Monday 28 May 2018

Djokovic hits back at 'greedy' claims

Djokovic: “Some of you have written a story that has been a little bit exaggerated.” Credit: AP Photo/Vincent Thian
Djokovic: “Some of you have written a story that has been a little bit exaggerated.” Credit: AP Photo/Vincent Thian

Simon Briggs

Novak Djokovic returned to the match court for the first time yesterday since last year's Wimbledon. It was a big moment for the tennis tour, yet the focus was more about his desire to reform the sport.

Djokovic disposed of Donald Young in the most untroubled manner, flicking the ball into gaps with a casual mastery that will have sent ripples of concern around the locker room at the Australian Open. For a first official match in six months, it was almost insolently brilliant. But it is Djokovic the politician who is dominating the news agenda.

Reports from his speech to the annual players' meeting on Friday - who did not include officials from the ATP, as Djokovic had asked them to leave the room - say that he was pushing for the formation of a new, player-only union. Yet that was not the impression that Djokovic himself wished to put across yesterday. "Some of you have written a story that has been a little bit exaggerated," Djokovic told reporters after his 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 thumping of Young.

"You've taken things out of context. I saw that you've portrayed me as someone who is very greedy, asks for more money and wants to boycott.

"I know that you guys are trying to take this forward several steps. Obviously you're talking about union, you're talking about boycott, you're talking about radical decisions so we can get financial compensations the way we deserve it. But there was no talk about that."

Several other players - including Kevin Anderson, the South African who works with Djokovic on the ATP player council - have suggested that his main motivation is to help lower-ranked players, especially those around the No 150 or 200 mark. But the tournaments Djokovic believes should be offering bigger payouts are the grand slams, because they are the richest events. And they only cater for players in or around the top 100.

Roger Federer also made his entry to the tournament. The champion was smoothness personified against Aljaz Bedene, needing only 1hr 39min to wrap up a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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