Canada's Vasek Pospisil on his incredible comeback and the fight for player earnings

Dec 13 2019, 11:56 am

Nearing the end of 2019, a year that turned out to be one of Vasek Pospisil’s most successful seasons in professional tennis, the Vernon, BC native is excited for what’s yet to come.

“I like to believe I still have my best tennis in me,” Pospisil told Daily Hive. The 29-year-old is back in Vancouver promoting a new partnership with Huawei who have developed a watch that’s assisting his on-court performance.

“If my body holds up, I mean, I’ve been I’ve been telling everybody this for the last few months and I knock on wood every single time, but my body hasn’t felt as good since 2013 before my initial back injury.”

Before injuries derailed his career, Pospisil reached a career-high ranking of 25.

“I had surgery and I was out for eight months from November [2018]. I felt like I grew as a person a lot. I think I matured a lot. I think I have a new perspective on the sport and life,” said the Canadian.

After suffering a back injury on the court in October 2018, Pospisil decided to have surgery to repair a herniated disk. He returned to the tour at Wimbledon this past July.

He had his first breakthrough of the season at the US Open in August, beating then-world No. 9 Karen Khachanov in a five-set first-round battle. Weeks later in Beijing and Shanghai, Pospisil had wins over former world No. 18 Andreas Seppi, world No. 15 Diego Schwartzman and world No. 42 Joao Sousa.

Pospisil then won titles at two challenger-level tournaments in Las Vegas and Charlottesville before playing a huge role in Canada’s run to the final at the Davis Cup in November.

“I came back excited to be on the court and really realized I was taking tennis for granted,” said Pospisil. “I never realized how much I love being on the court and love the sport.”

Pospisil’s says his years of experience on tour are now helping him train the right way now.

“You can spend six hours running on a treadmill, eight miles an hour, and destroy your body. You’re working hard but that’s not really going to translate into the tennis court.”

After falling to a low ranking of 248 earlier this year, Pospisil is back in the world’s top 150. He concluded health has been the biggest factor.

“Going four months straight without a back issue, I mean, it hasn’t happened since 2013.”

On player earnings

Pospisil also spoke about another tennis storyline he has become increasingly involved in since joining the ATP players’ council in 2018.

Just before the 2019 Rogers Cup in Montreal, the Canadian made headlines when he wrote an article in the Globe and Mail asserting that tennis players, especially those not ranked in the world’s top 100, are not making enough money to pursue the sport.

Pospisil wrote then that each of the major tournaments split 14% of their revenues with the players, which isn’t close to the 50% shared by other major sports leagues.

He elaborated on that article when he spoke with the media at the Rogers Cup in August, and when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal returned to the players’ council in August 2019, it appeared his and the voices of other players were being heard.

“Unfortunately, they [Nadal and Federer] haven’t supported the movement,” Pospisil said, speaking about what the two tennis legends have brought to the council so far.

“From my conversations with Roger and what they [Federer and Nadal] say in the press, I think they acknowledge that there’s an issue, but unfortunately, they haven’t followed with what the 80-plus top hundred players have signed on for.”

Pospisil explained that what he and the others who agree with him are pushing for is to have professional representation negotiating with the ATP on their behalf.

“This is a partnership [with the tournaments], so we should be treated as partners.”

Pospisil was quick to add how much he respects Federer and Nadal, but explained, “They’re not they’re not the type of guys, in my opinion, that should be negotiating complicated details of financials and the way the way that that money is distributed. We need guys that have studied that for decades.”

Asked about the other member of tennis’s Big Three, ATP Players’ Council President Novak Djokovic, Pospisil was full of praise.

“Novak has been incredible,” said Pospisil. “Honestly, I didn’t really know him too well before I got on the player council with him. We sort of bonded and in the sense that we both look at the issues the same way and we have very visions on how we think the tennis world needs to improve.”

“He’s sometimes misunderstood on the court. He’s he plays a lot of passion and fire, but honestly when in the in the player council room he’s really fighting for all the players, even lower-ranked guys.

“For someone that’s been at the top of the game for so long it’s really cool to see.”

Pospisil added he has also been working with players on the WTA tour, and he has about 70 of the top 100 ranked women on board for the same sort of partnership the players on the men’s tour are pushing for.