Tennis: Player unrest could cost ATP chief

The ATP players' council, headed by Serb Novak Djokovic, met in Melbourne on Saturday and reportedly voted 5-4 against current ATP Tour chief Kermode continuing in the role he has held for five years.
The ATP players' council, headed by Serb Novak Djokovic, met in Melbourne on Saturday and reportedly voted 5-4 against current ATP Tour chief Kermode continuing in the role he has held for five years.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Djokovic rebuts talk of vote to oust Kermode, Federer says he'll seek input from other stars

MELBOURNE • Novak Djokovic insisted yesterday that no decision had been taken about ousting ATP Tour chief Chris Kermode after reports of a player revolt against the way the sport was being run.

The Daily Telegraph had reported a move was under way to topple the Briton, citing a strongly-worded e-mail sent by ATP player council member Vasek Pospisil to players ranked between 50th and 100th.

It reportedly called for the workforce to "start acting and running like a business not like a bunch of scared kids... we need a CEO that first and foremost represents our interests". The e-mail added that "the governance structure of the ATP favours the interests of the tournaments and its (their) owners... It's time for a change and it can be achieved by staying unified and demanding what we deserve for our hard work".

The daily said the ATP board - consisting of three tournament representatives and three player representatives - would vote on a possible renewal of Kermode's contract this month.

He needs two of the three board members from each side of the ATP to support him.

The ATP players' council, headed by Djokovic, met in Melbourne on Saturday and reportedly voted 5-4 against Kermode continuing in the role he has held for five years.

Asked for clarity in a press conference yesterday, the top-ranked Serb said: "I don't know where you got that information, a 5-4.

"That information is completely confidential, so I can't speak about anything that we spoke about in that room."

The 14-time Grand Slam winner added: "The decision hasn't been made on the president. He's still president. He'll remain president till the end of his term (this year).

"Whether there's a renewal or not, it's going to be decided in the next period."

When asked for his reaction on Kermode's position, world No. 3 Roger Federer claimed he was not on top of what was going on but would speak to his peers about it.

He said: "We've had a good five, six years now under Chris' leadership. Obviously, it's an important role. We need to look at it very thoroughly.

"I need to speak with Novak, Rafa (Nadal), and Andy (Murray) a little bit to get their take on it all."

Darren Cahill, the former coach of women's world No. 1 Simona Halep tweeted that he "would be stunned if Kermode was removed", before listing the Briton's accomplishments including "big increases in prize money... new progressive rules... facility upgrades".

One man who has been touted as a potential replacement for Kermode is Tennis Australia and Australian Open boss Craig Tiley.

Adding to the ATP board woes was member Justin Gimelstob pleading not guilty last month to a felony battery charge in a Los Angeles court.

The retired two-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion has been accused of attacking former friend Randall Kaplan, although Djokovic said the players' council was "comfortable" with Gimelstob remaining in his position unless "proven guilty".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2019, with the headline 'Player unrest could cost ATP chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe