ATP Board Member Mark Knowles says that the Big Three of men's tennis - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, played a big role in the decision to suspend the ATP Tour for the next 6 weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Knowles says that the 12 members who are part of the ATP Player Council, led by Novak Djokovic, gave their recommendations to the ATP Board of Directors, who made the final call to suspend the tour. The former player from the Bahamas was an ATP Player Council member from 2002-04 and has been on the ATP Board since January this year.
Speaking to the Tennis Channel, Knowles says, "It has been a very challenging time obviously. The world has really changed for us, not just for tennis but globally over the last five days. There's been a lot of conference calls trying to get everybody aligned.
We are a very international sport so the way we are made up with tournament board reps, player board reps, player council members, our constituents, all the players, they are all over the world. So trying to get everybody together and really come up with a unified decision, there are so many layers to this.
Once you think you've got a handle on it, there's a whole other element, whether it is prize money, pension, player commitment, media commitment. There are so many factors to this, it is going to take some time. But we feel like we have been out in front as the ATP Tour has been addressing all the issues.
We've looked at almost everything and really tried to be out in front the best that we could." The ATP Tour has decided to suspend all tournaments for the next 6 weeks and will review the situation for the upcoming clay court events in Europe based on how the situation unfolds in the coming days and weeks.
Some players were upset at the way the decision to cancel Indian Wells was taken at the last minute but perhaps Knowles' insights into the discussions will give them some idea of how tricky the situation must have been for all parties involved.
Knowles also added that Federer, Djokovic & Nadal do not get enough credit for being involved in the matters related to the tour. "I think one thing Roger, Rafa and Novak do not get enough credit for [is that] these guys are so involved which I think is incredibly lucky for all of us.
Three of the greatest players of all time but they are in on every decision. You would think Roger went under knee surgery say 'I going to remove myself from the tour. But he was one of the first guys to get in touch and make sure things are happening and we are making decisions accordingly."