Home Sport Novak Djokovic accuses two sports of 'endangering' tennis as he shares big...

Novak Djokovic accuses two sports of 'endangering' tennis as he shares big worries

Novak Djokovic has claimed the future of tennis is “endangered” by the rise of padel and pickleball.

And the Serbian superstar wants the “king or queen of all the racquet sports” promoted better to attract a younger audience like Formula One.

The seven-time Wimbledon champion is through to his seventh consecutive fourth round tie here and will face Holger Rune on Monday.

But speaking after his four-set win over Alexei Popyrin, the world No.2 opened up on the future of tennis when asked about playing best-of-five-set matches in Grand Slams.

He backed calls for best-of-three matches before the fourth round and quarter-finals to keep matches shorter- and then warned how spinoff sports were damaging tennis.

“I think collectively we all have to come together and understand how to maintain the sport’s foundation or create a new foundation, a cornerstone of really what tennis is about, which is the base level, right, the club level,” said the 24-time Major winner.

“Now we have the paddle or padel, as you call it in the States, that is growing and emerging. People kind of have fun with it and say, Yeah, but tennis is tennis.

“Tennis is the king or queen of all the racquet sports, that’s true. But on a club level, tennis is endangered. If we don’t do something about it, as I said, globally or collectively, paddle, pickle ball in States, they’re going to convert all the tennis clubs into paddle and pickle ball because it’s just more economical.

“You have one tennis court. You can build three paddle courts on one tennis court. You do the simple math. It’s just much more financially viable for an owner of a club to have those courts.

“In the grand scheme of things, I feel like we need to address all of these, I feel like, challenges and issues for us really. They have been out there for a while, but I don’t think we have been addressing them in a proper way.”

Padel is huge in mainland Europe while 90,000 people play in the UK – a 1,380% increase from 2020 – on 450 courts. Those numbers are predicted to increase to 600,000 people on 1,000 courts in the next two years.

According to the LTA, annual national club membership in the UK since 2021 have increased from 639,000 to 859,421 in January of this year.

Djokovic has set up the Professional Tennis Players Association to fight for changes in the sport.

And the Serb added: “In terms of innovation in tennis, in our sport, I think it’s necessary. I think we have to, other than Slams, figure out how to attract a young audience. I think tennis, from one hand, is in a good place, but at the same time when we look at Formula 1, for example, and what they have done in terms of marketing, in terms of growth of the sport, in terms of the races around the world and how popular they are, I think we need to do a better job on our respective tours.The Grand Slams are always going to do well. I think our tours need to do better.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here