Sport Tennis ‘None of them are going to starve’: Thiem rejects handouts for struggling players

‘None of them are going to starve’: Thiem rejects handouts for struggling players

dominic thiem coronavirus
Dominic Thiem won't get behind an idea to help lower-ranked tennis players. Photo: Getty
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Australian Open runner-up Dominic Thiem has rejected the idea that the world’s top tennis players should help fund lower-ranked professionals who are in financial trouble while the ATP and WTA Tours are suspended because of coronavirus.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic last week urged players to contribute to a fund set up by the sport’s major governing bodies to help players affected by a shutdown, which began in March and will continue at least until mid-July.

A sliding scale would mean the top five players donated $US30,000 ($A47,000) each, down to players ranked 51 to 100 donating $US5000 ($A7800).

But Thiem, the world No.3, said he felt there were sections of society that needed more urgent help during the economic crisis caused by the pandemic than his fellow competitors.

“No tennis player is fighting to survive, even those who are much lower-ranked. None of them are going to starve,” he told Austrian newspaper Krone on Sunday.

Thiem, who has reached three finals at grand slams since 2018, has earned almost $US24 million ($A38 million) during his career and more than $1.7 million ($A2.7 million) this year alone.

The 26-year-old criticised the attitude of some players on the lower-tier Futures circuit, which he said meant they did not deserve handouts from the sport’s top players.

“There are many, many players who don’t put the sport above everything else and don’t live in a professional manner,” the Austrian said.

“I don’t really see why I should give such players money.

“I’d rather give money to people or organisations that really need it.

“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.”

Thiem’s comments come as the men’s and women’s tours continue to look at potential return dates.

Wimbledon has been cancelled, while French Open organisers have rescheduled their event for the end of September, shortly after the US Open.

Rafael Nadal, a 19-time major singles winner, has told a Spanish Tennis Federation online chat that he is pessimistic about a quick restart to professional tennis.

“In tennis, you need to travel every week, stay in hotels, go to different countries,” he said.

“Even if we play without an audience, to organise any event you need a lot of people involved, which cannot be ignored. At an international level, I see a serious problem.”

-with AAP