PARIS — The ATP, which runs the boys’s skilled tennis tour, has authorized a big package deal of modifications that embody 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 turn out to be chairman of the ATP, taking up the publish at the start of 2020.
It has taken almost two and a half years to get the package deal 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,” stated Todd Martin, a former top-five singles participant and ATP Player Council president who’s now the chief govt 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 house owners have equal illustration on the board of administrators and the flexibility to block one another’s initiatives.
This construction has made change troublesome and generally excruciatingly gradual 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 package deal, 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 inner dissent. Novak Djokovic, at present the No. 1 males’s singles participant, spearheaded the creation of the Professional Tennis Players Association in 2020 with the aim of creating extra negotiating energy for the gamers and increasing the quantity of gamers in a position to earn a dwelling on tour.
But most high 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 enhancing participant situations throughout tournaments. But the important thing modifications come down to sharing.
The ATP will mixture event rights into ATP Media, the tour’s gross sales, manufacturing and distribution arm. For the primary time, the Masters 1000 tournaments, the 9 high occasions on the common males’s tour that embody 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 also have assured illustration on an expanded board of administrators.
For the primary time, the Masters 1000 tournaments will enable absolutely unbiased auditing and grant the gamers a share of income on high of the bottom prize cash.
“We said, ‘Let’s start really at the root of the problem,’ which is the lack of trust between players and tournaments,” Gaudenzi stated 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 stated the profit-sharing deal, just like the ATP plan as an entire, would run for 30 years from 2023 to 2053 and known as for assured prize cash 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 income based mostly on their efficiency in all of the Masters 1000 tournaments. If the tournaments lose cash, the bottom prize cash would stay the identical.
Gaudenzi stated the annual bonus pool additionally would improve considerably, “targeting $20 million” (up from about $11 million this yr), and can be paid out to 30 gamers as an alternative of the present 12.
In alternate, the Masters 1000s are increasing. Until now, solely Miami and Indian Wells had been 12-day occasions with 96-player attracts. But starting subsequent yr, the tournaments in Madrid, Rome and Shanghai will broaden to 11 or 12 days, and the Canadian Open and Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, are set to broaden in 2025.
That would depart solely the Monte Carlo and Paris Masters as weeklong 1000-level occasions, however Gaudenzi stated the hope was to broaden them and make them mixed males’s and ladies’s tournaments.
“We are trying to provide more days of premium entertainment,” Gaudenzi stated.
He stated market analysis confirmed that roughly one billion followers adopted tennis to some extent however that the overwhelming majority “only checks in and checks out in the big matches” like “the semifinals and finals of Slams.”
He stated the aim 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 stated. “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 enlargement of the Masters 1000s will create fallout, lowering the accessible window for the smaller tournaments, notably the ATP 250s, the bottom rung on the primary tour’s ladder.
“When the schedule gets compressed, you’re going to lose some 250s somewhere,” stated 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 stated attrition can be low however that the long-range aim 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 yr 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 stated. “The only thing I can say is, I hope this is the last time this ever happens.”