Tennis players united: Novak Djokovic to form new group

Djokovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova know the frustration of being unable to earn a decent living from the sports they love

Roger Federer is in a league of his own as the top male player. He is also close to launching a new independent group called the Fed Cup Federation to co-ordinate USTA coaching, fitness and coaching operations.

According to tennis sources, he wants to set up the Fed Cup Federation to cover his own expenses, and ensure Fed Cup USA ensures it has the financial wherewithal to compete with the likes of Team Europe.

Rafael Nadal is a savvy business man who negotiated a number of terms for his own tennis academy in Mallorca after persuading agents to remove his name as a shareholder in tennis management company IMG.

The aim was always for Nadal to gain a global, commercial player management business that could command fees from all the right corporate partners around the world.

It should come as no surprise then that there has been considerable interest in seeing Novak Djokovic sign up with Nadal as a global tennis player’s agent.

Djokovic is currently the biggest name left on the men’s tour after retiring during his quarter-final in Shanghai last week and heading straight home to return to the United States.

Novak Djokovic (left) with Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams

His elbow injury caused him to fall out of the top 10, so as a retired player he can no longer attend the ATP World Tour events. At 25, he could benefit greatly from a rest from tennis as he aims to regain his world number one ranking at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

It was announced on Thursday that Djokovic will join forces with former rivals Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova on the board of the new Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA).

The PTPA, which is based in Miami, will be able to fund new players as they enter the game.

It’s not an entirely new idea. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) created a Players’ Association to promote player rights after their main organisers, the WTA, withdrew their services in December 2012.

That idea was rejected, in favour of a legal framework for players who receive insurance from the ITF. It would be the players’ lawyer’s job to administer players’ rights.

The PTPA is different in that it will have a far greater participation from players and have power over players’ livelihoods.

Novak Djokovic was in fine form at Wimbledon last year

That idea has strong support. Former world number two Jelena Jankovic, as well as Jelena Ostapenko and Monica Puig, are members of the PTPA and have bought into the project. There is also a drive towards a basic principle of parity between men and women. The women’s WTA Tour and the men’s ATP have agreed to that.

Organisers of the ATP World Tour will be glad to know that veteran Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic is forming a new global players’ association.

Djokovic and the women’s No 1 Venus Williams have long backed the right of former tennis players to make a living playing tennis, arguing that to allow the ITF to continue to involve itself in players’ business would be to allow it to continue to do so.

Roger Federer has long supported this idea. He has now brought two of his three playing rivals with him, who have clearly been following the grass roots project of the Laver Cup and the ITF Players’ Association.

Roger Federer is the most successful player of all time

The new PTPA provides a fundraising base for career achievement awards, financial aid, career support and travel funding.

The major appeal of the new entity is the prize money that will be paid out from all the players’ earnings and endorsements. This will be in a form similar to the Tennis Boost Awards that are run on the women’s tour.

Currently, the only way that a retired men’s player can receive a reward is to benefit from a prize pot issued by the WTA or by a tournament during their stay as a participant.

To be 100% independent, the PTPA will also have a profit-sharing agreement with the tournaments it organises. In the case of the Women’s Tour, this involves 20% of the WTA prize money.

Eventually, the PTPA wants to develop similar terms to that governing the 10-year contract reached between the ITF and the Grand Slam tennis committees to award one player’s entitlement to 12,000 ranking points to the world’s leading men players.

Is it enough? Possibly not. Federer has set up a new company, playing management company Itaú B

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