Djokovic and Top Men’s Players Are Creating a Players Association

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“There will be a lot of work building and perfecting the operations of this association, but this is the first and most pivotal step that we must take,” Pospisil, who has been consulting with the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, wrote in his message to players. He added, “Our voices will finally be heard and we will soon have an impact on decisions that affect our lives and livelihoods.”

Gaudenzi, in a letter to players that was obtained by The Times, urged the athletes “not to take lightly” the ramifications of starting a new association while acknowledging that “no organizational structure is perfect.”

Gaudenzi framed the formation of a competing player organization as an existential threat to the ATP, and said the group should not expect to be recognized by the tournaments. He argued that the action could threaten the power players already have within the sport.

“You have what other athletes in other sports would strive for — a seat at the boardroom table. That is what players fought for in the creation of the ATP Tour,” Gaudenzi said. “It makes no sense why you would be better served by shifting your role from the inside to the outside of the governance structure.”

Milos Raonic, who won on Friday to reach the final of the Western & Southern Open, which is being held in Queens at the same site as the United States Open next week, said he planned to sign up for the association, and expected a majority of players to join him. Raonic said that players were unhappy with the communication and leadership of Gaudenzi and other executives during the tour’s pandemic hiatus.

“Players have had plenty of time to think and reflect and take a look at certain parts which they may not be happy with and discuss,” Raonic said. He added: “I voiced my opinion on many things, such as other sports, executives in other sports taking pay cuts to support us. As tennis players, we weren’t making a dime for months and months.”

Gaudenzi closed his plea to players by asking for unity.

“We should not forget that, as an entertainment product, our competition for audiences and long-term growth is with other sports and forms of entertainment,” he wrote. “Our battle is not with each other. Now, more than ever, is the time for unity and collaboration.”

Christopher Clarey contributed reporting.

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