Paris – The ATP, which runs the Men’s Professional Tennis Tournament, has approved a major package of changes that includes profit sharing between tournaments and players, and five more will make the Masters 1000 event in the top line of the tour bigger and longer.
Andrea Gudenzi, an Italian and former star player, made up much of that long-term plan when he announced his bid to become ATP chairman, a position in early 2020.
It took almost two and a half years to approve the package due to the challenges posed by the corovirus pandemic, as well as the many tensions and feudal lords in the sport.
“It’s been a long time coming and for me it’s a big step to make players and tournaments work more consistently and in a more collaborative spirit, just like the ATP was created decades ago,” Todd said. Martin, a former top five player and chairman of the ATP Board of Players, is now the CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The ATP is an unusual, often tireless partnership between work and management in professional sports: players and tournament owners have equal representation on the board of directors and have the ability to block each other’s initiatives.
This structure has complicated change and has sometimes been painfully slowed down in fragmented sports, which also has six other governing bodies: the WTA; International Tennis Federation; And four Grand Slam tournaments that operate independently of each other and the tournaments generate more than 80 percent of the revenue in professional tennis.
The new ATP package, to be announced on Monday, seeks to close this gap by strengthening other tournaments and closing the ranks in the men’s round split over internal disagreements. Novak Djokovic, currently the No. 1 loyal male player, led the creation of the Professional Tennis Association in 2020, which aimed to give players more bargaining power and a livelihood of players on tour.
But most of the top men’s stars, including Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, have turned down support for the PTPA, and all three are part of the ATP board, which has played a key role in approving the new changes.
It is a broad-spectrum plan that also creates stricter rules on conflicts of interest for board members and improves player conditions during tournaments. But major changes are coming from sharing.
ATP will acquire the tournament rights in ATP Media, Tour Sales, Production and Distribution Division. For the first time, the Masters 1000 Tournament, a top nine event in the Men’s Regular Round that includes the Miami Open and BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, will share revenue percentage from ATP Media with lower category tournaments. Known as the ATP 500s and ATP 250s. The 500s and 250s will also have guaranteed representation on the extended board of directors.
For the first time, the Masters 1000 tournaments will allow for a fully independent audit and players will be awarded a share of the winnings above the base prize money.
“We said, ‘Let’s actually start from the bottom of the problem,’ which is a lack of trust between the players and the tournaments,” Gudenzi said in a telephone interview. “And all the quarrels that take place every year and take up 80 to 90 percent of our time, energy and resources, and all this amounts to 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent of the prize money.
Gudenzi said the profit-sharing agreement, like the ATP plan as a whole, would last for 30 years from 2023 to 2053, and called for a 2.5 percent increase in the guaranteed prize money for the Masters 1000 events each year. Following the multi-level audit process, players would receive a percentage of their winnings in all Masters 1000 tournaments based on their performance. If the tournaments lose money, the basic prize money will remain the same.
Gudenzi said the annual bonus fund would also increase substantially, “targeting $ 20 million” (up from about $ 11 million this year) and paying 30 players instead of the existing 12.
In return, the Masters 1000s are expanding. So far only Miami and Indian Wells have been 12-day matches with a 96-player draw. But from next year, tournaments in Madrid, Rome and Shanghai will expand to 11 or 12 days, while the Canadian Open and Western & Southern Open Masonry, Ohio, are scheduled for 2025.
It will only leave the Monte Carlo and Paris Masters as weekly 1000-level events, but Gudenzie said there was hope for their expansion and unification of men’s and women’s tournaments.
“We’re trying to make more days of premium fun,” Gudenzi said.
He said market research had shown that around one billion fans would follow tennis to some degree, but that the vast majority “only get check-ins and check-outs in big matches” such as “Slam semi-finals and finals”.
He said the goal was to create a large nucleus of 100 million fans who would watch the sport more closely throughout the year.
“I think the gap between slams and masters is a bit big now, compared to, say, golf,” Gudenzi said. “In terms of success and prizes, the Majors and the PGA Tour are closer and we need to raise that level because we want to give the fans a narrative from January to the ATP Finals at the end of the year. ”
Expanding the Masters 1000 will result in reduced windows available for small tournaments, especially the ATP 250, the lowest step on the main tour ladder.
“When the schedule is tight, you lose somewhere around 250,” said Bill Oaks, a former director of the 250 tournament in Winston-Salem, NC. Several tournament directors said: “It’s not me; It will be another boy. “
Gudenzie said depreciation would be low, but the long-term goal was not just to change the ATP, but to develop tennis as a whole by creating more unified governance and means of protection. He added that he was trying to avoid conflicts such as this year with Wimbledon, which banned Russian and Belarusian players from playing this summer only in retaliation for the ATP and WTA, depriving the tournament of rating points.
“This is a sad situation that is causing delays for the players and for everyone,” Gudenzi said. “The only thing I can say is, I hope this is the last case.”