Nadal questions desire to oust ATP CEO, Djokovic defends council

Nadal questions desire to oust ATP CEO, Djokovic defends council

CEO Chris Kermode's contract might not be renewed by the representatives on the ATP board.

ATP players are questioning a potential move to oust the tour's CEO Chris Kermode following revelations that his contract might not be renewed by their representatives on the board.

According to the London Telegraph, the ATP board will vote in the next few weeks on whether to renew, with Kermode requiring two votes from each of the three player and three tournament representatives. The ATP Player Council, which elects the board representatives, appears to have tentatively voted against Kermode.

According to L'Equipe, the 10-player Council voted 5-4 against the current CEO, with the council's president Novak Djokovic, John Isner and Vasek Pospisil among those five votes. That could heavily influence the player board members, especially since former board member Roger Rasheed was kicked off a few months ago for voting in favor of a prize money agreement that the council did not like.

The topic was also discussed at the player meeting before the Australian Open, attended by most of the Top 100 ATP players.

Rafael Nadal, speaking to press at the Australian Open, complained that he had not heard about it beforehand.

"I am not in the council anymore, and at the same time, nobody from the council side came to me and asked me my opinion," the world No. 2 said. "So I can't have a real opinion on all of this, because no one of my representatives came to me and asked me if I am happy with the president or not.

"Some crucial decisions like this, I don't know, I understand that somebody from the council should come to me and ask my position."

Roger Federer said he planned to speak to Nadal and Djokovic about the issue during the tournament.

Asked if he would also go speak to Djokovic, Nadal said, "He's in the council or all the players are on the council, they have to come to me. That's why they are in the council and I am not in the council anymore. When I was in the council, that was me I have to go to the players and ask their opinions. It's not my work anymore."

But Nadal did state that he would tell them it would be "good for the sport" if Kermode stayed as CEO.

"By the way, if they want to read my opinion, I tell you," he said. "I think I believe in the projects at long-term, not short-term. I believe that is not good to have changes all the time, because is difficult to develop a good project of work if we have changes every three, four years."

"I believe that Kermode probably did some good work there, and I don't see him doing negative things or enough negative things in the position. That today probably he knows the world of tennis better than a new person that should come."

Djokovic declined to confirm the council's vote, saying it was private, but did defend the council's role.

"The decision has not been made," Djokovic said. "The representatives on the council, player board representatives, will talk with Roger, Rafa, anybody who is interested to have a discussion about this.

"For us, it's an additional energy and effort. But I think, at least from my perspective, I do it because I care about the sport and I care about players. I want to be able to use my status to contribute to positive changes."

Federer said he had kept up with developments, but wanted further involvement from the top names.

"I knew about it. I really tried to be interested, to be quite honest," he said. "But it's hard, especially through the offseason, to stay in touch with everybody. The problem with Rafa, as well, he's been away a little bit through injury. So somebody has to call him.

"I also definitely want to speak to Rafa now that he's back on tour," he added. "We're here, we're playing the same day. I would like to meet him on an off day and get his take. Look, it's a big decision-making time right now. I think it's important that Rafa, Novak, and me, we get together."

Another council member, Vasek Pospisil wrote a letter that was apparently sent to players between 50 and 100 in the ATP rankings. It said "the governance structure of the ATP favours the interests of the tournaments" and players require "a CEO that first and foremost represents OUR interests."

Added Pospisil, "The ATP represents the tournaments and we fight and scrape for every inch because we have not acted as a unified body."

Some players asked for comment have publicly backed Kermode.

"The most important will be to keep our president," Stan Wawrinka told the Telegraph. "I personally think if  you look about the tennis, about the image, about the  prize money and about everything–he did a great job by upgrading everything."

And Robin Haase, speaking to the newspaper, said, "Is the ATP healthy? In a good place? I think yes. Because I just look at the numbers. And the numbers are great. And for me it is that simple actually."

Grigor Dimitrov told press that removing the CEO would be the wrong move, and Nick Kyrgios said "I personally like Chris" and the ATP was "going in the right direction" with initiatives like the ATP Cup.

"I don't think there should be any change," Stefanos Tsitsipas said. "He's a lovely guy. The tour is growing, things are changing for the good of the players."

Alex de Minaur, who will play Nadal in the third round of the Australian Open, agreed with Tsitsipas. 

"Since I've come in, I mean, everything has been fine. I mean, the innovations they've gone through, brought in the NextGen for us newcomers," he said. "Since I started playing, the prize money has gone up. Everything has been incredible for the players. I think it's stupid to change really."

The ATP has not issued any comment.