Djokovic and Federer are yet to discuss the political situation (Picture: Corbis via Getty Images)Roger Federer was not surprised at the string of resignations on the ATP player council but confessed he had still not managed to discuss the political situation with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion revealed he had convinced Robin Haase – one of four people to quit the council over the weekend along with Jamie Murray, Sergiy Stakhovsky and coaches representative Dani Vallverdu – not to throw in the towel at Indian Wells earlier this year, but the Dutchman has now decided enough is enough.
Tensions have been running high behind the scenes of the ATP Tour, with a Justin Gimelstob-led faction ultimately deciding men’s tennis chief Chris Kermode’s contract would not be extended – a move which has led to months of in-fighting politically.
It all came to a head on the eve of Wimbledon as the ATP player representative seat left vacant by disgraced Gimelstob – who entered a no contest plea for assault charges in Los Angeles – was temporarily filled by Weller Evans, who once discribed Gimelstob as the ‘conscious’ of tennis, despite the players being deadlocked at five votes apiece.
Haase complained that the representation is not at the ‘right level’ to move tennis forward and Federer expressed his concern at the situation, particularly with tennis, in his opinion, in a good position.
‘Well, I mean, I knew from Robin that he was contemplating to pull the plug in Indian Wells,’ he said after his first-round win over Lloyd Harris. ‘I motivated him to stay on, to keep doing it, feel like he can add value, because I thought he did. Some others, too, I guess.
Roger Federer batted away political questions (Picture: Getty Images)‘It doesn’t come all that surprising, especially if you really feel like you have no impact. It’s definitely not a good situation. And I think also it’s not like the tour is in a bad place.
‘We have record numbers in terms of I’m sure prize money, attendance. Things are going well. Just seems on the political side we’re struggling a little bit to figure that part out.
Federer, who hinted he would consider a return to the political scene after Kermode was voted out, had said he would arrange a meeting with Djokovic earlier this year, but that still hasn’t come to fruition – something that’s somewhat surprising in the digital age.
‘Yeah, they had a long meeting. I don’t know what was spoken in those seven hours,’ the Swiss added. ‘I have not spoken to Novak since, or yet, so…
‘I don’t know what to tell you. I’m honestly not in the mood to talk politics. We’re on the second day of Wimbledon, and that is your last question you had about politics today. Other guys would like to talk about maybe forehands and backhands. But I respect your questions. No problem.’
Tim Henman early told Metro.co.uk that the situation was ‘worrying’ and ‘chaotic’.
‘The optics of it don’t look good, do they? The ATP and the structure and the player representation seems like it’s pretty chaotic. It’s not something that I’m involved in but as a tennis fan and a former tennis player, I think it’s worrying.’
Tim Henman discussed the political situation (Picture: Getty Images for HSBC)The structure of the ATP – which represents both players and tournaments – splits opinion, with player council president Djokovic and vice-president Kevin Anderson disagreeing over whether it’s fit for purpose.
Henman believes it is a functional system, but confessed it did present challenges.
‘It’s fit for purpose but it’s challenging because it’s made up of 50% players and 50% tournaments,’ he added.
‘So if the players are saying we’d like more prize money and the tournaments are saying well we’re the ones who’ve got to pay it and you’ve got three votes each, you’re going to get a deadlock a lot of the time.
‘It’s a challenging structure but it’s been there for a long time and it’s up to them to resolve those issues.’