Roger Federer largely stayed out of the debate after the ouster of Chris Kermode as ATP President, but broke his silence Monday and said there needs to be greater clarity on where the sport is headed. Kermode announced Friday that he wouldn’t be extending his six-year term at the helm of the body that governs men’s tennis after the Player Council, led by Novak Djokovic, voted him out. The world no.1 men’s singles player is widely reported to have taken the lead in ensuring Kermode’s exit.
Federer, who had praised Kermode’s leadership in January, said Monday that the decision-makers need to clarify as to where tennis is headed. Federer was speaking after his 6-1 7-5 win over Peter Gojowczyk at Indian Wells.
Rafael Nadal had lent his support to Kermode in a press conference ahead of the Indian Wells tournament. Federer said that both the Spaniard’s and his views, on the need to clarify the future of the sport, are aligned.
“I spoke with Rafa the other day. He came to the house, we had coffee together and we were just going through what is going on. What I am happy about is that we are aligned and we agree that we should be talking and coming up with a proper plan. I’d like to here that from the Council and some more players just to get a better idea of what is really going on,” he said.
Kermode has been at the helm of the ATP since January 2014. Under his leadership, prize money for players in ATP tournaments have seen a sharp increase, but Djokovic reportedly is of the view that it has not trickled down to players outside the elite level. Reports also say that the 10-member Player Council was split 5-5 on the decision to oust Kermode.
When asked about the future of the sport, Federer said, “I’m not quite sure, to be honest. We are in a very interesting time where we need to have a clear plan and I’m not sure what the plan is. That is the big thing I worry about.”
Federer said that the sport remains healthy on-court, but the political rumbles in the backdrop is a different case.
“I do believe we have unbelievable players, great matches, new guys coming through, stadiums are full, prize money has gone up… I don’t know where to start. ATP has got its own cup coming, the Davis Cup is changing its format, we’ll see how that will be, Laver Cup is doing really well. So from that standpoint, everything is going great but then you look at politics you go, oh my god, what’s going on here,” Federer said.
“I think we really need to figure it out and we need to get the pulse of where we are about to go. Clearly we are going to need to decide who the new CEO is going to be. The political side of the game has to do that but I think I would like to take a role to some extent in as much time as I have just to be part of the process,” he said.
Federer has previously headed the Player Council but largely stayed out of the political side of the game since stepping down from the role in June 2014.
Kermode has received considerable support since his ouster. Stan Wawrinka’s former coach Magnus Norman said on Twitter it was a “sad day for the ATP Tour. Incredible job this man did for the players and the tournaments. Nothing but respect.” Stephen Farrow, who succeeded Kermode running the Queen’s tournament, said: “This is so, so disappointing. An outstanding leader who has made a huge and lasting impact on the ATP and has had so much success in so many areas of the business. A huge loss for the ATP and a big blow for the sport.”
Judy Murray tweeted: “Sad to read this.” Greg Rusedski said: “Surprising announcement considering all he achieved during his tenure. Can’t wait to hear from the players and board members the reasons?”