Novak Djokovic was rendered ineligible from contesting this month's ATP Player Council elections, following which the Serb withdrew his candidature and made an official statement on his Twitter handle. But former player and ex-Australian Open CEO Paul McNamee believes the ATP is going against its own ideals by preventing the World No. 1 from representing his peers on the Council.
McNamee is a former World No. 24 in singles and a five-time doubles Slam champion. Having retired from tennis in 1988, the 66-year-old kept his association with the sport alive by taking on the role of Australian Open CEO until 2006. McNamee also played a crucial role in the founding of the now-defunct Hopman Cup, for which he served as the tournament director.
The Australian took to Twitter to reply to Novak Djokovic's statement, expressing support for the 17-time Slam champion and displeasure with the ATP for its actions. Paul McNamee feels that the ATP's founding members, including the late legend Arthur Ashe, would have never condoned such a move by the organization.
"It is with deep sadness that I read that the #1 player in the world is barred from representing his peers," McNamee wrote. "This was never, is not and will never be what the organization ought to stand for. The founders of the ATP, including the late great Arthur Ashe, would be ashamed."
According to the supposedly new rule passed by the ATP, no player having a conflict of interest with the body can be elected to the Player Council. 'Conflict of interest' for the purpose of this rule would include an association with another player organization.
Novak Djokovic was the President of the Council from 2016 until 2020, and has always been very active in resolving player issues on the tour. But due to his association with the newly formed Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) as its co-founder and member, Djokovic can no longer be a part of the Council.
The Serb was in fact nominated for the elections by his fellow players, but he had to turn down the nomination owing to the ATP rule.
Is the ATP deliberately trying to keep Novak Djokovic away from the Player Council?
While announcing his withdrawal Novak Djokovic stressed that he realized the importance of not having conflicts of interest, and thus understood the ATP's decision. But the Serb did also take a shot at the governing body by adding that he hoped the rule would be applied consistently at all levels and not just with regard to the PTPA.
"I hope that, going forward, this is not only applied to the formation of new associations at the player level but further applied to all levels within the ATP structure," Djokovic said in his statement.
The controversial PTPA has been in the news ever since it was brought into existence in September by Novak Djokovic along with co-founder Vasek Pospisil. Last month, when news of Djokovic contending for the fresh elections of the Player Council broke, the Serb was heavily criticized in the media. He was even called a "hypocrite" for trying to get back after having resigned just a few months earlier.
But Novak Djokovic hit back at his critics with a strongly worded response, calling out the media for twisting the facts.
Since then, many in the tennis community have alleged that the ATP is pursuing an agenda against the Serb. They have cited how several other instances of conflict of interest in tennis have gone unnoticed, and claimed that the new rule was passed only to prevent Djokovic's nomination.
The ATP is yet to respond to the World No. 1's latest statement, but it seems clear that we haven't heard the last of this matter.Published 22 Dec 2020, 20:19 IST