Novak Djokovic calls for change as tennis rocked by 'rumours' before Australian Open

The World No.1 has seemingly thrown his support behind the introduction of a rebel tennis tour, insisting the sport must innovate.

Pictured Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic has thrown his support behind the introduction of a rebel tennis tour insisting the sport must innovate. Image: Getty

Novak Djokovic has called for tennis to innovate, seemingly throwing his support behind a potential rebel tour. Rumours are growing that a LIV Golf-style tennis tour could be launched as early as 2025, as a rival to the ATP and WTA tours.

The mammoth money that a Saudi-backed league could throw at the world's top tennis players could be hard to resist and while stating he is in the dark about the potential new league, the World No.1 is keen to hear more. "I'm generally always supportive of improving the sport," Djokovic said in Perth ahead of his United Cup appearance for Serbia.

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"I have said this many times before, that I think that tennis is not using its full potential. We are one of the most globally watched and popular sports in the world, but I think that we have been quite conservative and conventional in certain aspects and that unfortunately hasn't really been a great appeal to the younger audience.

"I'm a big supporter of our history and tradition and everything, I think we should always nurture that. But I think we need to try to adjust to the modern times and try to understand what the younger audience wants and really make tennis more appealing to that group. So that's in terms of general overview. And where I stand (on talk of a rebel tour), I have no idea what elite tour you're talking about. I have heard rumours as well, but it is, I guess, still early stages and we didn't see anything concrete out there."

Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts during the Semi-Final match against Italy in the Davis Cup Final at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 25, 2023 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic says he is in the dark about the Saudi-backed tennis league. Image: Getty

Jessica Pegula believes it is a matter of time until rebel tour launches

Women's world No.5 Jessica Pegula believes it's just a matter of time before a rebel tour is launched and says 'money talks'. "I think it's inevitable, to be honest," the American said. "There is a lot of talk. I feel like there has been for the past year or so.

"I feel like it's going to happen eventually, because money talks, and they have infinite amounts of money and they seem to be involved in every single sport in the world except for ours. So I'm sure ours is coming."

Taylor Fritz worries how a rebel tour would impact ability to play in grand slams

Taylor Fritz, however, is concerned about how signing for a LIV Golf-style tour could potentially impact the ability of the best players to take part in grand slams. The arrival of LIV golf caused mass controversy with many labelling its introduction as sports-washing, designed to cover up Saudi Arabia's appalling human rights record.

Players who joined the rebel golf tour were banned from the PGA and European Tours and were ineligible to receive ranking points, impacting their ability to play in events such as the Olympics. World No.10 Taylor Fritz wonders if the same thing will happen in tennis.

"If it happens, I think the biggest question mark is going to be if you compete on that tour, if you still are going to be able to play slams or not," Fritz said. "We'll see what happens. I can't really say if it's a good thing or not until you could see how they would structure the tour, how it would be I do think the way the tour is now there are lots of things that could be improved."

- with AAP

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