'Kick in the butt': Aussie’s major gripe with Novak Djokovic breakaway

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Pictured here, Novak Djokovic performs his customary post-match celebration.
Novak Djokovic has faced plenty of opposition over his new breakaway organisation. Pic: AAP

Australia’s John Millman has spoken out against Novak Djokovic’s breakaway players’ body, insisting ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi should have been given more time to put his stamp on the sport.

Millman believes Gaudenzi has copped "the rough end of the stick" in the political war being waged in tennis at the behest of the men’s world No.1.

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The tennis world descended into chaos on the eve of the US Open after Djokovic helped lead a breakaway players association, which both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer publicly opposed.

Aussie tennis great Todd Woodbridge and British legend Andy Murray were among other leading voices in tennis to criticise Djokovic's breakaway group, pointing out that it lacked female representation.

The Serbian superstar resigned from the presidency of the ATP players' council to help form the PTPA (Professional Tennis Players Association).

Millman insists he doesn't favour either side but feels Djokovic’s power play, along with other PTPA members Vasek Pospisil and John Isner, is unfair on Gaudenzi.

Djokovic has described the PTPA as a platform for players to be better heard on decisions that affect their livelihoods, but the move has provoked resistance from council members Federer and Nadal.

"There's been probably rumblings for a while that they wanted to have some kind of association for a year or two now," Millman said from the US Open in New York.

"Look, I didn't sign up to it. I'd like to know more information but I'd also like to think that Gaudenzi should be offered the chance to implement his vision.

"He's been given a bit of a rough end of the stick because he got in at the start of the year, we've had five-and-a-half months of COVID and I just feel he should be given just a little bit more time."

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) was set up by players in 1972 to represent the men's athletes but its board now includes representatives of tournament owners as well.

John Millman is seen here in action at the 2020 US Open.
John Millman says the ATP chairman has been hard done by after the formation of Djokovic's new tennis body. Pic: Getty

Calls for unity amid ugly tennis split

Besides the ATP and the women's WTA, the sport is also controlled by the International Tennis Federation and the boards of the four grand slams.

In response to the formation of the PTPA, the governing bodies issued a joint statement calling for the unity at a time when the sport has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with Federer, Nadal and now Millman echoing the sentiments.

"We could be on the same team even though they have got the association and the ATP," said the Australian No.3.

"We could work together and I do feel we should be giving Gaudenzi time to implement his vision.

"I know he has a big vision, I know he's got big plans.

"There are things the ATP could be doing better and I think they have definitely identified that and maybe this is a kick in the butt, as we say in Australia."

But Millman, a former ATP players' council representative, understands why Djokovic established the breakaway group.

"As far as I'm aware, they feel as if making this players' association was necessary for them to get the positive change that they want," he said.

"That's probably where they're coming from. I think the intentions are fine, I just hope that we can all work together to create a really good product."

with Yahoo Sport staff