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'Why should I give them money?' Top tennis star SLAMS Djokovic, Nadal and Federer's plan to create new fund for struggling players

'Why should I give them money?' Top tennis star SLAMS Djokovic, Nadal and Federer's plan to create new fund for struggling players
World number three Dominic Thiem has broken rank with plans to offer help to competitors whose incomes have been slashed by the Covid-19 pandemic, accusing less successful players of showing a lack of dedication to their careers.

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.

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"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.

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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."

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“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.

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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.

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