The tennis world has reacted with shock over the unexpected news that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have returned to the ATP Players Council.
The political turmoil in men's tennis took another twist on Thursday when the grand slam legends were re-elected on to the Council, along with Austrian Juergen Melzer.
The bombshell move means Federer and Nadal are likely to find themselves at odds with president and current World No.1 Novak Djokovic, and comes after months of upheaval and uncertainty in the men’s game.
The news follows the resignations of Robin Haase, Jamie Murray and Sergiy Stakhovsky before Wimbledon following a seven-hour meeting to thrash out a range of issues including a replacement for former player representative Justin Gimelstob.
"They will begin their roles with immediate effect and will serve until the end of the existing term which runs through to Wimbledon 2020," a statement from the ATP read.
Political turmoil rocks Players Council
Friction has dogged the Player Council this year since ATP president Chris Kermode failed to gain support for another term.
Djokovic has clashed with many fellow players, with disagreements centred on the decision to dispense with the services of Kermode - a popular figure in tennis.
Federer and Nadal were staunch advocates for Kermode and publicly criticised the decision to vote him out.
Other issues include the distribution of prize money.
Splits widened at Wimbledon when Djokovic was taken to task over his relationship with the disgraced Gimelstob.
Gimelstob was one of those who sided against Kermode but resigned in May after coming under pressure to do so after pleading no contest to an assault charge.
The American former Tour player has continued to try to clear his name, while Djokovic has come under fire for refusing to rule out a possible return to the board for Gimelstob.
"I have friendly relationship with Justin," said Djokovic at Wimbledon.
Federer, a 20-times grand slam champion, is a former president of the Player Council while Nadal, who has won 18 majors, quit his vice-president role in 2012.
Both men have expressed frustration this year at not being consulted by the Council on a range of major issues, however didn’t seem keen on re-joining the Council.
Jamie Murray was one of the first players to congratulate Nadal and Federer.
"Massive shout out to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for stepping up to join the ATP Player Council," he tweeted.
"Despite the sport's current success, we live in chaotic times. My biggest achievement in the Council may well prove to be being part of the group of resignations that presented the opportunity for this to happen. Good luck!"
— Jamie Murray (@jamie_murray) August 8, 2019
The rest of the tennis world reacted with shock, with many left stunned that Federer and Nadal - who both previously said they had little interest in re-joining the Council - had seemingly backflipped.
Wowzers. This is a big deal for the future of the ATP Tour. Rafael Nadal & Roger Federer voiced their displeasure with the leadership earlier this year and now decided to rejoin the Council run by Novak Djokovic. Would love to be a fly on the wall in those meetings... https://t.co/PMv0NBJs2s
— Uche Amako (@UcheAmako) August 8, 2019
Good lord I hope they’re a productive combination. History suggests otherwise, but the sport *needs* cohesive action.
— Matthew Willis (@MattRacquet) August 8, 2019
History? Federer/Nadal famously couldn't agree on much during their original stint as Pres and VP. And Fedal were vocally opposed to recent player council activity led by Novak.
— Matthew Willis (@MattRacquet) August 8, 2019
Federer,Nadal & Melzer in the @ATP_Tour Player Council...interesting!!
— Nicolás Pereira (@nicolaspereira) August 8, 2019
ATP announces that Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Jurgen Melzer have joined the ATP Player Council.
Great news! Fedal are going to shake things up!
— Olly (@Olly_ATP_2019) August 8, 2019
well then federer and nadal are joining the players council thats a move i didnt see coming
— Carmine (@CarmineDust) August 8, 2019
Whoa - big news here with Federer and Nadal joining they ATP council. No offence to Jurgen Melzer of course :)
Been a lot of political drama this year. What comes next??? https://t.co/KVNtXzbahg
— Mike McIntyre (@protennisfan) August 8, 2019
It was expected that the remaining members of the council would elect players aligned with their own views to replace them ❗️ but instead they have chosen to bring in two of the biggest stars in the game along with Austrian veteran Jurgen Melzer.https://t.co/FJciwCyX7a
— C Kristjánsdóttir ●🐊 (@CristinaNcl) August 8, 2019
You may not want to but got to accept that Federer Nadal have entered council to check mate Djokovic who is having credibility issues as council leader. They’re going to hound him out of council.
— Enjoy Tennis (@enjoytennis100) August 8, 2019
Are things in tennis really that messy? Nobody ever truly spoke out about the players council situation. What will tennis do when there is no Federer or Nadal around? Roger already did his work as president of the council a few years ago and it's not as if he isn't any less busy
— Doris (@DorisLaRubia) August 8, 2019
The player council, which represents the players in the ATP's joint governance structure, consists of 12 members, including six members of the world top 100 in men's singles.
South African Kevin Anderson is vice president and Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey are also on the Council.
The coaching representative slot vacated by Daniel Vallverdu in July remains unfilled.