ATP chief Andrea Gaudenzi has called for tennis players to unite during this difficult period for the sport. Gaudenzi believes that the new player association floated by World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will harm everyone involved by creating divisions in the tennis community.
Djokovic stepped down as the Player Council president earlier this year to launch the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA). The Serb cited the need to make the lower-ranked players' voices heard as the main reason for the creation of this rebel group.
Canada's Vasek Pospisil was one of the key supporters of Novak Djokovic at the time of the formation of the PTPA. Over the last few weeks, around 150 men and 200 women have signed up for the new tennis association.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, the head of the ATP Tour Andrea Gaudenzi appealed to the players to show unity. The 47-year-old Italian pointed out that the goals of both the associations wouldn't be able to be addressed if a division existed.
Andrea Gaudenzi gives an update on meeting with Novak Djokovic
The ATP chief divulged that there was frustration among the players and administrators because of the big question marks over the tour schedule. The organizers had to make a few alterations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has thrown everyone's preparations into disarray.
Gaudenzi does believe, however, that the ATP did its best to solve the players' issues and grievances.
"Obviously this has been a very difficult period for the players. We were in limbo until the end of July when the tour would resume and where the US Open would be held. There was frustration among many. I have been a player myself and I understand their state of mind, but we listened to their complaints," Gaudenzi said.
The PTPA, the first player-only association in tennis since 1972, was established by Novak Djokovic during the American hardcourt swing. The Serb has made it clear that the PTPA will not boycott the ATP, but has also asserted that there was a real necessity to form this group.
The tennis world has had mixed opinions on Novak Djokovic's association. Some have welcomed this idea, while others, including Andrea Gaudenzi, have reckoned that the players should work in coordination with each other.
"We will all meet together at the end of November and December. We are, of course, open to discussions [with Novak Djokovic and the PTPA], but the time has come for unity and not for conflicts," added Gaudenzi.
Gaudenzi also tried to draw the players' attention towards the reality that the tournaments needed them and vice-versa. He signed off with the following remark:
"It wouldn't work and everyone would lose. Tournaments need players and players need tournaments. We cannot achieve the necessary changes if there are divisions. We must fight together to defend the best interests of tennis above all. Today, we need consistency."
It is pertinent to note that the new ATP Player Council president Kevin Anderson recently expressed doubt that the two bodies could co-exist together. With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal not siding with Novak Djokovic, it will be interesting to see how the PTPA reacts in the coming days.Published 06 Nov 2020, 22:14 IST