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'Personal gain' and 'Vendettas' lead to four ATP player council members resigning on the eve of Wimbledon

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 30 Jun 2019
  • Four members of the ATP player council have resigned
  • It comes on the back of a seven-hour meeting on Friday that led to Weller
Novak Djokovic (PA Images)

Four members of the ATP player council have resigned following a seven-hour meeting on Friday that finished after midnight.

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Jamie Murray, Robin Haase, Sergiy Stakhovsky and coach Dani Vallverdu all stepped down from their respective voluntary roles on the player council as the messy political landscape of the ATP World Tour took another twist on the eve of Wimbledon.

In-fighting on tour was first publicly revealed during the Indian Wells Masters in March after outgoing president Chris Kermode was controversially denied a contract extension by the three representatives on the players board, which at the time included Justin Gimelstob.

Gimelstob has since resigned from his position on the board after he was found guilty of violent assault by a Los Angeles courtroom in April.

Friday night’s board meeting was held in an attempt to replace Gimelstob with the choice of two candidates: former top 10 player Nicolas Lapentti or former ATP executive Weller Evans. The 10-man player council were split 5-5 on the decision when they last voted in Rome, and they voted the same way again ahead of Wimbledon.

This meant the other two player representatives - David Egdes and Alex Inglot - were to decide the vote and it was Evans who was ultimately elected.

Evans is believed to be an ally of Gimelstob, once describing him as “the conscience of the sport” in 2012, while Gimelstob once labeled Egdes as his “best friend forever”.

Haase, Stakhovsky, Murray and Vallverdu were all thought to be supporters of Lapentti, which acted as the final straw that broke the camel’s back as they all announced their resignations on Saturday.

“It has been a privilege to represent my fellow players; however despite it being a time consuming effort, it has been an unproductive year. I do not feel I can represent the players in the way I should do. Moreover, I think that our representation is not at the right level to move tennis forward,” Haase said on social media.

Stakhovsky, who replaced Italian player Stefano Travaglia (who also resigned) on the council in January, also expressed his disappointment at not being able to best represent his fellow players.

“In the light of recent events, I don’t believe my involvement in the player council is having any impact on the process of what the future will bring for our Tour or how it will be shaped,” Stakhovsky posted on Twitter. 
“The matters which will come to light in time completely discredit our structure and free will to perform our obligation and our duty to represent the players. It is very sad to see that personal gain and vendettas are at the heart of such a big disconnection in the player’s council.”

Meanwhile, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic addressed the situation in detail during his pre-Wimbledon press conference on Saturday.

“I think it's a system and a structure that keeps on failing us. I've been saying this before. We are all here as volunteers, as guys that are trying to do the role responsibly and also make sure that players are represented, different groups of players are represented.
“As president of the council, I can say that the last group that we have, or we had, is the most active one, the one that was dedicated the most, devoted the most. They wanted to make the difference, really cared about issues, constantly communicated between us as a group.
“Unfortunately the governing is structured in such a way that does not allow us to make any significant changes at our will. I've experienced that in the past when I was also not part of the council, when I was one of the 14 out of 15 players signing the document that had three points we requested from ATP management and our representatives to consider and follow up on; nothing was done.”

Djokovic feels he has been made a scapegoat for all the negative press surrounding the entire saga and after hinting that his team has urged him to step down from his role, said one of his biggest irritations over the last few months is the leaking of information from behind closed doors to the media.

“It violates the confidentiality of the group. If someone leaks an information and points out specifically one name or another for voting this way or that way, what's the point of being there and trying to be part of that system? Might as well have cameras and publicly broadcast everything that we talk about.”

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"Personal gain" and "Vendettas" lead to four ATP player council members resigning on the eve of Wimbledon

Four members of the ATP player council have resigned following a seven-hour meeting on Friday that finished after midnight.

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