Australian Open: Novak Djokovic wins on his return and dismisses reports he argued for players' union and boycott

 
Joe Hall
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2018 Australian Open - Day 2
Djokovic: No talks of a boycott (Source: Getty)

Novak Djokovic has dismissed reports suggesting he is leading a push for male tennis players to form a union and demand greater prize money.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion is president of the ATP's player's council and was reported to have made the argument at their annual meeting before this month's Australian Open in Melbourne.

Yet after a straight sets win against American Donald Young in the tournament's opening round — his first match since last year's Wimbledon — Djokovic dismissed claims that he had floated the idea of boycotting next year's Australian Open if the ATP did not adjust their revenue distribution model.

"I saw that some of you have written a story that has been a little bit exaggerated," he said.

"You've taken things out of context. I saw that you've portrayed me as someone who is very greedy, asks for more money and wants to boycott. I respect your freedom and decisions to do that. But not much of what you wrote is true.

"What happened is that we just wanted to have us players talk about certain topics. I don't think there is anything unhealthy about that. A hundred players get together two or three times in a whole year."

Djokovic was reported to have demanded officials from the ATP and Tennis Australia leave the room before he made the argument to the players — including Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafel Nadal — that they were not paid enough compared to other sports stars.

But while 30-year-old admitted that prize money was discussed, he insists no one was asked to leave the room.

"We wanted to use this opportunity to speak about certain subjects and see how everyone reacts to that and I guess see what opinions are," said the Serb.

"There were no decisions being made. There were no talks about a boycott or anything like that.

"You're talking about a union, you're talking boycott, you're talking about radical decisions to make and move so we can get financial compensations the way we deserve it. But there were no talks about that. Never have we intentionally thrown anyone out of the room. Everything was done in a very normal, polite way."

Djokovic is the second-highest earning player in tennis history, having earned $110m (£80m) throughout his career, just short of Federer's career haul of $112m.

The Australian Open is offering AUS$4m to this year's winner, the largest pay cheque in the tournament's history.

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