Vi­o­lence claims land ten­nis iden­tity in dif­fer­ent court

Sunday Mail - - SPORT - LEO SCHLINK

AMER­I­CAN ten­nis iden­tity Justin Gimel­stob re­turns to court this week over claims of al­leged vi­o­lence and threats to kill, as one of the sport’s most pow­er­ful or­gan­i­sa­tions grap­ples with the is­sue.

Gimel­stob sits on the ATP Tour board and has the sup­port of the player coun­cil, led by Novak Djokovic. But his pres­ence in a po­si­tion of huge in­flu­ence is a grow­ing con­cern for sev­eral cur­rent and for­mer play­ers, af­ter his ar­rest for al­legedly at­tack­ing for­mer friend Ran­dall Ka­plan, in Los An­ge­les, on Oc­to­ber 31.

Gimel­stob is al­leged to have re­peat­edly struck Ka­plan from be­hind, de­liv­er­ing up to 50 blows, while dressed as a top gun pi­lot.

The at­tack prompted Lley­ton He­witt to chal­lenge the ATP Tour to “lead by ex­am­ple” ahead of next month’s Aus­tralian Open. The player coun­cil will meet via con­fer­ence call af­ter Wed­nes­day’s sched­uled court ap­pear­ance to dis­cuss the is­sue.

Gimel­stob stepped down from his role as an­a­lyst with the Ten­nis Chan­nel but has con­tin­ued on the ATP board, ef­fec­tively con­tin­u­ing to rep­re­sent Roger Fed­erer, Rafael Nadal and oth­ers.

He re­tains the sup­port of most of the coun­cil, which re­moved Roger Rasheed from the board af­ter the South Aus­tralian sup­ported a pay deal dis­ap­proved of by Djokovic and oth­ers.

Djokovic is be­lieved to have sup­ported Gimel­stob’s push for a much larger pay in­crease – a ma­noeu­vre viewed as shal­low and preda­tory.

Re­leased on bail fol­low­ing the al­leged at­tack, Gimel­stob has also been placed on a re­strain­ing order. News of the al­leged at­tack was fol­lowed by claims that Gimel­stob has a “pat­tern of vi­o­lence”, re­port­edly in­volv­ing his es­tranged wife.

A medi­ocre player, Gimel­stob ruf­fled feath­ers at Wim­ble­don in July with what many con­sid­ered ex­ces­sive court­side be­hav­iour dur­ing John Is­ner’s semi-fi­nal clash with Kevin An­der­son.

Fist-pump­ing and yelling, he re­peat­edly roared sup­port for Is­ner in a dis­play which an­gered some for­mer cham­pi­ons and cur­rent play­ers.

Is­ner and An­der­son both sit on the player coun­cil.

As it cur­rently stands, with his ally David Edges re­turn­ing to the board to re­place Rasheed, Gimel­stob seems safe on the board.

But the player coun­cil meet­ing af­ter Wed­nes­day’s court ap­pear­ance could be cru­cial to his fu­ture role.

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