World No.3 Dominic Thiem caused uproar within the tennis community when he claimed he wasn’t willing to donate to the player relief fund and the Austrian has once again hit back at his critics.
Thiem, who lost in a five-set epic to Novak Djokovic in the 2020 Australian Open final, stunned the tennis world with his fervent rejection of the Player Relief fund.
Tennis is one of hardest hit global sports hit during the coronavirus pandemic and the fund - coordinated by ATP Players President Djokovic - was aimed at helping those less fortunate in the code.
But Thiem was quick to shut down the idea and said he shouldn’t have to share his wealth with lower-ranked players struggling because of the shutdown of the sport.
Thiem was also heavily criticised for his reluctance to want to share his wealth and was reminded by many players he once came from the same position as them.
But the Next Gen star has again doubled down on his stance.
Thiem claimed he was helping out players individually before the coronavirus pandemic and never asked for plaudits.
But he was also adamant he shouldn’t have to divulge who he shares money with and it should be kept private.
"I don't really want to clarify anything, I stand by what I said. The problem was that a headline was taken out, there was a shortening. I said from the start that a lot of players are worthy of support,” he said to Der Standard.
"I want to decide for myself who I help. I supported players long before Corona, but I don't give names,” he added.
‘Cannot correct this imbalance’: Thiem
Thiem said he gives money to various organisations, which help animal welfare or the climate, which in his view are great initiatives.
But he also claimed tennis was very different to a sport like football, where the accumulative wealth from around the world helps players to still be paid during this crisis.
“It is clear that the very best earn really well, that is the case in many sports. But the people who stand between one hundred and three hundred are incredibly strong players,” he added.
“It is extremely difficult to win a Challenger tournament. It cannot be that you win and make a minus. Because you took a trainer with you and you have to pay him. A lot is going wrong. But Thiem should not and cannot correct this imbalance, but must change associations, organisers and officials.”
Thiem comes out swinging over relief fund
In an interview with Austria's Krone newspaper, Thiem was asked about April’s announcement by world number one Djokovic that he was working with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to organise aid for players struggling with the paralysis of the game due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Quite honestly I have to say that no tennis player will be fighting to survive, even those who are much lower-ranked," Thiem said, adding: "None of them are going to starve."
He said that his experience competing on the sport's Futures circuit had shown him that there are "many, many players who don't put the sport above everything else and don't live in a professional manner."
"I wouldn't really see why I should give such players money," he went on.
"I would rather give money to people or organisations that really need it," Thiem said.