Boycott of Australia Open discussed: Roddick
MELBOURNE: Former world number one Andy Roddick is convinced professional tennis players have the leverage to push through the changes they want to see in the men’s game if they remain united.
Speaking about last weekend’s meeting of 140 players, at which a mass boycott of the Australian Open was proposed, the American said it was important that the unity displayed was maintained.
“I think as the product, I don’t think we should underestimate our leverage in this game, especially if we do have one voice,” Roddick said after beating Robin Haase in the first round at Melbourne Park.
“I don’t think it’s smart for us to ask for permission to have less events. That seems ridiculous if you’re looking at tennis as a business.
“U2 doesn’t ask to go on tour. They go on tour. So I think that’s kind of the fundamental issue at hand.”
While there are a variety of different issues the players are disgruntled about, including the distribution of prize money from the grand slam tournaments, Roddick’s main beef is not being able to choose how many tournaments he plays.
The 29-year-old, who has earned $20 million in prize money over his career, is obliged to play the four grand slams, eight of the nine Masters series events and a string of smaller tournaments every year.
“By no means am I saying get rid of events,” he said.
“I don’t care if everyone else plays a million tournaments. I feel like I’ve played long enough and I know myself well enough to know what I need to play.”
Roddick described Saturday’s meeting as “passionate” while 32nd seed Alex Bogomolov Jr, who tweeted over the weekend of a possible strike at Melbourne Park, said he had been inspired by the unity on display.
“I was very excited as far as how the players were united,” said the 28-year-old Russian, who has earned $1.2 million in his 10-year career.
“I’ve never been to a meeting like that before in my life. The way everybody is sticking by each other, the way everybody is on the same page, is inspiring.”
Roddick said there was widespread agreement on the main problems but that the players had reached similar conclusions a decade ago, only for splits to open up later.
“Unity is a hard thing to attain,” Roddick said.
“While I think we have probably the majority, it’s easy to talk about it, but it’s another thing to go through the process and the work and the hours to try to get an angle.
“There’s a lot of issues,” he added.
“I think if we have unity, it’s our choice where we want to start.”
New ATP chief Brad Drewett will speak to the media at Melbourne Park on Wednesday but Roddick was at pains to emphasise that the players’ complaints were not only with the men’s tour but all of the tennis establishment.
“The definition of insanity defined by the dictionary is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” he said.
“That’s the process that’s been in place since the late ’80s or early ’90s. We’re still having some of the same discussions they had then.”