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Novak: May Meet With Rafa Before Roland Garros

By Richard Pagliaro

Novak Djokovic is the greatest threat to Rafael Nadal's quest to capture a record-extending 13th Roland Garros title next month.

The world No. 1 is hopeful the rivals can meet next week to discuss the state of ATP politics.

More: Djokovic Cruises Through Rome Opener

Meeting the media after his Rome win over Salvatore Caruso, the top-seeded Djokovic said he had a private chat with ATP President Andrea Gaudenzi a couple of days ago after Gaudenzi made a presentation to players and stressed he has no issue with current ATP leadership.

“We don’t have any issues together. We’ve always had a very transparent and open relationship," Djokovic said of Gaudenzi. "Andrea and myself we’ve known each other for many years in Monaco when he used to live there with his family. I respect him a lot. Obviously he is the president of the ATP."

Both Nadal and Roger Federer publicly called for unity and the importance of giving Gaudenzi, who started his post in January, some time to try to realize his vision, which could include a unified tour with the WTA.

Djokovic said he briefly spoke to Nadal in Rome and hopes they can have an in-depth conversation in Paris.

"Rafa I saw him very briefly we didn’t chat about tennis politics and that’s not gonna happen during the tournament for sure," Djokovic said. "Maybe there will be time for that next week before Roalnd Garros where we don’t have matches for three or four days. Maybe that will be our chance to do it."

Reiterating remarks he made during the US Open, Djokovic says the new Professional Tennis Players Association he's formed with Vasek Pospisil and more than 60 of their ATP colleagues will focus on representing Top 500-ranked singles players and Top 200-ranked doubles players and aims to give players a voice in the sport's politics. 

The eight-time Australian Open champion says he's confident the new association can co-exist peacefully and productively with the ATP.

"The main point of the player association is not that we want to fight ATP, ITF, Grand Slams or anyone else," Djokovic said. "A lot of people have gotten the players association wrong and I was trying to answer the questions [in New York], but obviously people construct the story lines the way they want to and I understand that.

"We never said, I never said, Vasek never said or anybody who is part of the assocaiton we want to boycott or separate ourselves from the ATP or anything like that. We want to work together in this ecosystem with the ATP with everyone else."

Tennis Express

Djokovic said the new association has signed on about 200 WTA players.

"We are not just a men’s players association, we want women to be involved as well," Djokovic said. "There is around 200 WTA players that signed the paper and we are discussing to get them in as well and that will happen very soon.

"I think it’s very important for us players to have player representation and I feel we can actually be a positive addition to ATP and work together because this is whwat we want."

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve