Novak Djokovic, PTPA want change – ‘1.3 billion people watch tennis, but only 400-500 make a living’

Novak Djokovic speaks to the media

Novak Djokovic has implored tennis to create a better system to help lower-ranked players to make a living from the sport and he hopes the Professional Tennis Players’ Association (PTPA) will lead the way through unity.

The PTPA was established in 2020 in controversial fashion as Djokovic, John Isner, Vasek Pospisil and Sam Querrey announced on the eve of the US Open that they would step down from their roles on the ATP Player Council as they have set up the new association.

The move did not go down well with ATP bosses while big-name players like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray revealed that they would not join the PTPA as they felt it was dividing the sport.

Despite criticism, the PTPA has forged ahead insisting that player welfare and making sure that those at the bottom earn a living wage are top priorities.

22-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic was asked about the PTPA after his win over Tallon Griekspoor at the Dubai Tennis Championships and replied: “We have thousands, tens of thousands of players that are competing around the world. Unfortunately only 400 to 500, both men and women, singles, doubles, mixed, live from this sport.

“That’s something that I feel like not many people want to talk about, but I feel like it’s super important to always remind ourselves that we are, by some statistics, third or fourth most globally watched sports.

“1.3 billion people watch it, yet we can’t have more than 400 people living from this sport, both men and women. I think we have to put that in our mind and really think about whether this sport is doing great or not.”

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The association announced its first-ever executive committee in January and Djokovic, Isner, Ons Jabeur and Paula Badosa are among eight players who form part of the group.

The perception about the PTPA appears to be changing on both the ATP and WTA Tours and Djokovic says they want to unite players.

“Divisions are definitely not something that PTPA stands for. We actually want to unite, we want to represent more the voices of the players that are normally not heard, that you normally don’t get a chance to speak to or see them,” he said.

“We have to do a better job, we have to create a better system for them (lower-ranked players) to make a living, at least break even. I think if you’re 200 in the world, you can’t travel with a coach. This is not good enough.”