Novak Djokovic on Tuesday played down suggestions that he is pushing for an independent players union to fight for more prize money. The former world No 1 also denied reports that such a move could lead to players boycotting tournaments.
Responding to reports in the British media stating that Djokovic, as president of the ATP Tour’s player council, had raised the matter of prize money at a meeting in Melbourne, the Serb said, “That wasn’t a subject I raised, no.”
He added, “You’re talking about boycott, you’re talking about radical decisions to make and move so we can get financial compensations the way we deserve it. But there was no talks about that.”
The 12-time Grand Slam champion was reported to have questioned why Grand Slams only pay out about 7% of their income to the players, according to The Telegraph. Djokovic compared this to American basketball, where the payout is about 50%, the report added.
Britain’s The Times newspaper reported that any new player union would break away from the current one under the ATP, which jointly represents the interests of both the players and tournaments.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley reportedly outlined plans to boost prize money at the opening Grand Slam of the year from $55 million to $100 million over the next five years.
Djokovic said “everybody’s trying to do their best” when asked about players getting a bigger share of Grand Slam revenues. “I mean, we are here at the Australian Open, and they always try to compensate the players in a best possible way,” he said. “Things are going in the right direction.”
He added that while he was ATP player council president, he does not sit on the negotiation tables.
“Obviously before you get anything to be voted on the board, it has to go through council. It’s not only me that makes some calls, far from that.
“I’m just glad that I’m part of it, that I can contribute to a better sport today, and the future. Hopefully the next generation will even have a better sport.”
Kevin Anderson, who is vice-president of the ATP player council, was quoted as saying, “I think there’s a big case to be made as far as percentage goes.
“If you see an NBA player or an NFL player you think seven figures in their bank account and I don’t think that’s the case even for some players who make the main draw at Grand Slams.”
Maria Sharapova also said, “I do believe that the players will ultimately earn more.”
With inputs from AFP