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Novak: ATP Politics Are a Draining Duty

ATP politics can be a distraction and a drain, but fulfilling his role as president is a duty, says Novak Djokovic.

The ATP player council president was asked his response to buddy Janko Tipsarevic’s comments to The Tennis Podcast suggesting Djokovic is nuts to expend his time and energy in the political side of the sport.

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Djokovic says it's vital to express his voice during this important time of change in the sport.

One of those changes was the 15-time Grand Slam champion’s vote against extending the contract of ATP Chief Chris Kermode, whose tenure will end at the end of 2019.

“His comment concerning my involvement in the tennis politics, from certain perspective, makes sense, conserving the energy and kind of trying to focus on, in a way, what matters the most for me: obviously family and tennis,” Djokovic told the media in Monte-Carlo. “But at the same time, it is the conscious, responsible decision I made to be part of it, partly because I also feel that players want me to be there. I was kind of re-elected to be there and re-elected as the president to run another term.

“We all, in the council, don’t get any financial compensation or anything like that. It’s all volunteer, you know, volunteering job. Council has been more active than ever, in my opinion, in terms of communication. So it does take probably more time, but at the same time, we all feel and understand that this is an important time for tennis, a lot of different changes and a lot of different rule changes and new events.”

Fellow Grand Slam champions and rivals Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka each made public statements of support for Kermode.

Federer said he tried to talk to Djokovic about the issue in Indian Wells, but it never happened. Instead, Federer and Nadal met for coffee in Indian Wells with the 20-time Grand Slam champion saying the pair are on the same page in exerting a greater influence in political decisions.

In Miami, Djokovic said he welcomes the input of all players in the process.

“We welcome them," Djokovic told the media in Miami. "I welcome them. Everybody welcomes them as anybody else who wants to join the political discussions. I have to remind you that that player council is only part of the structure. We are not part of the board.

"We are not deciding anything that has been voted on later on.

Though he’s council president, Djokovic points out he doesn’t make decisions alone—though his influence is immense.

“Obviously the transition tour situation and everything that’s happening is quite serious,” Djokovic said. “It’s affecting a lot of players. That’s one of the most important things to address at the moment and that we are talking about.

“So look, I’m just one of the ten players. Yes, I’m president of the council, but I’m one of the ten players, and I’m part of 50 percent of the whole structure. So I can’t make any calls by myself. You know, there is no doubt about that.”

Photo credit: Christopher Levy