Murray won’t back Djokovic-led men’s union plan

Tennis

Former US Open champion Andy Murray, well-known for his support for gender equality in various aspects of the game, said Saturday at the National Tennis Center that he would not be signing on to support a rebel ATP faction led by top-ranked Novak Djokovic and journeyman Vasek Pospisil.

“I’m not totally against a player union, player association, but right now there’s a couple of things,” Murray said during his media day news conference for the US Open, which begins on Monday.

“One is, I feel like the current management that are in place should be given some time to implement their vision,” Murray said, referring to the new leadership that took over at the helm of the ATP Tour at the end of 2019.

He added, “The fact that the women aren’t part of it, I feel like [restructuring] would send a much more powerful message if the WTA were on board with it, as well. That’s not currently the case.”

Murray’s mother, Judy, who introduced him to tennis and developed his game, is a familiar fixture on the pro tour and in tennis-related social media. Murray was coached at one period in his pro career by French former Grand Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo. He has frequently spoken up for women’s rights.

The plan announced by Djokovic and Pospisil in a recent email to ATP players calls for the creation of an entity, the Professional Tennis Players Association, to better represent the interests of the players. Djokovic and Pospisil are scheduled to make their pitch to their fellow ATP players during their customary pre-Grand Slam player meeting, This year, the meeting will be virtual.

The ATP responded swiftly when the contents of the email were published, defending the partnership-based style of management that the players themselves chose after a revolt in 1988. That model has run the ATP Tour since.

Neither Roger Federer nor Rafael Nadal have thrown their support behind Djokovic and Pospisil. They, and other top players, support the ATP Tour status quo. The organization has enjoyed great growth in recent years, doubling prize money in the five years between 2014 and the end of 2019. Early this year the ATP Tour installed former ATP pro Andrea Gaudenzi at its new chairman following a purge of the old leadership.

Murray also said he would like to to see the players get a greater share of Grand Slam revenues.

“My understanding right now is that the prize money split towards the players, in the tournaments outside of the Grand Slams, is at a level that the players should be comfortable with,” Murray said, adding that the 16% to 18% share of the pot that goes to players could be improved. “I think I speak for all of the players, that we feel like we are worth more than that to the event.”

Murray also acknowledged that the ATP and WTA are always going to have some different goals and needs, but, he added, “A little bit more unity I think would be a positive thing between the ATP and the WTA.”

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