November 25, 2020

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Player Council member Bruno Soares talks politics, Aussie quarantine

Soares during a Zoom virtual conference Wednesday from London.

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It was hardly the most opportune time, after Bruno Soares and partner Mate Pavic – the No. 1 seeds – had just lost a gut-wrencher at the ATP Tour finals.

But the 38-year-old Brazilian was gracious enough to expound upon some of the tennis topics very much in the news in a Zoom press conference after the 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 10-8 loss to Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos Wednesday in London.

Among those asking the questions were Mike Dickson of the Daily Mail, and Simon Briggs of the Telegraph.

The Victorian government is making things a challenge for Tennis Australia, which is trying its very best to have an Australian summer of tennis in a way that best allows the players to thrive.

But with the news announced on Open Court Tuesday that a planned December quarantine period is now off, time is getting short.

“If we had to go out and quarantine for 14 days inside a room and then go and play a Grand Slam I would do it, because it’s my job and I have to find a way But I think it’s quite dangerous for the players with no preparation,” Soares said.

“I think it’s physically very dangerous. It’s far from ideal. But again, it’s not in our hands,” he added. “I’ll go there and compete in whatever conditions they present. I know they’re working hard to give the players the best possible conditions. Let’s hope it’s something where we can at least practice and prepare ourselves for the whole year.”

Soares has already had COVID-19

A tough loss for No. 1 seeds Soares and Pavic Wednesday in London. They are 1-1 in the round robin. (TennisTV)

Soares added that he’s already had to undergo strict quarantine, because he contracted the coronavirus earlier this year, before going to the US Open.

“It’s tough to go out there and play right away,” he said.

Soares and Pavic won in New York, beating Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic. They also reached the Roland Garros final and the final at the Paris Masters 10 days ago.

Drama inside the Player Council

As a longtime member of the ATP Tour’s player council who has seen a lot of turnover in that body in recent years, Soares also confirmed the news from Telegraph journalist Simon Briggs about former president Novak Djokovic and Canadian Vasek Pospisil.

The two, co-founders of the nascent Professional Players Tennis Association, found themselves in the position of having to resign, as they began signing fellow players to letters of intent for the new organization during the US Open.

Now, the two are running again for new terms on the Player Council, which begin on Jan. 1.

Soares confirmed he also is running again. We’re told that Andy Murray, one of those added to the council after the resignations by vote of those remaining on the Player Council, also is running for an elected spot.

After Pospisil, Djokovic, Sam Querrey and John Isner all tendered their resignations in New York, new representatives were voted upon by the current council (which includes Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal) to complete their terms.

“It’s quite interesting, because they resigned three months ago, to go ahead with PTPA. I don’t really know what’ going on on the PTPA. I was kicked out from their chat, I guess because I stayed on the Player Council,” Soares said, with just a hint of a smile. “I don’t know their ideas. I don’t know what they’re doing. Don’t know much, to be honest, about them.”

“Very active and engaged”

Soares said that he’s probably as “shocked and curious” as anyone about their intentions. He said that the procedure was nothing like a political campaign – or even like the elections to the ATP Board, which had candidates laying out their platforms.

“Novak and Vasek were always very active on the council. And it’s nice. I think that’s the goal. All of us on the council have to work hard and make decisions that are best for the tour. But then, they decided to form PTPA. I guess all of us as the player council respect that,” he said. “Nothing against what they’re trying, but I guess it doesn’t really go both ways,  Player Council and PTPA So they had to resign.

“Right now I don’t really know what they would be doing if they get elected,” he added.

Soares said he didn’t anticipate it would be awkward, as the players on the council are used to having divergent ideas, and that’s why there are 10 of them to discuss issues and vote on them.

“They always very active and protective working for the players.  I guess if they want to go back, they want to help the players in the best possible way,” he said.

A US-Open like bubble?

Soares said he thought there were a couple of options, in terms of the Australian summer actually happening.

One is that the first two tournaments ahead of the big event could be played in a bubble, like at the US Open.

“We all know it worked very good at the US Open behind closed doors. They were able to control almost everything. And it could work the same over there,” Soares said.

“If they plan to go ahead with an Australian Open with fans, (players and teams) would be 14 days in quarantine and tested a few times. But if the government doesn’t allow, maybe delaying one week is a good possibility – to give everyone at least one tournament to prepare for the big one.”

Patience the key

Soares said that he had faith that Tennis Australia was going to move heaven and earth to get things done, and also help the players with the additional expense that will surely be involved.

“We’re all going to go on vacation now, going to start pre-season, and give them time to work with the government, to get the best possible deal. I trust how they’re doing,  They’ve always been very supportive in helping the players,” Soares said. We have to be patient. It’s crazy times.”