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Dominic Thiem's manager thinks keeping same prize money will be "economic suicide", says "some players" want to destabilize ATP

Novak Djokovic (L) and Dominic Thiem
Novak Djokovic (L) and Dominic Thiem
Modified 04 Apr 2021

Dominic Thiem’s manager Herwig Straka recently threw his weight behind ATP’s decision to reduce prize money at tournaments during the pandemic. He claimed that without such measures, the ATP tour could go bankrupt - a possibility that Straka believes players like Vasek Pospisil fail to understand.

Pospisil had recently launched a foul-mouthed tirade against ATP Chief Andrea Gaudenzi for allegedly admonishing the Canadian at a player meeting during the Miami Open. Along with Novak Djokovic, Vasek Pospisil has long been championing the cause of higher pay for ATP players, which presumably led to his tiff with Gaudenzi.

But Herwig Straka, a member of the ATP Board of Directors and also the Tournament Director for the Vienna Open, believes it would be "economic suicide" if tournaments don't cut down on prize money. Dominic Thiem’s manager even suggested that players like Vasek Pospisil are needlessly fighting a lost cause without recognizing the economic situation.

"If you don't reduce the prize money in times of corona, there will be no more tournaments," Dominic Thiem’s manager said. "It's like a company: either you cut your salaries and cut a few jobs, or the company goes bankrupt. Anything else would be economic suicide. Most players have the necessary understanding for this, only some have to slip into the role of martyrs. Vasek Pospisil is just one of these critics."

Herwig Straka then took an indirect jibe at "some players" - presumably the likes of Vasek Pospisil and Novak Djokovic - by claiming that they are keen on hampering the ATP's operations to suit their "personal interests".

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic

Dominic Thiem’s manager pointed out that the ATP is a rare organization where the members (players) have half the weight in all decision-making.

"There is an interest on the part of some players in destabilizing the association," Straka said. "But this is due to personal interests and animosities. It's a shame, as the ATP is an organization in which the players have 50 percent of the right to make decisions. You won't find it anywhere else."

Herwig Straka then offered an arm of support to the PTPA by indicating that the ATP is willing to work with the association - but without granting them a say in the decision-making.

"But it is also quite conceivable for us to take the newly founded players' union PTPA on board as a service organization for the players - but without decision-making power," Dominic Thiem's manager added.

After Australia, Dominic Thiem got a slight mental dent: Herwig Straka

Dominic Thiem at the Dubai Open
Dominic Thiem at the Dubai Open

Turning his attention to Dominic Thiem, Herwig Straka gave his reasons for why the reigning US Open champion has seen a drastic dip in form and fortunes this year.

Thiem has suffered four defeats already in 2021, and has failed to get past the quarterfinal stage of any event so far. A persistent foot problem and the long-standing dispute with former coach Gunter Bresnik were believed to be the reasons behind Dominic Thiem's poor show.

Herwig Straka indicated the same with his comments, and suggested that it is not surprising for a player’s career to briefly go "downhill" after having achieved the biggest success.

"It was a combination of several factors," Dominic Thiem’s manager said. "He reached important milestones in 2020 that he would never have dreamed of. And when you are at the summit, it goes downhill again. After Australia he got a slight mental dent - and then his body hurts more."

But Straka added that Dominic Thiem is mentally and physically on the mend now, as he prepares for his favorite part of the year.

"But there is no reason to be pessimistic," Straka continued. "He is now in the process of gathering himself and recharging his batteries and will attack again at the start of the claycourt season."
Published 04 Apr 2021, 16:01 IST
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