Djokovic cen­tre stage in player power push

The Dominion Post - - Sport -

A war is brew­ing be­hind the scenes of the Aus­tralian Open over player pay and power.

The gov­ern­ing body be­hind the men’s pro­fes­sional tour, the ATP, seems set to lurch into cri­sis af­ter the Open, with sug­ges­tions of a player mutiny.

At the an­nual play­ers meet­ing in Mel­bourne on Satur­day, play­ers coun­cil pres­i­dent No­vak Djokovic re­port­edly voted against ex­tend­ing the ten­ure of ATP chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Ker­mode, a move that could set off dra­matic changes in the tour’s di­rec­tion.

Djokovic wouldn’t con­firm his vote, cit­ing the meet­ing’s con­fi­den­tial­ity.

‘‘The de­ci­sion hasn’t been made on the pres­i­dent,’’ Djokovic said. ‘‘Whether there’s a re­newal or not, it’s go­ing to be de­cided in the next pe­riod.’’

Also on Sun­day, Roger Fed­erer con­ceded ‘‘a lot is hap­pen­ing’’ be­hind the scenes and he would take sound­ings from other play­ers on their views.

‘‘It’s def­i­nitely in­ter­est­ing times, I’d like to call it, not bad times in our sport. It’s maybe also a bit of a tran­si­tion time. So it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what’s go­ing to hap­pen,’’ he said.

The ATP board will vote on the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s lead­er­ship af­ter the Open. If Ker­mode is re­placed, one man who has been touted as a re­place­ment is Ten­nis Aus­tralia and Aussie Open boss Craig Ti­ley.

Aus­tralian su­per-coach Dar­ren Cahill railed against a change on Twit­ter, say­ing Ker­mode had brought ‘‘big in­creases in prize money, pen­sion plan, new events, dou­bles ini­tia­tive sup­porter, new pro­gres­sive rules for in­jured play­ers . . . fa­cil­ity up­grades’’.

‘‘I’d be stunned if Chris Ker­mode is re­moved. ATP needs sta­bil­ity right now,’’ he wrote.

Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyr­gios have also ex­pressed sup­port for Ker­mode, show­ing the di­vided na­ture of the men’s game.

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