'Why should I give them money?' Top tennis star SLAMS Djokovic, Nadal and Federer's plan to create new fund for struggling players
Thiem spoke openly of his misgivings about plans to create a $4.9 million fund for players outside the top 250 in the world, spearheaded by world number one and player council president Novak Djokovic in an attempt to support professionals whose relatively low earnings have been gutted while the tennis calendar is suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Djokovic held productive discussions last weekend with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, his long-established leading rivals, but has clearly not won the backing of their newest challenger at the top of the rankings.
“I wouldn’t really see why I should give such players money,” a scathing Thiem told Krone, strongly indicating that he will not be donating any of his estimated $17 million in career prize money to the rest of the tour.Also on rt.com Impractical idealism? Roger Federer calls for 'men's and women's tennis to come together as one'
"None of us top players got anything handed to us – we all had to fight our way up. I don’t have the guarantee in any job that I will do well and earn lots of money. That’s my opinion on the matter."
Thiem's thoughts are unlikely to win him many friends in the locker rooms or in the wider tennis world, trashing an altruistic idea first put forward by Serena Williams's coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, earlier this month.
Mouratoglou said it was "revolting" that well-followed elite players were struggling to make a living without matches to play, calling them "independent contractors" and urging tennis authorities to provide financial support for them.Also on rt.com Serena Williams' coach: It's 'revolting' lower-ranked tennis players can't make a living
Under Djokovic's scheme, players ranked between 250 and 700 would be granted $9,900, with Thiem and the rest of the top five contributing $29,900 each, boosted by $4,900 from players beneath them.
Tennis tour the ATP would pledge $997,000, boosted by $498,000 from each of the Grand Slam tournaments, according to The Times.
“Quite honestly, I have to say that no tennis player will be fighting to survive, even those who are much lower-ranked,” insisted Thiem, pointing to "many, many players who don’t put the sport above everything else and don’t live in a professional manner."Also on rt.com 'I have the right to express my views': Djokovic defends anti-vaxxer stance after Covid-19 comments cause stir
“None of them are going to starve."
Djokovic wrote a stirring letter to his fellow players, asking them to "show great unity, understanding and compassion" and create "an example for the future generations" – words that are yet to convince Thiem.
“I would rather give money to people or organizations that really need it,” he argued.Also on rt.com Coronavirus clause hands Wimbledon a break as canceled championships' reported $141 MILLION pandemic insurance policy pays off
Wimbledon became the first Grand Slam of the year to be canceled as a result of the global health crisis, and a succession of smaller tournaments that lesser-known players rely upon for most of their income have also not gone ahead this year.
Optimists hope the US Open will still be held in late August, and the French Open has been rescheduled to take place shortly afterwards.
Austrian Thiem is chasing his first Grand Slam title, having taken Djokovic to five sets in the Australian Open final in February.Also on rt.com Give the guy a break: You may not like Djokovic's anti-vaxx views, but he has a right to voice them