'Good lord': Federer and Nadal bombshell stuns tennis world

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor

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.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are re-joining the Players Council.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

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.

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are all on the Council.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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!"

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.

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.

with agencies