Commenting for the first time on the Justin Gimelstob situation, player council member Novak Djokovic supported the American’s decision to resign because of the pressure it was putting on the players, and, from the sound of it, not necessarily the violent incident which took place last fall and led to the former tour player to wind up in legal trouble.
“Under the circumstances it was a wise decision from his side and it’s been a very hot topic in the last period,” Djokovic told the Madrid press Tuesday. “And it’s unfortunate because I think he has been probably the biggest asset that players had in the last ten-plus years that he’s been on the tour representing players. But at the same time, these are kind of unfortunate circumstances and he needs to go back and deal with that, deal with that case and try to find the right balance and the right state of mind before he eventually tries to come back.
“I think just at this point it was better for him to step down because the whole case was just posing so much pressure and obstacles for the tour in general, but specifically for players. And, yeah, so I think it was a good decision.”
Last week, Gimelstob flew to Spain to tell Djokovic in person that he was stepping down after 11 years. And as he said, he left the door open for Gimelstob to “come back”.
Djokovic, who with the help of Gimelstob, reportedly led the charge to remove ATP CEO Chris Kermode, but now he says maybe the Brit could also come back.
“He has the right to be a candidate officially for another mandate,” Djokovic said. “And I don’t know whether he wants to do that or not. I haven’t spoken to him about it. But if this happens, yeah, why not.”
Djokovic added that things do need to change with the way the ATP does business.
“Communication from the council and board reps and the whole structure, political structure if you want to call it, side can be improved,” he said. “But also vice versa. There are a lot of times where players don’t give you much space to approach them because during the tournament everyone is in their zone and they don’t want to be disturbed.”
Djokovic opened his Madrid event today with a good win over Taylor Fritz. His last title came at the Australian Open. This week is his 250th on top of the ATP Rankings.
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