From Vasek Pospisil’s on-court explosion to John Isner’s prize money complaints, the current ATP bubble environment is taking an increasing toll on players.
The latest volley in the war of words about how to run tennis in a pandemic has come from the manager of Dominic Thiem, Herwig Straka.
The Austrian who wears several hats in the sport – Vienna TD, ATP board member and agent for world No. 4 Thiem – has addressed the growing chorus of complaints.
The issue may be coming to a head at this week’s Miami Masters, which started without five of the ATP Top 10 and more than 30 of the Top 100 in the field.
Thiem, who is suffering with a small foot problem, is among the elites who opted not to bother with a trip to Florida and is preparing in Europe for the clay season start in Monte Carlo.
Straka said Thiem will not suffer by missing Miami, which is keeping competitors in a protective shell between hotel and a tournament venue set up in a stadium parking lot.
“The players know very well that they are privileged, but the fact is that a bubble is mentally insane,” Straka told Austria’s APA.
“The tone on social media has become rougher lately: the increasing aggressiveness in the postings has to do with the fact that everyone is dissatisfied with the bubble situation.”
Straka added: “At the end of the day Dominic is human. People have their moods, they are dependent on external circumstances”
“If it’s like in Australia, you go into quarantine for (two weeks) so that you then play in front of an audience, and then (you return to the hotel), that has an effect.”
Straka said that complaints about vastly reduced prize money – Miami’s ATP and WTA champions will lose USD 1 million each (300,000 from 1.35 million in 2019) – are useless.
“In these times of pandemics there is no more money, even if the players always believe that the tournaments earn so much money.”
Main photo:- Vienna TD and Dominic Thiem’s agent Herwig Straka