(Reuters) - Novak Djokovic had a chat with ATP chief Andrea Gaudenzi ahead of the Italian Open in Rome regarding his breakaway players body, the world number one said, reiterating that the new association could be a “positive addition” to the men’s Tour.
In a stunning move Djokovic stepped down as head of the ATP player council last month along with members Vasek Pospisil, John Isner and Sam Querrey and announced the formation of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA).
“I did meet Andrea. We had a player meeting and he did a presentation for us. It was about two days ago,” the Serb told reporters after moving into the third round in Rome with a win over Italian wildcard Salvatore Caruso.
“We stayed for about two and a half hours and I stayed all the way through. I had a chat with him as well privately. We don’t have any issues.
“We always had a very transparent and open relationship, Andrea and myself. We have known each other for many years. I respect him a lot.”
Djokovic has described the PTPA, which he said has already attracted the support of more than 200 players, as a platform for the views of the athletes that can co-exist with the ATP.
Tennis governing bodies have, however, opposed the move and called for unity now that the sport has resumed after a lengthy shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We never said we want to boycott or separate ourselves from the ATP or anything like that. We want to work together in this ecosystem with ATP and everyone else,” Djokovic said.
“The Players Association is going forward, it’s very important for us to have a 100% players representation.”
Djokovic’s move has met opposition from Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal while acting player council president Kevin Anderson failed to see how the PTPA could co-exist with the ATP under the current structure.
Djokovic said he had exchanged greetings with Nadal in Rome but was yet to chat with the Spaniard about the PTPA.
“That’s not gonna happen during the tournament for sure,” Djokovic said. “Maybe there will be time for that next week before Roland Garros when we don’t have matches for maybe three-four days and maybe that will be a chance to do it.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Michael Perry
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