Dominic Thiem has firmly rejected the idea that the world’s top tennis players should chip in to help lower-ranked competitors who are struggling financially.

The men’s world No 1, Novak Djokovic, last week urged players to contribute to a fund set up by the sport’s major governing bodies, in order to help players affected by a shutdown which began in March and will continue at least until mid-July.

The scheme has been criticised by Australia’s John Millman, who said the pay gap in tennis should have been addressed a long time ago. Thiem has taken things a step further, saying he felt there were others that needed more urgent help, and questioning the professionalism of some lower-tier players.

“No tennis player is fighting to survive, even those who are much lower-ranked. None of them are going to starve,” Thiem told Austrian newspaper Krone. “I don’t really see why I should give such players money,” he added. “I would rather give money to people or organisations that really need it,” he added.

“There are many, many players who don’t put the sport above everything else and don’t live in a professional manner,” the 26-year-old said. “None of us top players got anything handed to us, we all had to fight our way up. I don’t have the guarantee in any job that I will do well and earn lots of money.”

The man sandwiched between Djokovic and Thiem in the ATP rankings, Rafael Nadal, has said he does not expect tennis to return to normality any time soon.

“From my point of view, I’m very pessimistic that the circuit can resume normal activity,” Nadal said in an online Q&A organised by the Spanish tennis federation.

“In tennis, you need to travel every week, stay in hotels, go to different countries,” he added. “Even if we play without an audience, to organise any event you need a lot of people involved. At an international level I see a serious problem.”

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