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'Not easy' during U.S. Open, but Djokovic moving forward with players body

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic is finding it tough to deal with issues related to his breakaway players body in the middle of the U.S. Open but the world number one says he is moving forward with it as more professionals join the cause daily.

Sep 2, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after his match against Kyle Edmund of the United Kingdom (not pictured) on day three of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. / Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Djokovic resigned as head of the ATP player council last week, along with members Vasek Pospisil, John Isner and Sam Querrey, to form the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA).

Despite his off-court distractions, the top seed has looked impeccable and defeated Briton Kyle Edmund on Wednesday to stay on course for his 18th Grand Slam title, while improving his 2020 match record to 25-0.

“It’s not easy for me obviously dealing with all that in the midst of the tournament,” Djokovic told reporters, adding that the PTPA is a “long-term project”.

“We are happy that there is every single day more and more players signing in. The next step after the U.S. Open is creating a structure legally ... the bylaws and everything to follow.”

The Serbian has described the PTPA as a platform for players to be better heard on decisions that affect their livelihoods, but the move has faced resistance from player council members Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.

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 unity at a time when the sport has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Federer and Nadal echoing those sentiments.

Djokovic said he spoke to Federer and Nadal before launching the PTPA on Saturday and disagrees with their view that the timing was wrong.

“For a players association, it’s always the right time, and it has been the right time for the last 20 years. Somehow it was never really accomplished, never really realized,” he said. “Right now it is. We are moving forward.”

World number seven Alexander Zverev has yet to join the PTPA but lauded Djokovic for his role.

“I haven’t signed the paper. But I think it’s a great thing that players do want to come together,” the German said, after reaching the third round of the tournament.

“He’s (Djokovic) a World No. 1. He has made enough money. He doesn’t need to worry about that. He doesn’t need to worry about anything, but he does. He does worry about the well-being of other players ... about the health of our sport.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Richard Pullin

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