Report: Novak Djokovic, Vasek Pospisil Leaving ATP to Start Players Association

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2020

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, returns a shot to Roberto Bautista Agut, of Spain, during the semifinals at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil have reportedly stepped down from positions with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) to form a new group called the Professional Tennis Players Association.

According to Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times, both Djokovic and American John Isner have left their ATP posts, and Pospisil announced Friday that he is vacating his post on the ATP player council:

Vasek Pospisil @VasekPospisil

My ATP Tour Player Council Resignation: https://t.co/NlFziU1797

In a document distributed to players that was acquired by the New York Times, the rationale behind the new group was explained: "The goal of the PTPA is not to replace the ATP, but to provide players with a self-governance structure that is independent from the ATP and is directly responsive to player-members' needs and concerns."

Djokovic and Pospisil reportedly plan to serve as co-presidents of the PTPA initially with a two-year term each, and the association intends to represent the top 500 men's singles players and top 200 men's doubles players.

It isn't yet known if the PTPA is an official union that will attempt to collectively bargain like in other major professional sports, but it is meant to give players more autonomy since the ATP represents both players and tournaments, while the PTPA will only represent players.

Per Rothenberg, the ATP has "urged players not to support" the PTPA.

As of now, there are no plans for female players to be represented by the PTPA despite support from many to merge the men's and women's tours. Female players are currently represented by the WTA, which is structured similarly to the ATP.

Milos Raonic, who is set to face Djokovic in the Western & Southern Open final Saturday, said he plans to join the PTPA and expects a "majority of players" to do the same, per Rothenberg.

The fact that the No. 1 player in the world in Djokovic is spearheading the PTPA bodes well for its long-term success, and getting other high-profile players like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the fold would lend even more credibility to the group.

The ATP was first formed in 1972, but it could be in jeopardy if Djokovic, Pospisil and Co. are able to get enough of the top male players in the world on board with the PTPA.