Snubbed by Djokovic, Switzerland's Roger Federer is not happy. Picture: KARIM SAHIB/AFP
Snubbed by Djokovic, Switzerland's Roger Federer is not happy. Picture: KARIM SAHIB/AFP

Federer blasts Novak over personal snub

ROGER Federer has revealed he was stood up by world No.1 Novak Djokovic over the controversial decision to axe ATP Tour boss Chris Kermode.

The war that has been playing out in the backroom of men's tennis - and was brought into the spotlight at the Australian Open in January - came to a messy ending last riday when it was announced Kermode's six-year term at the helm would not be extended.

The Players Council - led by Novak Djokovic - voted Kermode out. While Djokovic refused to confirm publicly whether he had spearheaded the charge to get rid of the ATP leader, it was widely reported the Serb was the driving force behind the change.

In his first public media opportunity at Indian Wells, Federer refused to discuss Djokovic's role specifically, but piled pressure on the council as a whole to explain the dramatic decision to slash the tour's chief executive.

Speaking after his win over Peter Gojowczyk at the tournament, Federer took his thinly veiled criticism of the council and Djokovic a step further when he revealed the Serbian star baulked at a meeting with the Swiss ace in the lead-up to Kermode's sacking.

Federer even suggested in his Swiss press conference that he might consider returning to the governance side of the ATP Tour because he was concerned by recent developments.

One of his biggest concerns is that Djokovic, who has refused to explain his role in the council's decision to advocate for Kermode's axing, and the rest of the council have not communicated why they decided to swing the axe.

Despite both players arriving at Indian Wells before the weekend, they still have not met up.

"I tried to meet Novak on the deadline (before the meeting)," Federer said.

"Unfortunately he had no time. That's hard to understand for me.

"He certainly had a lot to do with the whole story. I asked him if he had time to meet me, it was so busy. He suggested that we see each other the day after - but everything was already decided.

"We have not met yet and the tournament has started."

Federer said both he and Rafael Nadal were concerned that the council hadn't publicly defended the decision to look for a new tour boss.

"It's just important that I know why it happened, and what should happen now," Federer said.

"I want to know what the motive was, what it is Kermode does not seem to have done well. I would have tended to be more for him.

"In the past, there were always situations in which one had to say, 'He or she just has to go' - but that was not the case with Kermode. Only politics is in turmoil.

Chris Kermode didn’t have enough support to keep his job. Picture: Getty
Chris Kermode didn’t have enough support to keep his job. Picture: Getty

"I also talked to Rafa. We are on the same page, that's important to him and me. Many were behind Kermode.

"Not all have the same priorities. Some think primarily of money, others of the tournament calendar, others are more concerned with power, that's always a big story.

"I still have the feeling the tour is going well, we have great matches, the prize money went up, the stadiums are full."

Federer stepped down as the ATP Tour Council president in 2014, but he suggested he might look to make a comeback over how Kermode's sacking had been handled.

"It is hard for me to express a clear opinion because I am no longer politically active," Federer said.

"I'm already interested in what's behind it, why it happened like that.

"I have to think about whether I should get more involved again in the future, for the sake of the tour.

"Or if I should just get involved a bit instead of going through politics."

Some stars such as Players Council member Vasek Pospisil wanted Kermode gone but others such as Stan Wawrinka and Nadal were firmly against the change in leadership because they believed men's tennis had been booming in recent years.

In public, Federer had previously stayed out of the debate and distanced himself from any talk about pushing for Kermode's removal. However, some media reports claimed he was on Nadal's side and opted not to attend the Players Council meeting to decide Kermode's fate last week.

Federer also said he was worried those leading the sport didn't have a clear idea of where they wanted to go or how they planned to get there.

"I'm not quite surem to be honest," Federer told journalists Leif Shiras and Jon Wertheim on The Tennis Channel when asked what the future of tennis looked like.

"We're in a very interesting time where we need to have a clear plan and I'm not sure what the plan is. That's the big thing I worry about.

"We need to really figure it out and I'd like to feel the pulse a little bit about where we're about to go, because clearly we're going to need to decide who the new CEO (of the ATP) is going to be, or the political side of the game has got to do that."

Novak Djokovic reportedly led the charge to get rid of Kermode. Picture: AP
Novak Djokovic reportedly led the charge to get rid of Kermode. Picture: AP

Nadal has been a vocal critic of those demanding a leadership change at the ATP, saying just last week Kermode had done a "good job" and deserved to stay on.

He also warned any drastic changes could derail the path tennis was on and risk future prosperity and growth.

Nadal raised those concerns after earlier complaining at the Australian Open nobody from the Players Council had even bothered to reach out to him and ask for his thoughts on Kermode or the state of the sport.

The Spaniard's pleas clearly fell on deaf ears.

Federer said he and Nadal were on the same page when it came to wanting more clarity.

"What I am happy about is we're aligned and we agree that we should be talking and coming up with a proper plan," Federer said of their meeting.

"I'd like to hear that from the council and some more players and people just to get an idea what's really going on, to be quite honest."