PTPA: the players’ association co-founded by Novak Djokovic is on the rise but still divides opinions



The concept is meant to give players more voice and more control over their careers both on and off the pitch.

“We think now is the right time,” Djokovic told CNN Sport over the phone ahead of the US Open. “At present, Covid has unfortunately further revealed numerous malfunctions in the system.

“I’ve been on the players’ council for almost 10 years and have been chairman of the board for over five years. I’ve seen it all from the inside out.

“I’ve known politics from inside the structure. I know how the hierarchy works. And unfortunately players always choose the shorter end of the stick and that’s why we think an organization of players is needed. “

The PTPA can now boast of a more professional infrastructure and this week launched new partnerships that will provide its members – of which there are 500 – with advice and guidance on branding and business decisions.

One of the new projects, Courtside Curriculum, will provide players with personal and professional development from leading global experts.

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The other of its new initiatives is a partnership with sports technology company Opendorse to provide its members with access to tools to help build brands and help with sponsorship opportunities.

These are in part aimed at helping the hundreds of tennis players who struggle to make a living from playing.

The low prices offered at small events and the cost of travel mean that players outside of the top 100 often live from day to day. According to some, a gamer would have to earn around $ 200,000 per year to make a living.

Djokovic, of course, is one of the few who has made a comfortable living out of tennis, but says his desire to help with this organization is not about “individual heritage” but about improving the sport as a whole. .

“The voices of the players are not being heard enough and I am talking about the lower ranked players,” he said. “Obviously what you hear and see in the media are the top players and their cash winnings.

“But the thing that probably 95% of people who follow tennis, and especially those who aren’t avid tennis fans, […] I don’t know, as I mentioned, only about 100 players, both women and men, make a living from this sport and we want to change that. ”

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Novak Djokovic says the new organization is there to help the players.

The best players would be a “massive help”

While Djokovic was a driving force behind this project, much of the day-to-day activities were carried out by co-founder Vasek Pospisil.

The Canadian, ranked 58th in the world, says he hopes more players will join the project, including big names like Federer, Nadal and Serena Williams.

“It would be a huge help, absolutely,” he told CNN Sport.

“I think maybe – maybe they feel like it’s a big step forward. You know, it’s obviously something that could be transformational in sport and there’s always a interrogation point.

“So I totally respect that they haven’t signed up to support us yet. I’m very optimistic. I’m very optimistic that they will at some point.

“I just believe what we’re doing, you know, is for the right reasons. I really believe it’s essential for our sport.”

Vasek Pospisil is the co-founder of PTPA.

While the ATP has issued negative statements about the separatist group, those in the PTPA believe a time will come when the sport’s existing governing bodies will have to work with them.

Pospisil says the time could be in a few months with the organization gaining momentum, but said it will stop before boycotting tournaments in order to have its voice heard.

“We are here to give further help to what they already have within the ATP and WTA structure,” added Djokovic.

“We feel like ATP and WTA are doing a really good job with a lot of different things and they’re constantly trying to improve the service they provide to their players.

“We’re not here just to criticize and point out the negatives. But, you know, looking at the big picture and in the long run, we think the MYPOW can help make even better business and operations and even better functionality of the entire system and structure of women’s and men’s tennis. “

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Last year ATP said the plans were divisive and said it remains “committed to working closely with other tennis governing bodies as we seek to realize the true potential of our sport. “.

When asked what she thinks about the PTPA, the WTA – organizers of the women’s tour – said they would continue to watch over their players.

“The perspective of our members is paramount to the culture and decision-making process of the WTA,” a statement told CNN this week.

“All decisions are made with the players and tournaments together, being represented equally. The players are at the table where the decision-making takes place and their voice is well represented in all decisions made by the WTA.”

He added: “It is essential for all of us to continue to work together, as we really believe, and we have seen since the inception of the WTA, that we are stronger together.”

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Vaccination advice

In addition to financial and educational advice, the PTPA will provide its members with advice on mental health, a topic that has been a huge topic of discussion in sport as a whole – sparked by the honesty shown by Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles this year.

Amid the pandemic, the organization will also have to deal with the issue of player vaccinations.

Vaccination is not yet compulsory for circuit players, but conditions for those who are fully vaccinated are much more comfortable during tournaments and grand slams.

Djokovic has made headlines for his position over the past year, saying he doesn’t want the vaccine to become mandatory for players.
Other big stars, like Andy Murray, have said it is the players’ responsibility to get vaccinated in order to protect the general public.

When asked how the PTPA plans to approach the subject, Djokovic said it is still a work in progress.

“I’m not an expert, of course, and I’m not going to talk about the pros and cons of getting the vaccine,” he said. “But I am in favor of freedom of choice.”

He added: “So I really think it should be left to a player to make a decision.

“We don’t know what the future holds. I don’t think any industry really knows what the future holds.

“We’re going to make sure we gather as much information as we have experts on this, work with the players and provide them with all the information they need to make a conscious choice.”


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