Melbourne - Novak Djokovic hosed down suggestions on Tuesday he
is pushing to create an independent players union to fight for even more prize
money, and denied reports it could lead to tournament boycotts.
British media said the Serbian 12-time Grand Slam winner,
president of the ATP Tour player council, had raised the subject at a mandatory
player meeting in Melbourne on Friday.
The London Times said he took the stage and suddenly asked
that ATP officials and any non-players leave the room, bringing in an
Australian professor with specialist knowledge of workplace law.
According to Britain's Telegraph newspaper, Djokovic, who
has earned $110 million in prize money, then outlined his argument that the
Grand Slams only pay out about seven percent of their income.
It said he compared this to American basketball, which pays
about 50 percent.
Some reports said the dispute could lead to tournament
boycotts if players didn't get more money, but Djokovic said this was not true.
"That wasn't a subject I raised, no," he said
after powering into the Australian Open second round in his first tournament
match since an elbow injury forced him out of Wimbledon six months ago.
"You're talking about boycott, you're talking about
radical decisions to make and move so we can get financial compensations the
way we deserve it. But there was no talks about that," he insisted.
The Times said any new union would break away from the
present set-up under the ATP, the men's governing body, which jointly
represents the interests of both the players and tournaments.
The ATP refused to comment.
At the players meeting Australian Open tournament director
Craig Tiley reportedly outlined plans to boost prize money at the opening Grand
Slam of the year from $55 million to $100 million over the next five years.
Djokovic said "everybody's trying to do their
best" when asked about players getting a bigger slice of Grand Slam
"I mean, we are here at the Australian Open, and they
always try to compensate the players in a best possible way," he said.
"Things are going in the right direction."
He added that while he was ATP player council president,
"I don't sit on these negotiation tables".
"Obviously before you get anything to be voted on the
board, it has to go through council. It's not only me that makes some calls,
far from that.
"I'm just glad that I'm part of it, that I can
contribute to a better sport today, and the future. Hopefully the next
generation will even have a better sport."
Kevin Anderson, who is vice-president of the ATP player
council, was cited by British media as saying: "I think there's a big case
to be made as far as percentage goes.
"If you see an NBA (basketball) player or an NFL
(American football) player you think seven figures in their bank account and I
don't think that's the case even for some players who make the main draw at
Maria Sharapova acknowledged Grand Slam revenues were
growing and said after her Australian Open match Tuesday that: "I do
believe that the players will ultimately earn more."