New ATP Exec Chair & President Brad Drewett "attempted to calm the waters on Wednesday after rumors of a player strike bubbled up again at the start of the Australian Open,” according to Caroline Cheese of the AP. Drewett said that a player meeting -- the “first since he took over his new position on Jan. 1 -- was no more heated than any other, but acknowledged there were issues that needed addressing.” Drewett: "There is some frustration on certain points within the game. I heard the players loud and clear the other night about their issues. My plan is to represent their opinions wherever it needs to be represented and make sure they're heard." Drewett “sidestepped the strike topic Wednesday and instead focused on his plans to resolve the players' problems.” He said, "A lot of the issues that are around now have been around for a while. They're not new issues. You hear discussion about scheduling, about prize money. I heard the players very clearly the other night about that topic." Cheese noted part of Drewett's task “may be to negotiate with the Grand Slam committees over prize money, which the players argue hasn't increased proportionately in line with profits.” Tennis player Andy Roddick “agreed that the issues were not new, but he said the players were now more united than ever before in the drive to force change” (AP, 1/17). Drewett confirmed that this season “would deliver a shorter season with significant prize money increases.” He also said men's tennis was in "unbelievable" shape and described claims of an imminent strike as "sensational." Drewett: "I saw it as a very constructive meeting where I want to encourage guys to speak openly in that forum, speak openly with me" (HERALDSUN.com.au, 1/18). Drewett said that the players “would receive 20 per cent more prize money from tour events over the next three years.” Drewett: "I think the game is clearly in a great spot. That doesn't mean there's not always going to be some issues on the side. That's for me to listen" (AAP, 1/18).
FROM THE PLAYERS: In a special to the Melbourne AGE, tennis players Bob and Mike Bryan wrote, “We travel to great cities, we're well paid and we have one of the best jobs in the world, so we try not to open our mouths about a lot of that stuff. But we have some interesting times ahead because the players are more united than they have been in a while.” They added, “For a long time, it was impossible to get anything done, because all the players wanted different things, but that's starting to change.” It is “cool” to have Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on the players’ council “together -- the big three.” They might not be “on the exact same page at the moment, but that's going to happen.” They are “uniting the players and making sure we have a voice.” They wrote: “They don't need to do it -- they're millionaires, they're great players and they could just focus on their tennis, but they're trying to make the game better and take it into the future, and we're becoming a stronger group because of it. We're less divided than we used to be, and that will hopefully make it easier for things to get done” (THEAGE.com.au, 1/18).
QUIET, PLEASE: USA TODAY’s Douglas Robson writes for the “first time in years, the WTA is taking calls for action seriously” about the players’ grunting during a match. WTA officials have “started to conduct ‘due diligence’ by reaching out to constituents, coaches and academies to ensure that the next generation of players tone down what to many has become an unbearable ear sore.” Grunting “made the tour's board meeting during last year's U.S. Open and will be discussed again by the board in March” (USA TODAY, 1/18).