India's top tennis stars Rohan Bopanna and Sumit Nagal joined the Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil-led Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) in the early hours of Sunday, as they signed the document to join the new association that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have openly objected to.
Saturday was a tumultous day on the ATP tour as Djokovic and Pospisil sought to create a separate players' representation body by detaching themselves from the ATP Players Council. In an e-mail to the players, they sought support to form the body and said that the "PTPA is needed to promote, protect and represent the interests of its players … and protect the future of tennis."
Djokovic posted a photograph that had a total of 64 players on the tennis court to announce the formation of the association that the Serb called "the first player only association in tennis since 1972."
Apart from Djokovic and Pospisil, Bopanna and Nagal were a part of the 64. The other who were recognised in the picture are Casper Ruud, Diego Schwartzman, Matteo Berrettini, Oliver Marach, R Harrison, C Harrison, Ivo Karlovic, Nikola Mektic, Andrej Martin, Frank Skugor, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, Mate Pavic, Ivan Dodig, Hugo Dellien, Guido Pella, Aljaz Bedene, Filip Krajinovic, Damir Dzumhur, Taylor Fritz, Hubert Hurkacz, Cristian Garin, Jozef Kovalik, Leonardo Mayer, Taro Daniel, Marton Fucsovics, Corentin Moutet, Tommy Paul, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
"It's just that as players to have our voices heard, which unfortunately was not happening at all for a long time," Bopanna told News18.com about the reason he chose to join PTPA. Nagal is yet to respond to requests for a comment.
Following the formation of the association, they released a statement which said, "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 directly responsive to player-members' needs and concerns. Its not to be combative, to disrupt or cause any issue within or outside the tennis tour. Purely to unify the players, have our voices heard and have an impact on decisions being made that that effect our livelihoods. Its as simple as that and nothing more to it."
Following his Western & Southern Open win, Djokovic also said, "We are not calling for boycotts. We are not forming parallel tours. Of course I would love to have Roger and Rafa on board. Of course I would love to have all the players on board. But I understand. I truly understand that some of them have different opinions and they don't think the time is right."
Earlier, soon after Djokovic and Pospisil's mail, the ATP men's tour and the sports other governing bodies, including the WTA women's tour and the four Grand Slam tournaments issued a joint statement saying: "It is a time for even greater collaboration, not division."
Then two of tennis' biggest names Federer and Nadal, along with Kevin Anderson, Jurgen Melzer, Sam Querrey and Bruno Soares, sent a note to the players raising questions about the proposal and expressed their objection to it.
They said, " We are not against the Players. We are not against a united player approach. We are all for the Players but not to risk it all down this path with such little information. We are against this proposal as we do not see how this actually benefits the players and it puts our lives on Tour and security in major doubt."
From the other side of the net .... pic.twitter.com/qomnM8ciFk
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) August 29, 2020
Dan Evans, even though wasn't part of the note, said he won't be signing the paper to join PTPA. "I do know the reasoning. I think now is probably horrible timing to be talking about that sort of thing. For what it’s worth I think the ATP do a great job for us. I won’t be signing whatever it is, the sheet of paper, they want," he said.
Andy Murray also said he won't be signing on Sunday adding, "Having a group representing men and women would send a much more powerful message."