An incensed Novak Djokovic has blamed “political games” for the ATP’s swift decision to ban him from running again for a place on the organisation’s Player Council after being re-nominated by his peers.
The world No. 1 who resigned his position as head of the advisory body this summer as he and Canadian Vasek Pospisil broke away to form the Professional Tennis Players Association, became the target of an emergency rule voted in to prevent anyone from holding two administrative positions in the sport.
While that seemed a bit rich given the massive conflicts of interest at all levels of the game, Djokovic took it on the chin.
He let his anger flow in the Serbian portion of his post-match media conference at the ATP Finals on Wednesday after losing in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev.
“These are political games that take place behind the scenes and you barely see anything written about it. What’s important to write is that Novak is a hypocrite,” he said in his national language as translated by Tennis Majors.
“I am used to it, it only strengthens my shield and it gives me even bigger motivation to do what is right for the sport and for the players.
“Up until last night I wanted to collaborate with ATP as one of the PTPA co-founders, but by promoting the new rule by which you cannot be a member of the Council and any other organization within the tennis system simultaneously they have sent a clear message what they think about all of it.”
Djokovic and Pospisil both resigned from the Player Council in August to form the PTPA, which drew signatures of support from many – but notably not icons Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The PTPA is hoping to give players a larger place at the table in the sport’s administration and is specifically focused on providing more playing – earning – opportunities for those in the lower ranks who have struggled financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entry-level events have been hit even harder than Tour tournaments with cancellations and cutbacks.
“This is just the beginning for PTPA,” the 33-year-old said.
“We have to see what our next strategic move will be, obviously we will need to have a bit different approach from now on. At least we know now where we stand at when it comes to ATP.
“I have tried to be available and to act proactively giving my ideas and suggestions with the sole purpose of making the tennis system a better place, particularly for lower-ranked players.
“But rarely anyone thinks about them – when people talk about tennis politics, they talk about the top 50-100 players.
“We have to pay attention to all the other players that are suffering big time, they constantly criticize the tennis system as they have a lot of problems.”