Novak Djokovic is the champion of the defensive. The world ranking first will find on the tennis court even a way out, even if the situation seems hopeless. That's why at the end of a match he often stands as the shining winner. In Wimbledon, the 32-year-old has again reached the final. There Djokovic meets Sunday on Roger Federer.
In the days of the world's most important tennis tournament, however, the Serb has fallen on the defensive even outside of London's well-controlled grass pitches – and is anything but a good figure. Several times it came at the press conferences after his matches in Wimbledon for open exchange with journalists. The reason: Djokovic, president of the ATP player council, maintains a friendly relationship with Justin Gimelstob. The 42-year-old former professional tennis player is his preferred candidate as the new boss of the entire ATP, the organization for the men's tennis tour.
What makes it problematic is the fact that Gimelstob was recently sentenced to three years in prison in the United States on probation because he beat his ex-wife's husband with 50 blows and seriously injured. Gimelstob does not deny the allegations against him, also because the burden of proof is overwhelming. However, he did not plead guilty. For Djokovic that was enough to hold on to Gimelstob, even after the ex-professional resigned his post in the ATP in early May. For ten years, the American had previously successfully represented the interests of the players in the so-called director's board.
Meanwhile, however, he has lost all support for many professionals. Stan Wawrinka said a few weeks ago: "Justin Gimelstob was convicted of assault. It can not be that we tolerate such behavior. "And right in front of Wimbledon, four out of the twelve professionals in the Board of Play resigned their posts. Novak Djokovic does not challenge all this. He continued to be friends with Gimelstob and met him recently in London, he said. However, the Serb had to admit that he did not know the court documents. He announced that he wanted to read it and said, "If Justin is found guilty, it will change everything."
Djokovic has meanwhile confessed to further inquiries about this topic. "I will not comment on that and on political issues. Now tennis is in focus, "he said after his third round win last week. But the damage was already done. Above all, the ignorance of the details of the case and the one-sided partisanship for Gimelstob surprised many observers. Djokovic is likely to continue the topic even further, especially as his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal take a completely different stance. From the outset, they did not understand why the contract of the popular ATP chief Chris Kermode should not be extended. Since the two top stars but no longer hold office in the Players' Council, they could not do anything and had to watch as Djokovic enforced his interests.
Now, in the Gimelstob case, things have become very lonely about number one. Djokovic is also out of the square for a change with his back to the wall. He now has to show if he can free himself from an awkward situation as well as in a tennis match.