May 19, 2020 / 3:27 PM / 8 days ago

Tennis: Not players' job to help fellow professionals - Berrettini

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Matteo Berrettini thinks tennis players should not be put in a position where they have to provide financial aid to fellow professionals and it should be the responsibility of those governing the sport, the Italian world number eight has said.

Tennis - Australian Open - Second Round - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 22, 2020 - Italy’s Matteo Berrettini reacts during the match against Tennys Sandgren of the U.S. REUTERS/Edgar Su

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic had urged players to contribute to a fund set up by the sport’s governing bodies to help the lower-ranked professionals affected by the tennis shutdown which began in March and will continue at least until end of July.

“I took a moment to reflect on my priorities, not because I don’t respect the other players, because I believe that no player - in any kind of sports - should be put in the position of helping another player financially,” Berrettini told Eurosport Italy’s Call-azione show.

“I think that this responsibility belongs to the federations, ITF, ATP, WTA... they are the ones who make tournaments happen, and us, the players, pay them back with our performances.

“They have to take care of us. The real problem is deeper.”

The governing bodies recently raised over $6 million to help the lower-level players, who depend solely on tournament winnings to earn their living, during the shutdown caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The International Tennis Federation has said it is working on additional measures, including a new relief fund, to help players ranked between 501 and 700, and are not covered under other relief programmes.

World No. 3 Dominic Thiem had earlier rejected the notion that top tennis players should chip in to help the lower-ranked competitors, saying he felt there were sections of society that needed more urgent help.

“We need to invest money in a different way in order to help lower-ranked players,” the 24-year-old Berrettini said. “Personally, I prefer to help other more specific causes.

“I spoke with Djokovic and he told me ‘don’t worry Matteo, the donation is not mandatory. It’s something that you can agree on if you feel like it. If you prefer to buy masks for hospitals like Spallanzani or helping families in need, I respect you’.

“That’s an important message, it should be spread outside of our players’ circle.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Christian Radnedge

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