ATP Approves Raft of Changes to Share Tennis’s Wealth
PARIS — The ATP, which runs the lads’s skilled tennis tour, has authorized a big bundle of modifications that embrace profit-sharing between tournaments and gamers and making 5 extra of the tour’s top-line Masters 1000 occasions greater and longer.
Andrea Gaudenzi, an Italian and former star participant, mapped out a lot of this long-term plan when he utilized to develop into chairman of the ATP, taking up the publish at first of 2020.
It has taken practically two and a half years to get the bundle authorized as a result of of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic in addition to the myriad tensions and fiefs throughout the sport.
“This has been a long time coming, and to me, it’s a big step toward the players and the tournaments working more in alignment and more in the spirit of the partnership, which is exactly how the ATP was designed decades ago,” mentioned Todd Martin, a former top-five singles participant and ATP Player Council president who’s now the chief government of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The ATP is an uncommon, usually unwieldy partnership in skilled sport between labor and administration: Players and event homeowners have equal illustration on the board of administrators and the flexibility to block one another’s initiatives.
This structure has made change tough and typically excruciatingly sluggish in a fragmented sport that additionally has six different governing our bodies: the WTA; the International Tennis Federation; and the 4 Grand Slam tournaments, which function independently from one another and the excursions and generate greater than 80 p.c of the income in skilled tennis.
The new ATP bundle, set to be introduced Thursday, tries to shut some of that hole by strengthening different tournaments and to shut ranks throughout the males’s tour, which has been divided by inside dissent. Novak Djokovic, at the moment the No. 1 males’s singles participant, spearheaded the creation of the Professional Tennis Players Association in 2020 with the objective of creating extra negotiating energy for the gamers and increasing the quantity of gamers ready to earn a residing on tour.
But most prime males’s stars, together with Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, have refused to again the P.T.P.A., and all three are half of the ATP Player Council, which was instrumental to getting the brand new modifications authorized.
It is a wide-ranging plan that additionally creates stricter guidelines on battle of curiosity for board members and bettering participant circumstances throughout tournaments. But the important thing modifications come down to sharing.
The ATP will combination event rights into ATP Media, the tour’s gross sales, manufacturing and distribution arm. For the primary time, the Masters 1000 tournaments, the 9 prime occasions on the common males’s tour that embrace the Miami Open and BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., will share a proportion of income from ATP Media with the lower-category tournaments generally known as ATP 500s and ATP 250s. The 500s and 250s may even have assured illustration on an expanded board of administrators.
For the primary time, the Masters 1000 tournaments will permit absolutely unbiased auditing and grant the gamers a share of earnings on prime of the bottom prize money.
“We said, ‘Let’s start really at the root of the problem,’ which is the lack of trust between players and tournaments,” Gaudenzi mentioned in a phone interview. “And all those fights that every year take place and take 80 to 90 percent of our time and energy and resources and are all about 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent of prize money.”
Gaudenzi mentioned the profit-sharing deal, just like the ATP plan as an entire, would run for 30 years from 2023 to 2053 and referred to as for assured prize money will increase of 2.5 p.c every year on the Masters 1000 occasions. After the multilevel auditing course of, gamers would get a proportion of earnings based mostly on their efficiency in all of the Masters 1000 tournaments. If the tournaments lose money, the bottom prize money would stay the identical.
Gaudenzi mentioned the annual bonus pool additionally would enhance considerably, “targeting $20 million” (up from about $11 million this year), and could be paid out to 30 gamers as an alternative of the present 12.
In trade, the Masters 1000s are increasing. Until now, solely Miami and Indian Wells had been 12-day occasions with 96-player attracts. But starting subsequent year, the tournaments in Madrid, Rome and Shanghai will develop to 11 or 12 days, and the Canadian Open and Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, are set to develop in 2025.
That would depart solely the Monte Carlo and Paris Masters as weeklong 1000-level occasions, however Gaudenzi mentioned the hope was to develop them and make them mixed males’s and ladies’s tournaments.
“We are trying to provide more days of premium entertainment,” Gaudenzi mentioned.
He mentioned market analysis confirmed that roughly one billion followers adopted tennis to a point however that the overwhelming majority “only checks in and checks out in the big matches” like “the semifinals and finals of Slams.”
He mentioned the objective was to create a much bigger core of 100 million followers who observe the game extra carefully year-round.
“The gap between the Slams and the Masters in my opinion is a little bit too great now if you compare it to, say, golf,” Gaudenzi mentioned. “In terms of success and prize money, the majors and the PGA Tour are a lot closer, and we need to bring that level up because we want to give a narrative to fans from January to the ATP Finals at the end of the year.”
The growth of the Masters 1000s will create fallout, decreasing the obtainable window for the smaller tournaments, notably the ATP 250s, the bottom rung on the principle tour’s ladder.
“When the schedule gets compressed, you’re going to lose some 250s somewhere,” mentioned Bill Oakes, a former event director of a 250 in Winston-Salem, N.C. “People are going to be forced out, but I’ve talked to multiple tournament directors who said, ‘It’s not going to be me; it’s going to be the other guy.’”
Gaudenzi mentioned attrition could be low however that the long-range objective was not merely to change the ATP however to develop tennis as an entire by creating extra unified governance and safeguards. He added that he sought to keep away from conflicts just like the one this year with Wimbledon, which barred Russian and Belarusian gamers from taking part in this summer season solely to see the ATP and WTA retaliate by stripping the event of rankings factors.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that causes a disruption to the players for sure and to everyone,” Gaudenzi mentioned. “The only thing I can say is, I hope this is the last time this ever happens.”