Tennis Today: Novak Djokovic bites back as Rafael Nadal tensions mount

Novak Djokovic performing

In Tennis Today, the top two male players in the world, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, continued to snipe at each other over off-court politics. 

What’s on the site
Kevin Palmer paid tribute to ‘the greatest sportsman Great Britain has ever produced’. It can only, of course, be Andy Murray.

Meanwhile, James Spencer took a close look at the Australian Open women’s draw to try to make sense of it all.

Australian Open results
Nearly a case of déjà vu for Simona Halep, but Naomi Osaka in cruise control
Smooth progress for Sloane Stephens, but no such luck for Kiki Bertens
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman made to battle for wins
Frances Tiafoe digs deep to stun Kevin Anderson at Australian Open
Roger Federer holds off gritty Dan Evans to reach third round

What’s in the news
Novak Djokovic has issued a lengthy reply to Rafael Nadal as tensions between the two show little signs of easing.

Nadal was upset at not being consulted before a Player Council vote on the future of ATP chief Chris Kermode.

Djokovic heads up the Player Council, and has now fully utilised his right of reply.

“First of all, we have to clear up the decision is not made, so… The decision has not been made and we still have time,” Djokovic said, as quoted by Metro.

“The representatives on the council, player board representatives, will talk with Roger, Rafa, anybody who is interested to have a discussion about this.

“Now, what is very important for everybody to understand is that Rafa has always been involved, no question about it.

“Whether he was part of the political structure, council or not, he always tries to contribute to the game. And I need to credit him for that.

“Not many players want to be involved. That’s the thing. That’s something that we as players council members are trying to evoke in players, more of an interesting, more of a willingness to be part of all of these discussions because it’s important.

“It’s not just about the president. It’s about the future of the sport

“I think in terms of communication between the players, it is much better than it was, say, five years ago.

“I’ve been now in council, this is my seventh or eighth year. It’s probably my fifth in a row.

“The last year and a half, there’s been quite a significant improvement in terms of communication between the players, which is great. That’s what we need.

“In the end of the day, our primary job is to play tennis, whereas everybody else has a different priority.

“They have more time to have meetings, to go through these particular subjects and information, filtering.

“For us, it’s an additional energy and effort. But I think, at least from my perspective, I do it because I care about the sport and I care about players.

“I want to be able to use my status to contribute to positive changes.

“No one is getting paid for this in the council. We are all doing it because we care about the sport, we care about each other. That’s all it is.”

One player Djokovic did insist he will seek out for discussions, though, is Roger Federer.

“We will speak,’ Djokovic said. “As I said, we didn’t have a chance to speak so far, but we’ll see each other here.

“If not here (at the Australian Open), then it’s going to be after that. We have each other’s numbers. Of course, in person is quite different.

“I’ve talked with Roger in the last six months several times, in Laver Cup, US Open, Rafa as well at US Open. I’m trying to create time for these things.

“They are not part of the council, but they are extremely important, essential, players in this kind of big decision making.”

What’s on social media
An Andy Murray tattoo

Alex De Minaur deemed the 10 year challenge insufficiently worthy of his time, so he started his own game instead…

The Mouratoglou tennis academy got more into the swing of things, though.
View this post on Instagram

#10YearChallenge – from Paris to the French Riviera 🙌

A post shared by Mouratoglou Tennis Academy 🎾 (@mouratoglou_tennis_academy) on

And Stefanos Tsitsipas got all deep while looking like he was about to release the must-have album of 2019.

What’s on TV
Australian Open
LIVE – Eurosport 1/2

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
BBC TV – highlights