Andy Murray joins Federer and Nadal in new-look ATP Player Council

Murray is also back in action this week at a new indoor event in Cologne

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis
Andy Murray
Andy Murray (Photo: Marianne Bevis)

The ATP has announced the names of the four new players who have been elected to the ATP Player Council: Andy Murray, Felix Auger-Aliassime, John Millman and Jeremy Chardy.

Their election fills the vacancies left by the resignation of then President Novak Djokovic, John Isner, Vasek Pospisil and Sam Querrey ahead of the US Open at the end of the August.

Djokovic has set up the Professional Tennis Players’ Association, aimed are representing players independent from the men’s governing body. The world No1 said: “We just want to have our own organisation, that is 100 percent ours. We are definitely going to try and work with ATP, and all the governing bodies.”

Many notable players disagreed with the timing of the proposed split between players and the current representative channel into the ATP—The Player Council.

The chairmanship of the ATP was only taken over by top-20 player Andrea Gaudenzi in January, and a statement from the organisation in the wake of the coronavirus shut-down of tennis, was clear:

“We recognise the challenges that our members face in today’s circumstances. However, we strongly believe that now is a time for unity, rather than internal division.”

And there was heavyweight support from the WTA, ITF and the four Grand Slams:

“It is a time for even greater collaboration, not division; a time to consider and act in the best interests of the sport, now and for the future. When we work together, we are a stronger sport.”

Other highly influential voices also endorsed that view. First the newest Major champion and world No2 Rafael Nadal:

“The world is living a difficult and complicated situation. I personally believe these are times to be calm and work all of us together in the same direction. It is time for unity, not for separation.”

Then Roger Federer, absent because of knee surgery throughout this season but President of the Council from 2008 until 2014, endorsed his rival’s comments:

“I agree. These are uncertain and challenging times, but I believe it’s critical for us to stand united as players, and as a sport, to pave the best way forward.”

And what of Murray, absent for much of the last 18 months due to major hip surgery and the global pandemic? He chose to take a path between the two extremes, and his status as a former No1 and multiple Major and Olympic champion—and as a man often forthright in his opinions—mean that his views carry considerable influence. He said:

“I’m not totally against a player union, but I feel like the current management that are in place should be given some time to implement their vision, and I feel like that would send a much more powerful message if the WTA were on board with it as well.”

So the fact that he has now seen fit to put himself forward as a member of the Council is particularly noteworthy, especially as he takes that place alongside Nadal and Federer.

Also of note is that one of the fast-rising young talents on the Tour has also been willing to take up a place at the players’ table. Auger-Aliassime, age 20, is the youngest player in the top 25, and was ranked 18 just as the lockdown began in February. He will, then, bring a different perspective to proceedings, as will the older and lower-ranked Jeremy Chardy and John Millman, both in their 30s and without the high-profile careers of some of their illustrious peers.

The full membership comprises:

1-50 Singles:

Kevin Anderson—President
Rafael Nadal
Felix Auger-Aliassime
John Millman

51-100 Singles:

Yen-Hsun Lu
Jeremy Chardy
1-100 Doubles:

Jurgen Melzer
Bruno Soares
At Large (ie represent the whole membership):

Andy Murray
Roger Federer

Coach:

Brad Stine

Alumni:

Colin Dowdeswell

Murray, who has won just three of his six matches so far this year—including a first-round loss in a brutal draw at Roland Garros a fortnight ago against Stan Wawrinka—this week plays with a wild card in a new tournament in Cologne, one of four events added to the depleted calendar for the autumn.

He faces Fernando Verdasco in Round 1, then top seed Alexander Zverev next should the Briton win.

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