As the ATP Tour transitions from hard courts to clay, the shockwaves of the decision to oust Chris Kermode as mens tennis chief continue to reverberate.
High-profile names have been at the centre of the affair to date. Player council president and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic has been publicly criticised by great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for his role in the removal of the ATP CEO.
Kermode was voted out unanimously by ATP player board representatives David Egdes, Alex Inglot and the controversial Justin Gimelstob – who cast his vote despite facing charges of battery in Los Angeles.
The council itself was locked at five votes apiece, with Djokovic the ringleader of those backing Kermodes departure, but few outside the 10-man group have publicly supported the decision to remove him.
However, while the likes of Stan Wawrinka, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Nadal and Federer – none of whom are on the council – have openly voiced their displeasure, several lower-profile figures offered their support to Djokovic and co. at the Mouratoglou Open – a second-tier Challenger event held at the academy of Serena Williams coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
One particularly disgruntled player – a veteran at Challenger level – expressed his delight at Kermodes removal, taking a swipe at Nadal and Federer in the process.
Djokovic is absolutely right, the source told Metro.co.uk. The wealth is not shared anywhere near well enough.
Its all very well Nadal and Federer being happy with Kermode – they get a huge slice of the pie!
Dont get me wrong… the top-10 players deserve to make a handsome living out of this sport. I just think more could be done to help us lower-ranked guys.
The same source was critical of the organisation as a whole, particularly when referencing the controversial new ITF World Tennis Tour.
Everyone is hammering them [the ITF] but the ATP are throwing them under the bus, he added.
The ITF are blinkered but at least they are trying to do the right thing. They have good intentions.
The ATP… it just feels like a power grab. They want the ITF to fail for their own benefit.
One member of the player council, the Netherlands Robin Haase, was on hand to discuss political matters just moments after claiming the doubles title with compatriot Thiemo de Bakker.
A criticism levelled at those championing Kermode has been the lack of voice given to the lower-ranked players, but Haase played down the significance of providing them a public platform.
Are guys represented in the council from 100 and lower? Not really. Do we talk to them and try to talk to them? Yeah, some do. Some dont but thats also logical, the 32-year-old told Metro.co.uk.
The question sometimes is, in the topics we talk about, how much do they know about it but also how much do they want to know about it? How much do they actually care?
Or do they care – just in general Im talking, from No. 1 in the world to No. 200 – are they there for their own interest? Thats always tough.
Its not easy and what you also have to remind them a little bit is that the council is there to advise, not to make changes. Thats our board that does that. We have no voting rights whatsoever.
So its a little bit, I feel like, should they be heard more in the media? Why should they actually be talked about in the media at all?
I dont understand many things that are going on that the media tries to get involved and they have also not all the information. I dont like that and I think some things should just stay in the room or stay in tennis and not just all around the room.
Whether their voices are heard or not is, in many ways, a lesser concern for mens tennis in the immediate future.
Tournament council members were left reeling at the player boards decision to give Kermode the boot and there are fears that the organisation will be without a permanent CEO for the foreseeable future, due to a lack of trust between tournaments and players.
Is Haase concerned about the deadlock between the two sides?
Its going to be tough, for sure, he added. I dont like that the tournaments… how the tournament side is now saying they really dont like it. Half a year ago they said they would kick him out (a claim strongly denied by tournament council members).
Its always a little bit of a situation where why do we get the media involved? Its not necessary. We have to figure it out ourselves. I hope we can. In the end, thats why I came to the council to try to make a difference for tennis.
I think we need to work together, the players have to work with the tournaments and not only think about themselves because if the tournaments do well, the players will do also better, its a circle. But also the ATP has to work with the Grand Slams, ATP has to work with the ITF, however, some tournaments or some like the ITF theyre also not easy to work with.
A lot of the time the ATP is getting blamed but I think the ATP is doing right is keeping the honour to themselves and not giving all the dirty laundry to the media.
Progress is expected to be slow in finding a suitable replacement for Kermode – let alone one both players and tournaments will pass through – but Haase is confident the governing body for mens tennis remains in good shape with or without a permanent CEO.
At the moment I probably know as much as you, he said. There are two or three things going on right now that are important for us to figure out and this takes time anyway, this will take for sure half a year to I guess head hunt, to find someone and until the 31st of December Chris is there so the ATP is still going well.
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