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Not Worth Talking About – Djokovic on Premium Tour Rumors

The leader of the PTPA says rumors of a premium tour for tennis are nothing more than that at the moment.

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday December 31, 2023

Of late, there have been many rumors about drastic changes to tennis on the horizon, specifically the construction of a “premium tour” that combines the Grand Slams, the Masters 1000s and a few other prestigious tournaments into one tour, which would allow top players to prioritize bigger events, play shorter seasons, and ultimately make more money doing so.

Last week in Australia, World No.1 Novak Djokovic was asked to give his thoughts on the rumors. The 24-time major champion, who also doubles as the head of the PTPA (Professional Tennis Players Association), had the following to say:

“As far as I know, the 2024 calendar is out, so that’s not happening this year,” Djokovic confirmed, adding: “There are many rumors out there, but I think as long as there are rumors and no factual evidence out there and concrete formalized discussions on the table, I don’t think it’s worth talking about it.”

Djokovic was happy to elaborate and says he believes that the sport of tennis is not maximizing its potential in a way that benefits the fans and the players.

“I have said this many times before, that I think that tennis is not using its full potential,” he said. “We are one of the most globally watched and popular sports in the world, but I think that we have been quite conservative and conventional in certain aspects, and that unfortunately hasn’t really been a great appeal to the younger audience.”

Djokovic believes that tennis needs to strike a balance between nurturing tradition and embracing change.

“I’m big supportive of our history and tradition and everything, I think we should always nurture that, but I think we need to try to adjust to the modern times and try to understand what the younger audience wants and really make the tennis more appealing to that group.

Djokovic was reluctant to talk about rumors of a new premium tour that has been described by tennis journalist Matthew Futterman in articles published at the Athletic. He says he doesn’t have a clear picture of details and that he isn’t aware of any concrete discussions.

“The details are still being worked out, but the broad outline is built around a premier tour for top-level players — say, roughly the top 100,” Wrote Futterman, who added that under the plan “all the other events would be part of a developmental tour, with players outside the top 100 competing to make the premier tour.”

“I have no idea what elite tour you’re talking about,” Djokovic said. “I have heard rumors, as well, but it’s, I guess, still early stages and we didn’t see anything concrete out there.”

There has also been rumors flying about the possibility of Saudi Arabia offering big money to fund a prestigous tour event, or possibly even a breakaway tour that models golf’s LIV Tour. That’s something the ATP and WTA are likely scrambling to avoid, which explains their vision of a premium tour that would garner more media rights and consequently offer a greater percentage of revenue sharing to the players.

According to Futterman, negotiations on the rumored premium tour are progressing rapidly and a formal offer is expected in the coming weeks.

Even if change isn’t imminent in a physical sense, 2024 could be a season which marks the beginning of big change for the tours… stay tuned.

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