MELBOURNE, Jan 13 — Novak Djokovic insisted today 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.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph said a move was underway to topple the Briton, citing a strongly worded email sent by ATP player council member Vasek Pospisil to players ranked between 50 and 100.
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 email 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 newspaper said the ATP board — comprised 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 yesterday and reportedly voted 5-4 against Kermode continuing in his role.
Asked for clarity in a press conference today, Djokovic 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 world number one added: “The decision hasn’t been made on the president. He’s still president. He’ll remain president till the end of his term.
“Whether there’s a renewal or not, it’s going to be decided in the next period.”
One man who has been touted as a potential replacement is Tennis Australia and Australian Open boss Craig Tiley.
Roger Federer said he wanted to speak with his colleagues about what was going on.
“We’ve had a good five, six years now under Chris’s leadership. Obviously it’s an important role,” he said.
“We need to look at it very thoroughly. I need to speak with Novak, Rafa (Nadal), and Andy (Murray) a little bit just to get their take on it all.”
In recent days Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios have expressed support for Kermode, illustrating the divided nature of the men’s game.
Top Australian coach Darren Cahill, who until recently was working with world number one Simona Halep, said he would be stunned if Kermode was removed.
“Big increases in prize money, pension plan, new events, doubles initiative supporter, new progressive rules for injured players & LL’s (lucky losers), challenger increases, facility upgrades ++,” he tweeted.
“I’d be stunned if Chris Kermode is removed. ATP needs stability right now.”
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 two-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion was accused of attacking one-time friend Randall Kaplan. He pleaded not guilty.
“With the board member (Gimelstob), we know the situation. It’s pending,” said Federer.
“But it’s definitely interesting times, I’d like to call it, not bad times in our sport,” he added.
“I think it’s maybe also a bit of a transition time. So it will be interesting to see what’s going to happen.”
Djokovic said the players council was “comfortable” with Gimelstob remaining a board member despite the charges against him.
“If he is not proven guilty, he stays innocent, or he’s proven guilty, that’s a completely different situation for us and we have to address it,” he said. — AFP