. And we’ll see what happens.”
Djokovic had even more to say in Serbian, translated here.