Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Return to Leadership Roles in Tennis


Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic can usually count on seeing one another at the business end of Grand Slam tournaments, with 45 matches among them at majors.

Now, they will do business together at Grand Slam events as well. The ATP announced Thursday that Federer and Nadal, along with Jürgen Melzer, were elected to fill vacant spots on the player council, the 10-member body for which the top-ranked Djokovic serves as president. The council next meets in New York just before the start of the United States Open.

Federer and Nadal, two of tennis’s most powerful and popular players, have been on the council before; Federer was president from 2008 to 2014. Their elections, however, feel less like a triumphant return and more like a rescue mission.

The council hemorrhaged members during Wimbledon, when three players — Robin Haase, Jamie Murray and Sergiy Stakhovsky — abruptly quit. The exodus followed a contentious seven-hour meeting that capped months of deadlock over choosing a replacement for Justin Gimelstob, a player representative to the ATP board. Gimelstob resigned in May after pleading no contest to a felony battery charge.

The player council had also been divided over a decision in March not to renew the contract of the ATP chief executive, Chris Kermode. The move caught many in the tennis world off guard, including Federer and Nadal, who expressed their unhappiness at not being consulted.

“I tried to meet Novak on the deadline; unfortunately, he had no time,” Federer said in March at the tournament in Indian Wells, Calif. “That’s hard to understand for me.”

Nadal, who met with Federer at that tournament to discuss tour business, echoed the frustration.

“Nobody came to me to explain why this stuff happened,” Nadal told reporters. “I have my phone with me. So nobody texted me to speak about or to ask me about what’s my thoughts about that decision.”

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