Novak Djokovic backs his friend Vasek Pospisil as tensions rise with ATP chiefs
World No.1 Novak Djokovic has leapt to the defence of Vasek Pospisil after his foul-mouth on-court rant against the ATP hit the headlines at the Miami Open.
Pospisil’s frustrations with the ATP got the better of him during his Miami Open first-round match as he launched a foul-mouthed rant against chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.
The Canadian took on Mackenzie McDonald from the United States on Wednesday and his tantrum started late in the first set as he angrily smashed a ball out of the court, smashed his racket and started shouting at chair umpire Arnaud Gabas.
He was handed verbal abuse penalty point on set point and it resulted in him losing the opening set 3-6.
During the changeover the world No 67 vented to umpire Gabas, shouting: “For an hour-and-a-half yesterday, chair of the ATP f****** screaming at me in a player meeting for trying to unite the players.
“For an hour and a half. The leader of the ATP. Get him out here. f****** a***h***. Why am I supporting this?”
Pospisil later apologised for his words in a lengthy tweet, as he appeared to backtrack on his on-court statements:
I underestimated the toll those emotions took on me until I stepped onto the court today. Again, I am sorry for my on-court behavior and the language I used. #players [2/2]
— Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) March 25, 2021
Yet the Canadian has plenty of support in what is becoming a rising tide of discontent from top players towards the ATP, with Djokovic now adding his support to Pospisil.
Djokovic and Pospisil close friends as they started the PTPA last year – an independent players’ union, with ATP chiefs clear in their stance that they will not allow anyone associated with that organisation to be present on the ATP Players’ council.
There have been rumours of a breakaway tour lead by Djokovic and he has stated his support to Pospisil in a week when he opted not to play at the Miami Open.
Concerning matters at hand, I am not in Miami. However Vasek Pospišil is my good friend and I empathize with him wholeheartedly. Players on tour would agree that he is an individual of the highest integrity who cares about the well being of his fellow competitors. 1/2
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) March 26, 2021
Djokovic ended his message with the comment: I am hopeful players recognize the importance of standing together #playersvoice
This ongoing battle between a collection of high profile players at the ATP has the potential to develop into a significant split in the game with Djokovic and Pospisil clearly united in their belief that the ATP could be running the game more professionally.
The PTPA insisted that they hoped to co-exist with the Player Council to fight for players, but with the door slammed to their participation in the running of the game by the ATP, this is a story that has the potential to explode soon.
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