(Reuters) – Former world number one Andy Murray says he is not in favour of a breakaway players’ group led by Novak Djokovic and has urged fellow athletes to give the governing body more time to tackle their concerns.
Top-ranked Djokovic, Canadian Vasek Pospisil and American John Isner resigned from the players’ council of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) after other members formally asked them to step down.
The move has provoked resistance from the two most successful players in men’s tennis, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, who are also part of the players’ council, while the sport’s world governing bodies have urged unity.
“I won’t be signing it today,” three-times Grand Slam winner Murray said ahead of the U.S. Open.
“I’m not totally against a player union, player association, but right now there’s a couple of things: One is I feel like the current management that are in place should be given some time to implement their vision,” the Briton told reporters.
“Whether that works out, or not, would potentially influence me in the future as to which way I would go.”
Djokovic posted on social media with a picture of more than 60 players on court at the U.S. Open venue.
“We are excited to announce the beginning of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), the first player-only association in tennis since 1972,” Djokovic wrote.
Djokovic has said their intention was not to disrupt the existing ATP tour but offer a platform for players to be better heard on decisions that affect their livelihoods.
The ATP governs the men’s professional tour and former Italian player Andrea Gaudenzi took over as chairman in January for a four-year term.
Murray also opposed the PTPA on the grounds that it is a body only for male athletes, since he believed a combined entity with women players would send “a much more powerful message”.
Australian Todd Woodbridge, a nine-times Wimbledon doubles champion and singles semi-finalist, slammed the timing of the move, with the ATP Tour circuit having only returned last week after a six-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Let me just start by saying this is tone deaf by the group that have decided to break away,” Woodbridge told Australia’s Nine media, also raising questions about the exclusion of women from the PTPA.
“This is the first week back and they throw this sort of bomb out there? I’m pretty disappointed with the way that they’ve gone with that timing.”
Belgian Kim Clijsters, a four-times Grand Slam singles winner, felt the women’s WTA tour has been “very well run over the years” but there was always room for improvement.
Greek world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas said; “I haven’t been involved at all, like zero. I have nothing to do with this. I don’t even know what they’re talking about.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Ed Osmond)