Djokovic Equals Nadal With Victory At Western & Southern Open

World number one Novak Djokovic maintained his unbeaten start to 2020 coming back from a set down to win 1-6 6-3 6-4 against Milos Raonic in the Western and Southern Open final in New York on Saturday.

The 33-year-old Serb equalled Rafael Nadal’s record of 35 Masters 1000 Series titles with the victory.

Canadian Raonic, the world number 30, took the first set in 31 minutes.

Djokovic levelled before coming from 2-0 down in the decider to seal his 80th ATP title in exactly two hours.

The Serb has battled a sore neck since his semifinal win over Roberto Baustista Agut but will enter the US Open which begins on Monday confident of a fourth title and an eighteenth grandslam.

The win comes amidst a gathering storm within the men’s game after Serb resigned from his position as president of the players council of the Association of Tennis Professionals to form a new body to represent players.

He is being joined by top ranked US player John Isner and Canadian Vasek Pospisil both of whom have also resigned from their positions on the players council.

The new body will be called the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) and a document detailing plans and objectives has been distributed to players, seeking their signatures.

The move has been met with stiff resistance within tennis including from Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal both of whom called for greater unity.

The ATP currently governs the men’s professional Tour and its board, chaired by former Italian professional player Andrea Gaudenzi, is composed of representatives of both players and tournaments.

The governing body reminded the players that they have an equal say on decisions affecting the circuit.

“We recognise the challenges that our members face in today’s circumstances, however we strongly believe that now is a time for unity, rather than internal division,” the ATP said in a statement.

“We remain unwavering in our commitment to deliver for our players across all areas of our business, ensuring they receive maximum benefit from their years on Tour, and that their voices are heard.”

Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, who make up the ‘Big Three’ of men’s tennis along with Djokovic, are also part of the council but are not in New York as they are not playing the U.S. Open.

Reacting to the development, Nadal wrote on Twitter: “The world is living a difficult and complicated situation. I personally believe these are times to be calm and work all of us together in the same direction. It is time for unity, not for separation.

“These are moments where big things can be achieved as long as the world of tennis is united. We all, players, tournaments and governing bodies have to work together. We have a bigger problem and separation and disunion is definitely not the solution.”

Federer, the most successful men’s player with 20 Grand Slam singles titles, agreed with Nadal.

“These are uncertain and challenging times, but I believe it’s critical for us to stand united as players, and as a sport, to pave the best way forward,” said the 39-year-old, who is recovering from double knee surgeries.

Besides the ATP and the WTA, the sport is also controlled by the International Tennis Federation and the boards of the four Grand Slams.

In a joint statement, the governing bodies said they have worked “tirelessly” to ensure the sport returned safely after a five-month hiatus due to COVID-19 and help the players who needed financial help during the shutdown.

“Now more than ever we need collaboration and strong relationships, and we fully support the ATP in its role in representing the best interests of players throughout this process,” it said.