Player power victim Kermode to depart ATP at end of year
Chris Kermode appears to have fallen victim to player power after the ATP, the governing body for men’s professional tennis, announced that his contract as executive chairman and president will not be renewed when his current term expires at the end of 2019.
A faction of the players, believed to be spearheaded by Novak Djokovic as ATP player council president, led a campaign in Melbourne during the Australian Open against extending the Briton's tenure.
However, some other top players, including Rafael Nadal, are reported to have wanted him to stay.
There are three tournament representatives on the ATP board and three player representatives, and Kermode needed two from each side to support him for his contract to be renewed.
Djokovic declined to criticise Kermode directly, but said of the organisation: “We have the inaugural ATP Cup in 2020, we have the Next Gen Finals – there are a lot of positives, without a doubt. But also there’s a lot of things that are happening internally that need a lot of addressing.
“The structure is flawed. The president has to be a tie-breaker in many situations. In most cases there is a conflict of interest. It is a very difficult position to be in as president because you have to choose between the two [players and tournaments].
“So, I feel it’s something we have to address as a group, the governing structure. I feel like it’s time to make changes to protect the president and release him from pressure and to hopefully also have some independent input on things.”The ATP paid Kermode a glowing tribute in its announcement of his impending departure, saying: “Kermode became ATP Executive Chairman & President at the beginning of 2014. His six-year tenure at the helm of the ATP has seen record prize money and commercial growth for the organisation, while attendance and viewership of the ATP Tour has soared.
“Kermode’s vision and leadership since 2014 has been instrumental in the creation of landmark new ATP events such as the award-winning Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, as well as the upcoming ATP Cup in 2020 in partnership with Tennis Australia. He has overseen the remarkable success of the Nitto ATP Finals in London since 2009 and has also played a critical role in forging some of the biggest sponsorships in the sport, such as the ATP Premier Partnership with Emirates since 2015.”
Kermode said: “It’s been a privilege to serve as ATP Executive Chairman & President since 2014 and I’m very proud of what we have achieved during this time. I would like to thank everyone at the ATP, and all the players and tournaments for the support over the years. I remain fully dedicated to the role for the remainder of my term and wish the organisation every success in the future.”
The ATP Cup, a new men's national teams tennis tournament run by the ATP and Tennis Australia that poses a direct threat to the International Tennis Federation’s revamped Davis Cup, aims to launch in January 2020, armed with $15 million in prize money.
The ATP Cup will feature 24 teams (the top countries in the men’s singles rankings), split into six groups of four, competing over a 10-day period in three Australian cities, which will be unveiled within the next month.
The inaugural event will take place on 3 to 12 January, 2020, one week before the Australian Open, the opening grand slam of the year.