Australian tennis pro Andrew Harris has unleashed on world No.1 Novak Djokovic for his lack of participation in a players’ Zoom call with the ATP to discuss the US Open.
Harris, who is ranked No.204 in the world, gave a unique insight into the conference call which featured 400 people, but not the ATP Player Council president Djokovic.
According to the 26-year-old, Djokovic’s absence on the call proved exactly why top-ranked players shouldn’t hold the role as ATP Player Council president.
“He’s head of the Player Council and he’s not even on the call, didn’t show his face,” Harris told the Break Point podcast.
“There were images of him playing soccer at the same time. That’s pretty ordinary.
“It’s the first time we’re coming together as a group to talk about the US Open, everything that’s going on, and he’s not even there.
“He’s also running his own event when no one else is running any events and everyone’s struggling around the world, he’s running his own thing and he’s head of the Player Council. It just rubs me up the wrong way.”
Harris suggested that the likes of Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal struggle to have the interests of lower-ranked players at heart because of their longevity at the top of the game.
“They’ve been at the top for so long, they almost forget what it’s like to be in these lower positions,” he said.
“I know Federer is all for the money at the top. He might say in public what people want to hear, that he’s all for money being redistributed to lower-ranked players … but when it comes to voting, his preference is to keep it at the top.
“I think Novak out of the top three is pushing the agenda to give money to the lower ranks hardest.
“(I’m unsure) whether that’s enough, but out of those three, I think he’s doing the most. It doesn’t affect them so they’re not that invested.”
Harris also launched a scathing attack on ATP CEO Andrea Gaudenzi, slamming the Italian for his “condescending” communication with lower-ranked players.
The Australian highlighted a particularly heated exchange between Gaudenzi and Argentine pro Marco Trungelliti in a recent conference call with the ATP.
“I think it was (Marco) Trungelliti asked a question and Gaudenzi really talked down to him saying, ‘You haven’t seen this, you don’t know what that looks like, you don’t know that’,” he revealed.
“Of course we don’t when you don’t shed light on anything with us. We don’t expect to have a screenshot of all these agreements; we just want some idea of what’s going on.
“It was the way he communicated. He got pretty heated in putting him (Trungelliti) down a bit and you don’t like to see that when guys haven’t seen you and don’t have anything to do with you.
“The question was asked on the Zoom call for the men, ‘has the ATP taken any pay cuts?’ Gaudenzi said no, and his justification was because they’ve been working twice as hard.
“He said something like, ‘after a day’s work with what I’ve been doing, it feels like I’ve played a five-set match’, something along those lines.
“I was like, that’s actually insulting, that as a reason to not take a pay cut.
“Everyone around the world is taking some sort of a pay cut and he’s trying to justify why the ATP haven’t.”
The United States Tennis Association has confirmed that it will hold the US Open without fans amid the COVID-19 outbreak, with the tournament expected to take place between August 31 and September 13.