Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil are still hopeful that they can get the support of big-name players like Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal for their breakaway Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA).
The pair launched the PTPA at last year’s US Open with the aim of defending the interests of players, giving them more of a voice, and improving prize money for those lower down the rankings.
However it has provided divisive, with some players voicing their support and others, like Federer and Nadal, speaking out against it and continuing to back the ATP Tour. Williams is yet to commit herself either way on the PTPA.
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“It would be a massive help, absolutely," Pospisil told CNN about getting star names on board.
"I think maybe they feel like it's a big step to take. You know, it's obviously something that could be transformational in the sport and there's always a question mark.
"So I totally respect that they haven't got on board to support us yet. I'm very optimistic. I'm very optimistic that they will at some point. I just believe that what we're doing is, you know, it's all for the right reasons. I truly believe that it's critical for our sport."
Djokovic has previously said that he would “love” Federer and Nadal to join the PTPA, but they have told him they are not interested.
While Djokovic claims there is plenty of support from elsewhere, the ATP said in a statement earlier this year that they will do “everything in its power” to prevent the PTPA from “dividing and fragmenting” tennis.
"We feel this is the right moment," Djokovic told CNN ahead of starting his quest to win the Calendar Slam at the US Open on Tuesday night.
"Right now, Covid has unfortunately further revealed a lot of malfunctions in the system.
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"I've been part of the player council for almost 10 years and have been president of the council for over five years. I've seen everything from the inside. I've experienced politics from the inside of the structure. I know the way the hierarchy works. And unfortunately, players always pick the shorter end of the stick and that's why we feel a player organization is necessary."
One of the big focuses of the PTPA is helping players who struggle to make ends meet financially on the tour. Djokovic says for him it is not about "individual legacy", but improving the sport as a whole.
"The players' voices are not heard enough and I'm talking about the lower ranked players," he said.
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"Obviously, what you hear and see in the media is top players and their prize money earnings. But the thing that probably 95 per cent of the people who follow tennis, and particularly the ones that are not avid tennis fans…do not know is, as I mentioned, only around one hundred players on both the women's and men's side live out of this sport and we want to change that."
The tension between the ATP and PTPA came to a head at the Miami Open earlier this year when Pospisil vented his frustrations on court following a tense meeting with ATP president Andrea Gaudenzi.
Pospisil launched an expletive-laden rant and said that he was "screamed" at for "trying to unite the players".
"We are here to be an additional help to what they already have within the ATP and WTA structure,” added Djokovic. “We feel like the ATP and WTA are doing a very good job with many different things and they're trying constantly to upgrade the services that they provide to their players.
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"We are not here to only criticize and point out the negatives. But, you know, looking at the larger picture and the long run, we feel like the PTPA can contribute to even better business and even better operations and functionality of the entire system and structure in both women's and men's tennis."
One criticism Murray had of the PTPA when it launched in 2020 was that it didn’t seem as though female players from the WTA Tour were going to be included.
A year on the focus still appears to be mainly on the ATP Tour, and tennis legend Billie Jean King says the PTPA needs to do more.
"They only talk about the women if they’re pushed,” she told the New Yorker. “That’s not good enough. They’ve got heavy hitters, they’ve got money—Novak Djokovic is definitely going to be the best ever, which is really important. But I don’t know how much people want to follow him."
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