PLAYER UN­REST COULD COST ATP CHIEF

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

The Straits Times - - SPORT -

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 strong­ly­worded 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”.

PHOTO: REUTERS

De­fend­ing cham­pion Roger Fed­erer is aware of the peck­ing or­der in Mel­bourne, with top-ranked No­vak Djokovic the clear favourite in his eyes.

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