Dominic Thiem has come under fire for refusing to contribute to a fund set up to assist lower-ranked players struggling financially because of the coronavirus lockdown.
None of us top players got anything handed to us, we all had to fight our way up. I don’t have the guarantee in any job that I will do well and earn lots of money... I don’t want to back down from my opinion that there are some players I don’t want to support. What I said came across as a bit strong. There’ll always be people, animals, organisations who need support much more urgently than probably every single athlete. Dominic Thiem
World No 1 Novak Djokovic outlined a proposal aimed at raising up to $4.5 million, primarily for players ranked outside the top 100, through which players would contribute incrementally based on their ranking, with the world’s top five players required to put in the most.
Thiem, the World No 3, said earlier this week that he was reluctant to contribute, calling into question the ‘professionalism’ of many lower-ranked players and adding he would rather donate money to more worthy causes.
“No tennis player is fighting to survive, even those who are much lower-ranked. None of them are going to starve,” Thiem told Austrian newspaper Krone. “I don’t really see why I should give such players money.
“I would rather give money to people or organisations that really need it.
“There are many, many players who don’t put the sport above everything else and don’t live in a professional manner,” the 26-year-old added.
“None of us top players got anything handed to us, we all had to fight our way up. I don’t have the guarantee in any job that I will do well and earn lots of money.”
Many players, such as Nick Kyrgios, has criticised the Austrian for his stance, saying on Instagram: “He still doesn’t understand the point. We at the top get paid far too much and there is not enough to go around.
“It’s about helping where we can, professional or unprofessional, put yourself in their shoes.”
Kyrgios, 25, may have earned a bad boy image throughout much of his career, but the world No 40 has shown to be a leader in times of crisis this year.
He led the Aces for Bushfire Relief initiative to raise funds for communities affected by the Australian fires at the start of the year and has been delivering food and essentials to people during the coronavirus pandemic.
Thiem, nevertheless, is sticking to his guns.
“There are just a few things that bother me about the whole thing,” Thiem told Sky Sport Austria.
“I don’t want to back down from my opinion that there are some players I don’t want to support.
“I’d much prefer it to be chosen by the players themselves because then those players who really need it and who really deserve it will benefit.
“What I said came across as a bit strong. I didn’t say it so strongly.
“There’ll always be people, animals, organisations who need support much more urgently than probably every single athlete.”
Thiem also updated fans over his return to training, which was sanctioned by the Austrian government last week, but he says it was tougher than he expected.
“I couldn’t believe what sore muscles I had the day after,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that a movement you’ve done practically all your life could cause so much pain the next day or the day after.”