Pospisil and different gamers suppose the A.T.P. tournaments are additionally shortchanging them. However Andrea Gaudenzi, who changed Kermode because the A.T.P.’s chairman, disputes that. He advised me that whereas the Masters 1000 occasions do properly, a lot of the different tournaments on the A.T.P. Tour earn solely modest income, if that, a state of affairs made worse by the pandemic. And he factors out that prize cash is only one a part of compensation. Gamers obtain free meals and lodging at A.T.P. occasions, and the group provides a beneficiant pension plan. As well as, high-ranked gamers are sometimes paid hefty look charges by tournaments. The tour has $140 million in complete prize cash, and Gaudenzi insists that this, for the second, is the most effective the A.T.P. can do. “The lemon has been squeezed dry,” he says.
Gaudenzi is pushing to extend tennis’s revenues over the long run — by, amongst different issues, forging nearer cooperation between the boys’s and ladies’s excursions and bundling media rights for the entire massive tournaments. He says this can finally assist lower-ranked gamers. “Whether or not you progress the share of cash from left to proper, it doesn’t actually develop the pie,” Gaudenzi says. “We wish to develop the pie. Whenever you develop the pie, you possibly can redistribute the cash in a extra equitable and truthful method.” However his plan is predicated on some questionable assumptions. It appears reasonably unlikely, as an example, that the majors would comply with pool their tv rights with the 2 excursions. Past that, Gaudenzi is implicitly asking present gamers to simply accept the established order, which is unacceptable to lots of them. As Pospisil places it, “Why can’t we additionally negotiate in parallel one thing that’s truthful for the gamers now?”
Along with his victory on the French Open in June, Novak Djokovic claimed his nineteenth grand-slam singles title. If he wins Wimbledon, the place he’s the defending champion and favourite, he’ll draw even with Federer and Nadal, who’re at present tied with 20. Courting again to Federer’s maiden Wimbledon title, in 2003, the three males have mixed to win 59 of the final 71 majors. It’s price observing that profitable only one main remains to be a reasonably spectacular achievement and that capturing two all however ensures a spot within the Worldwide Tennis Corridor of Fame. What Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have achieved nearly defies superlatives. And, after all, Serena Williams is the winningest champion of this period, with 23 grand-slam singles crowns.
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have additional distinguished themselves with their deep involvement in tennis politics. The celebs of the Sixties and early ’70s, like Arthur Ashe, have been very lively politically, however they have been attempting to revolutionize the sport. As the cash in tennis exploded, high gamers tended to concentrate on their careers. The Massive Three are throwbacks to that earlier period. Federer was president of the A.T.P. participant council from 2008 to 2014, and Nadal was on the council for 4 of these years. Djokovic was elected president in 2016. Now that they’re approaching the ends of their careers, they appear decided to wield as a lot affect over how the sport is run as they’ve over how it’s performed, making for an additional battleground of their rivalry.
The primary signal of discord got here two years in the past, when Djokovic was a part of the faction that ousted Kermode from his A.T.P. chairmanship. Federer and Nadal opposed the move, and shortly thereafter rejoined the participant council, which was nonetheless led by Djokovic. By all accounts, the ambiance at conferences was cordial, however the three males have been guided by very completely different impulses. Federer and Nadal have been institutionalists by nature, supportive of the A.T.P. and customarily happy with how tennis operated. Djokovic, however, believed that drastic reform was wanted, beginning with unbiased illustration for the gamers.
Even so, with Federer and Nadal again on the council and the query of prize cash as soon as once more roiling the tour, it was thought that the Massive Three would possibly reprise the function they performed in 2012 and 2013 and minimize one other cope with the majors. Once I requested Pospisil what he thought of that, he advised me that he favored something that might get the gamers a fairer share. However he went on to say that negotiating prize cash was finest left to legal professionals, and that tennis must get away from advert hoc, back-room deal making. He additionally questioned whether or not Federer could be prepared to take a tough line with the majors. He famous that the Swiss star and his administration firm have been behind the Laver Cup, an annual group competitors. Tennis Australia, which runs the Australian Open, and the usT.A. have been each traders within the occasion, which meant that Federer was now in enterprise with two of the 4 majors. Pospisil insisted that he wasn’t questioning Federer’s integrity — “I’ve superb respect for Roger, each as a participant and a human being” — however stated the gamers wanted an advocate unambiguously on their facet. “We can not have anybody negotiating prize cash on behalf of the gamers who has a battle of curiosity,” he stated. (Federer didn’t reply to a request for remark.)
At any charge, no matter hope there was that the Massive Three would forge a united entrance was dashed when Djokovic and Pospisil introduced the formation of the P.T.P.A. on the eve of final 12 months’s U.S. Open. “The Skilled Tennis Gamers Affiliation (P.T.P.A.) didn’t emerge to be combative, to disrupt or to trigger any points inside or exterior the tennis tour,” Pospisil tweeted. “Merely to unify the gamers, have our voices heard & have an effect on resolution being made that impact [sic] our lives and livelihoods.” To mark the event, Pospisil and Djokovic, together with practically 100 different gamers, gathered on a court docket on the Nationwide Tennis Heart for a bunch picture. The majors, along with the A.T.P. and W.T.A., launched an announcement condemning the transfer. “It’s a time for even larger collaboration, not division,” they stated. The identical day, Federer and Nadal circulated a letter, signed by them and several other others on the participant council, that stated, “We’re towards this proposal as we don’t see how this really advantages the gamers and it places our lives on Tour and safety in main doubt.” By that time, Djokovic and Pospisil had each resigned from the council.