Djokovic, Pospisil could lead new men’s tennis group

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

NEW YORK — No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic and former top-30 member Vasek Pospisil would be the co-presidents of a new group they are trying to set up to represent men’s professional tennis players.

A letter emailed to players — and obtained by The Associated Press on Friday — pushes the formation of a Professional Tennis Players Association, abbreviated PTPA.

Sent around shortly before Monday’s start of the U.S. Open, the letter says its objective is “to solicit support from players to form an association with a mandate to promote, protect and represent the interests of its players … and protect the future of tennis.”

Tennis players never have had a union the way North American team sports do. Each player is considered an independent contractor.

“Unlike many other professional sports, men’s professional tennis has never had a representative body that is represented for players by players,” the email said.

The men’s tennis tour is organized by the ATP; the women’s tennis tour is run by the WTA. Djokovic is the president of the ATP Player Council and Pospisil has been a member for two years, but he tweeted Friday night that he was resigning.

“It has become clear that, as a player council member within the current structure of the ATP, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to have any significant impact on any major decisions made by our tour,” Pospisil wrote.

There was talk earlier this year, prompted largely by tweets from 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, about the possibility of merging the men’s and women’s tours.

This proposal would set up something just for men ranked in the top 500 in singles and top 200 in doubles.

“The goal of the PTPA is not to replace the ATP but to provide players with a self-governance structure that is independent from the ATP and is directly responsive to player-members’ needs and concerns,” the email said.

The letter said the PTPA would be governed by board of trustees with up to nine members, elected annually.

The trustees would appoint two co-presidents with two-year terms — and that first leadership duo would be Djokovic, a 33-year-old from Serbia who owns 17 Grand Slam singles trophies, and Pospisil, a 30-year-old from Canada who won the 2014 Wimbledon doubles title and is currently No. 92 in singles.

Among the areas the PTPA would look into, according to the email: ATP and tournament rules and regulations, revenue sharing, disciplinary actions, pensions, travel, on-site food and amenities, insurance and medical care.

There would be a dues structure with players paying an amount based on their ranking — from a high in singles of $1,500 for those from 1-50 down to $75 for those in spots 401-500, and a high in doubles of $1,000 for those 1-30.

The total fees listed in the letter would bring in $317,500 each year.

The email asks players to sign a letter backing the PTPA, and says “if a significant number of players support this initiative we will move forward” with writing bylaws and proposing a board of trustees.

At least one player is on the record as saying he’ll sign on: 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic.

“Players have had plenty of time to think and reflect and take a look at certain parts which they may not be happy with and discuss,” Raonic said Friday after reaching the Western & Southern Open final.

“A lot of us were kept in the dark by our leadership for six months. We were disappointed with many things. I voiced my opinion on many things, such as … executives in other sports taking pay cuts to support us. As tennis players, we weren’t making a dime for months and months. … Lower guys weren’t making a dime,” Raonic said. “But our executives were staying home and didn’t feel it necessary to take any pay cuts. I pushed for that on every single phone call we had.”

Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

Getty Images
0 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.