Novak Djokovic has been no stranger to controversy over the last few months, and the trend has continued with the creation of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA).
Djokovic recently resigned as the president of the ATP Player Council to start this rebel player association, with the support of Vasek Pospisil and some others. However, his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal voiced their opposition soon, questioning its timing given the current global scenario.
Continuing on the same thread, Rafael Nadal’s uncle - Toni Nadal - has also expressed his concerns about the PTPA.
In a recent column for El Pais, the 59-year-old penned his thoughts about several matters including the lack of communication within player boxes due to social distancing, Djokovic’s chances at the US Open, and the drawbacks of the PTPA.
Novak Djokovic’s association doesn’t defend all players: Toni Nadal
Novak Djokovic and his fellow sympathizers in the PTPA have stressed on the need for tennis to have a better payment structure, especially for the lower-ranked players. For them, the division of prize money was heavily biased towards the ones at the top.
Add to that the uneven distribution of the revenue earned by tournaments, and Djokovic felt that the time was ripe to start a new association to fight for the rights of the players.
As it stands, Novak Djokovic’s new association is believed to be fighting for improved payment for the top 500 singles players and top 200 doubles teams. Interestingly enough, these players are just from ATP; there has been no mention of the WTA players yet.
For Toni Nadal, the PTPA, despite being an attempt to protect the economic interests of players, is ultimately a half-measure. He believes that the figure of 500 singles players is not only ‘arbitrary’ but also fails to represent all the players on the tour.
“With this segregation, the Serbian tries a better defense of the interests of the tennis players; the economic ones, mainly." said Toni. "To begin with, I read that in this new association the first 500 in singles and the first 200 in doubles would be defended. Curious and arbitrary figure. It is very nice to worry about such a high number, but when defending them, wouldn't it be better if we defended them all?”
Toni Nadal also threw his weight behind the stance of Roger Federer and his nephew Rafael Nadal questioning the timing of Novak Djokovic’s decision. In a more blunt take, Toni seemingly labeled the Serbian 'selfish' for wanting to pursue his ‘own interests’.
"Not only do I share the opinion of some players that this is not the time to provoke a schism, but I also cannot help but see a point of selfishness when some want to pursue only their own interests,” Toni added.
I have seen members of Novak Djokovic's team separated from each other: Toni Nadal
The COVID-19 pandemic has not been able to put a complete stop on tennis, but it has taken away one of the key features of the sport - the audience. Only a handful of people are allowed in the stands at the US Open, which mainly comprise of the three-member player teams on the site. Even they have to be seated at a distance from each other, making communication quite tedious.
Toni Nadal is not too pleased with this and used the example of Novak Djokovic’s team to highlight the lack of communication - which for him was unacceptable.
“In the images that television has given us, I have seen the members of Djokovic's team separated from each other, almost without the possibility of commenting on their own player's moves. And that is difficult for me to conceive,” said Toni.
That said, Toni also acknowledged that little had changed when it came to the very basis of the sport. Novak Djokovic, who was always the favorite to win the US Open, has continued to strengthen his claims by winning the recently concluded Cincinnati Masters.
“In pure tennis, however, little has changed. The current No. 1 won the Cincinnati tournament and is running as a great favorite for the US Open that begins now,” Toni added.Published 01 Sep 2020, 14:31 IST