“He’s Mad if He Thinks This is Going to Succeed!”- How Novak Djokovic Was Slammed by ATP Tour For Leading Huge Revolt Despite Roger Federer Resistance

Puranjay Dixit

The long-standing discussion over improved payouts for ATP players had almost taken an ugly turn in January 2018, and its repercussions had a huge impact on Novak Djokovic. Djokovic reportedly appealed to over 150 players to go on strike, a movement that some stars like Roger Federer opposed.

Djokovic, then president of the ATP Player Council, chaired a meeting with around 150 top players and the administrators of the sport. Held just days before the 2018 Australian Open, it failed to reach an amicable conclusion. The officials were asked to leave the room early for some players-only talks.

Speaking to his contemporaries, Novak Djokovic reportedly called for a boycott of the 2019 Australian Open and the formation of a rebel association. As per The Guardian, the Serb wished to increase the overall prize money offered to players. However, he also wanted to end the tradition of Grand Slams offering equal prize money to men and women. Andy Murray strongly opposed this.

Roger Federer agreed with Djokovic’s motion that prize money needs to be increased, especially for lower-ranked players. However, he was staunchly against extreme steps like a strike or directly pointing fingers at the administrators. Speaking to The Guardian, one official labelled Djokovic ‘mad’, saying talk of boycott is nonsense.

“He’s mad if he thinks this is going to succeed. It makes no sense.”

The main concern of these players was that professionals below a certain ranking, usually those outside the top 100-120, do not make sufficient money. Novak Djokovic wished to address that with an overall increased prize pool. He would ultimately establish the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) a couple of years later. Making tennis accessible and profitable for lower-ranked players is one of the main directives of the new organisation. Another issue the PTPA wishes to address is how the ATP manages both players and tournaments. They want to become a player-only body to remove this conflict of interest.

However, men’s tennis activity still comes under the ATP’s purview. The PTPA does not yet have a directly influential or controlling power. However, Djokovic and his team played an important role in the introduction of the ATP’s Baseline program. The World No.1 has been relentless in his efforts to get more money into players’ pockets.

Federer, and Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, have firmly been on ATP’s side, also slamming Djokovic for creating the PTPA. This has led many fans to accuse the duo of being the association’s mouthpieces and not doing much to help their fellow players. They have advocated improved, and even equal, pay but have not been as vocal and proactive as Novak Djokovic.

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About the author

Puranjay Dixit

Puranjay Dixit

Puranjay is a Tennis Journalist at The SportsRush. He has written more than 300 articles on the sport. Ask him anything about tennis and he is ready to come up with well-crafted answers. He has been following tennis ever since his parents introduced him to the game when he was 10. His favourite player may be Rafael Nadal, but ask him who's the GOAT, and he'll say, Novak Djokovic. He may be pursuing a degree in an unrelated field, but creating quality sports content remains his first love.

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