Tennis-Djokovic's dad fails to derail Serbia chief's re-election

Reuters

Wed, 26 Jan 16:33:00 2011

A boycott led by Novak Djokovic's father failed to unseat Serbia Tennis Federation (TSS) president Slobodan Zivojinovic who held on to his post with a landslide victory in a ballot on Wednesday.

Zivojinovic, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 1985, took over as TSS chief in 2003 and won his third four-year term after 502 of the 690 delegates voted for him to stay in charge despite some delegates led by Srdjan Djokovic boycotting the vote.

"Serbia won the Davis Cup and became world tennis champions despite Zivojinovic and his aides being in charge all these years, not thanks to them," Djokovic senior told the session before abandoning it with his supporters.

"You people have nothing to do with Serbia's recent tennis success, you don't care how hard our children had to work to get to the top and how much the parents had to sacrifice.

"Tennis was off the sports map in Serbia before our children appeared from nowhere but these people sitting here now are happy to claim all the credit," he said.

Led by world number three Novak Djokovic, Serbia won their first Davis Cup title with a memorable 3-2 win over France in Belgrade last month but the success soon highlighted the team's simmering discontent with the TSS.

SWEEPING CHANGES

Barely a week after Djokovic and his team mates lifted the trophy in the Belgrade Arena, his father called for sweeping changes within the TSS and was unanimously supported by the Davis Cup team and coach Bogdan Obradovic.

Djokovic senior then said the body had done nothing to improve dilapidated facilities or invest in the development of young talent in Serbia, having targeted Zivojinovic as the main culprit in an "idle and disinterested approach."

He was soon joined by several senior tennis officials, who labelled the present leadership incompetent and incapable of attracting much-needed sponsors and investment.

But Zivojinovic refused to buckle and vowed to build a national tennis academy in an effort to foster talent at home.

"While touring Serbia's tennis centres in the past month and a half, I saw plenty of enthusiasm and it requires building a national tennis centre as well as allocating resources to improve the present facilities," he said.

"We have a big responsibility and the TSS will make the preservation of Serbia's status as a top-level tennis nation its utmost priority."

Serbia start their Davis Cup title defence with a first-round home tie against India in the northern city of Novi Sad from March 3-6.

Djokovic, the 2008 Australian Open winner, meets Roger Federer in this year's Melbourne semi-final on Thursday.

 

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