Djokovic confirms whispers of a breakaway tennis tour

Novak Djokovic says he's heard rumours of a rebel tennis tour but doesn't know any details.

Novak Djokovic says he's heard rumours of a rebel tennis tour but doesn't know any details. Photo: AAP

Is tennis about to follow golf and treat global fans to a breakaway tour featuring the sport’s biggest stars?

World No.1 Novak Djokovic, in Australia and preparing for the Open, has confirmed the rumour is spreading through the tennis world, but insists he’s still in the dark about any specifics of a rebel tour.

Rumours are growing that a LIV Golf-style elite tennis tour could be launched, possibly as early as 2025. The outrageous money that a Saudi Arabian-backed league could throw at the world’s best tennis players could be hard to resist.

Djokovic stressed he doesn’t know what is going on behind the scenes, and has only heard some rumours about what could arise in the future.

But for tennis in general, Djokovic is keen to see some changes in order to attract more younger fans.

“I’m generally always supportive of improving the sport,” Djokovic said in Perth ahead of his appearance for Serbia at the mixed-teams United Cup.

“I have said this many times before, that I think that tennis is not using its full potential.

“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.

‘We need to try to adjust’

“I’m a big supporter 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.

“So that’s in terms of general overview. And where I stand (on talk of a rebel tour), I have no idea what elite tour you’re talking about.

“I have heard rumours as well, but it is, I guess, still early stages and we didn’t see anything concrete out there.”

Women’s world No.5 Jessica Pegula thinks it’s just a matter of time before a rebel tour is launched.

“I think it’s inevitable, to be honest,” the American said.

“There is a lot of talk. I feel like there has been for the past year or so.

‘It’s going to happen’

“I feel like it’s going to happen eventually, because money talks, and they have infinite amounts of money and they seem to be involved in every single sport in the world except for ours.

“So I’m sure ours is coming.”

The arrival of LIV golf caused controversy, with many critics labelling it as sportswashing designed to cover up Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record.

Players who joined that rebel golf tour were banned from the PGA and European Tours.

World No.10 Taylor Fritz wonders if the same thing will happen in tennis.

“If it happens, I think the biggest question mark is going to be if you compete on that tour, if you still are going to be able to play slams or not,” Fritz said.

“We’ll see what happens. I can’t really say if it’s a good thing or not until you could see how they would structure the tour, how it would be.

“I do think the way the tour is now there are lots of things that could be improved.”

—with AAP

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