Novak Djokovic has “reached out” to Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal in a bid to get the support of his fellow superstars for his proposed Professional Tennis Players’ Association.
I respect, of course, completely their choice that they don't want to be involved in it at the moment. They don't think it's the right time. That's fine. That's their opinion. I disagree with that. I think it's kind of never a right time and it's always a right time, right? Novak Djokovic
Federer and Nadal, both absent from the current US Open, have not backed the project – a players’ union body separate to the ATP – which was supported by 60 players at a get together in New York on Saturday.
World No.1 Djokovic, a winner of 17 Grand Slams, two down on Nadal and three on record-holder Federer, said: “I have reached out to them. We have spoken about this project several times in the past actually.
“I have reached out to them before we made it official, before we gathered with all the players on the Grandstand, I think it was last Saturday. They were very much aware of what is going to happen.
“I respect, of course, completely their choice that they don’t want to be involved in it at the moment. They don’t think it’s the right time. That’s fine. That’s their opinion. I disagree with that. I think it’s kind of never a right time and it’s always a right time, right?
“For a players’ association, it’s always the right time, and it has been the right time for the last 20 years.
“Somehow it was never really accomplished, never really realised. Right now it is. We are moving forward.”
Djokovic resigned his role as president of the ATP Players’ Council last week, with members Vasek Pospisil, John Isner and Sam Querrey joining him in his attempts to form the PTPA.
And he admitted the issue has been a distraction in his bid for Slam number 18 in the Big Apple.
The Serb, 33, said: “It’s not easy for me obviously dealing with all that in the midst of the tournament.
“We are happy that there is every single day more and more players signing in. The next step after the U.S. Open is creating a structure legally … the bylaws and everything to follow.”
The Serbian has described the PTPA as a platform for players to be better heard on decisions that affect their livelihoods, but the move has faced resistance from player council members Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.
Tennis’ controlling bodies, the ATP, WTA, ITF and the Slam boards have called for “unity” with the sport as they deal with the corona virus pandemic.
Alexander Zverev, the world No.7, has praised Djokovic for his part in the issue.
The German said: “I haven’t signed the paper. (to become part of the PTPA). But I think it’s a great thing that players do want to come together.
“He’s (Djokovic) a world No. 1. He has made enough money. He doesn’t need to worry about that. He doesn’t need to worry about anything, but he does. He does worry about the well-being of other players … about the health of our sport.”
* quotes from the Daily Mirror and Reuters.