19 April 2020

World No 1 Novak Djokovic reveals plan to raise $10,000 for each lower-ranked player to help during crisis

World number one Novak Djokovic has sent a letter to all ATP players asking them to contribute to a Player Relief Fund worth $4 million.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion, who is also the President of the ATP Player Council, revealed he has already discussed the idea with Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer.

The proposal would see players ranked 250-700 pocket $10,000 each in order to help them through the coronavirus crisis, with the higher ranked stars contributing more to the pot.

As reported by Sports Illustrated, Djokovic says: "Rafa, Roger and I spoke yesterday and this is what we propose. We think it’s more important to support players from No 250-700. First 250 players (most of them at least ) have played qualifications for Grand Slams in 2019 and this year in Australian Open. This participation in qualifications of Slams would guarantee them decent amount of money. Outside of 250 is where the real financial struggle is, which is expected.

"We feel that we all need to get together and help these guys out. Many of them are thinking to leave pro tennis because they just can’t survive financially. Unfortunately there is a very large amount of players in the group between No 250-700 that is not supported by federations or don’t have sponsors. ATP has around 700 members and we should try to take care of all of them. We need to send the message to the tennis community and sports world that we care for each other and especially the future of tennis. No 250-700 especially is where this future is positioned. They are the grass roots of tennis and base of professional sport.

"This is what we propose:

"Top 100 Players singles and Top 20 Doubles contribute financially to Player Relief Fund in the following financial chart;

  • • 50-100 > $5,000 each
    • 20-50 > $10,000 each
    • 10-20 > $15,000 each
    • 5-10 > $20,000 each
    • 1-5 > $30,000 each
  • Top 20 doubles >$5,000 each

    # Total amount is $1,050,000 million

"That in addition to similar amount allocated by ATP and hopefully Grand Slams soon give $500,000 each, should be in total between $4-4.5 million.

"Goal is to give $10,000 to each player 250-700. That would be $4-4.5 million.

"President of ATP says there is a good chance Grand Slams will contribute 500,000$ each. Which is good news. Hopefully it happens in the very near future."

Djokovic called on players to offer fair ways in which money can be distributed to doubles players to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Serbian also revealed he has asked the ATP to donate 50 per cent of the prize money from the World Tour Finals to the Player Relief Fund.

And if the finals do not go ahead this year due to the knock-on effect of the coronavirus, Djokovic is encouraging players at the 2021 Australian Open to contribute themselves.

"Guys, I know that everyone is struggling financially in these circumstances," he added. "Of course someone more, someone less. I feel like this is the way for us to show great unity, understanding and compassion for our fellow players who are trying to make a living or at least not lose money in tennis. Please try to recognise this as an example for the future generations. God bless you all.

"I and kindly asking EVERYONE to write their views on the group as this matter is VERY important now as you can imagine how many players are desperately in a need for financially help.

"If we have all of you supporting this financial support (or at least 90%) we would proceed ASAP so that these players get our support."

The French Open has already been postponed until later in the year, while Wimbledon has been cancelled altogether.

It is not yet known when the tennis season will recommence.

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