The ATP Player Council member weighs in on the biggest topics affecting tennis and calls for praise for Novak Djokovic's work on behalf of lower-ranked players. “Tennis needs major change,” says Vasek Pospisil, longtime member of the ATP Player Council and current World No. 93. “It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s until I opened my eyes to how many issues there were in tennis. I felt like ‘Why aren’t we able to change anything as players. We have so much leverage if we actually decided to get organized and use it, because without the players there is no tennis tour.”
Pospisil joined Mark Masters and Rick Westhead on “Tennis In Depth,” a video program sponsored by TSN, to engage in interesting discussion that centers around his work with the council and his familiarity with the games biggest stars on an intimate level.
Insight from @VasekPospisil on …
* Why it'll be tough for tennis to return in 2020
* Response to ATP-WTA merger critics like Kyrgios
* Big 3 dynamic on Council
* Economic shake-up needed to help lower-ranked guys
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) May 5, 2020
Pospisil, a Canadian who has long been an advocate of player’s holding more sway in the biggest discussions and decisions facing the sport, says that the players need to unite and find their collective voice in order to make a significant impact and claim a greater stake in the game’s financial future.
“Step one is actually being unified and step two is really digging in and finding out what needs to be changed," he said.
The formation of a player's union, or something similar, would be a big step. But not an easy one to make. Pospisil said he spent a lot of time looking into the possibilities last year, and even drummed up 80 percent of the signatures of players inside the Top 100 with the support of Djokovic. But the push to unionize had its progress slowed when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal expressed their desire to engage in talks with the majors instead of forming their own entity across the table from them.
"It's a shame, to be honest," Pospisil said. "I've had some great talks with Roger, I like him a lot he's a great guy. … He agrees with a lot of the issues but ultimately didn't get behind the actual movement."
There are other hurdles to a union for tennis players as well.
"Tennis is extremely international,” Pospisil says, “So I know unionizing players in a sport like tennis is not so easy because suddenly you have all these conflicting labor laws from different countries… it’s a very tricky, difficult scenario.”
Pospisil engaged in some thoughtful conversations about topics ranging from the proposed WTA/ATP merger, prize money distribution, player relief for lower-ranked players and how the big stars of the game impact and influence these conversations. He even gave his thoughts on Nick Kyrgios‘ stance against a proposed WTA/ATP merger.
Pospisil was asked: “What’s the conversation with players like Nick Kyrgios, who don’t support the concept of a merger?”
“A lot of players, or people in general, express an opinion without having any information, just because they feel like they want to say something, so I think that might be the case with Nick,” Pospisil said. “To be honest he’s in no position to express an opinion when he just hears about this for the first time and has done zero due diligence. So there are some guys like that and I’ll have no problem telling him that to his face, but again it raises eyebrows, and there are a lot of valid questions that need to be asked and answered, which I have. My message to the people that are against it or not, especially on the tour and tennis players is just that you need to have a little bit more information before you can kind of come to your viewpoint.”
Pospisil added that he was extremely impressed with Novak Djokovic because of the work he has done as the president of the council on behalf for lower-ranked players.
“I’ve been really impressed with Novak, how much he cares for all the players,” said Pospisil. “Even the lower-ranked guys. I don’t know if it is because of where he came from or how he grew up. I know that his family went through tough times when he was a kid, he really cares for all the players and the lower-ranked guys and so I give him so much respect and credit for trying to actually affect positive change.”