Novak Djokovic calls for pay increase, proposes players' union

Novak Djokovic starts his Australian Open campaign against Donald Young on Tuesday. Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic caused a stir ahead of the start of the Australian Open by telling fellow pros that they should be demanding more prize money at tournaments and proposing an independent players' union.

A report from the Daily Mail claims that the 12-time Grand Slam winner, who has won six titles in Melbourne, asked officials from Tennis Australia and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) to leave the tournament's annual player meeting on Friday before making the appeal.

Following addresses from Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley and ATP officials including chairman Chris Kermode, the Mail reports that Djokovic, 30, politely asked all non-players to leave the conference hall before making his case.

Among those present for the compulsory gathering were fellow Grand Slam champions Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Although all four Grand Slams have made significant increases to the amount of prize money they offer players, reports claim the Serbian superstar, accompanied by an Australian lawyer, made a lengthy speech outlining his proposal for a breakaway players' union to battle for greater financial reward at tournaments.

The proposal came after Tiley had outlined plans to increase the prize money available at the season's first slam from the current sum of $55 million to around $60 million in 2019.

Despite living in the tax haven of Monte Carlo and amassing more than $100 million (£72 million) in prize money during his glittering career, Djokovic still believes that tennis players are still not earning enough when compared to individuals in other sports.

According to the Daily Telegraph, he made the comparison that American basketball leagues pay out around 50 percent of their income, while Grand Slams only pay around seven percent.

On the court, Djokovic -- seeded 14th in Melbourne -- will start his quest for a seventh Australian Open crown on Tuesday when he takes on American Donald Young in his first round matchup.