LONDON – Novak Djokovic warmed up for the defence of his Wimbledon title not on the practice courts, but locked away for seven hours in a stuffy meeting room discussing the politics of tennis.
As well as being the world number one and the holder of 15 Grand Slam titles, the 32-year-old is president of the ATP Player Council.
It’s a powerful representative body which also occasionally pits player against player.
“I think in any industry, having seven-hour meetings regularly is unacceptable because it’s not efficient,” said Djokovic on Saturday.
“There was one that happened last night, which went on post-midnight and started 5:00pm.”
Djokovic has been at odds with fellow stars such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the future direction of the sport.
Disagreements have recently centred on the decision to dispense with the services of the ATP’s chief executive Chris Kermode, a popular figure in tennis.
“I’ve obviously considered various options. I did consider also stepping down. I think my team wants me to step down, honestly. It’s obvious,” added Djokovic.
His mood was not improved on Saturday when players Jamie Murray and Robin Haase as well as coach Dani Vallverdu stepped down from the body.
He may be frustrated with the politics, but Djokovic arrives at Wimbledon this year in a better frame of mind than 12 months ago.
Ranked outside the top 20 for the first time in a decade and struggling with the aftermath of elbow surgery, few gave him any realistic chance of lifting a fourth Wimbledon trophy.
However, he blitzed through the field, defeating Nadal in a five-hour 16-minute semi-final before easing past Kevin Anderson in the championship match.
“There is quite a difference. Obviously I’m approaching this year’s Wimbledon as defending champion, No. 1 of the world,” he said.
“Last year I did drop out of top 20 after French Open. Coming off from the surgery, being unable to have a consistency with the results, this was a huge springboard for me, the win at Wimbledon last year.
“That’s what kind of gave me that push. After that, it was all upwards, winning Cincinnati for first time, US Open. One Grand Slam can definitely change anyone’s career in a few weeks.”AFP