“Having civil war doesn’t help” – ATP chairman Gaudenzi on tennis’ need for a united front

The Italian has reiterated the need for the governing bodies of tennis to become more unified, especially in the face of growing speculation about a breakaway premium tour run by the Grand Slams

Andrea Gaudenzi, 2021 Andrea Gaudenzi, 2021 © Antoine Couvercelle / Panoramic

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has once again expressed his desire for greater unity and collaboration between the various governing bodies of tennis.

While there has been some closer alignment in recent years between the WTA and ATP tours, namely in the form of the United Cup and an aligned tournament categories system, tennis governance remains highly fragmented, with the seven central bodies frequently pulling in different directions due to conflicting interests.

Because of this, as one unified product from which all parties can benefit proves elusive, the sport’s financial potential continues to be stifled.

rumours of grand slam-run premium tour persist

A recent report from The Athletic unveiled possible plans for a breakaway premium tennis tour, run by the four Grand Slam tournaments, that would include all nine ATP Masters events and a new tenth Masters tournament in Saudi Arabia.

“No, in my opinion, absolutely not,” replied Gaudenzi, when asked in an interview with The National whether this Grand Slam-run premium tour was a genuine possibility.

While he does not agree with the implementation of a premium tour, Gaudenzi is supportive of the underlying premise, and was keen to stress that a more unified approach is something he has been working towards for some time.

Nadal speaks with Gaudenzi in 2022

“I think what I’ve been extremely vocal about the last four years… is that we need to figure out a way to work together,” Gaudenzi continued.

“Whatever was written in that article, it’s definitely the concept of focusing on a premium product, which will mean the Slams and the Masters and the premium product, all together combined, is a very powerful proposition for the consumers.

“That I agree with 100 per cent.”

gaudenzi argues solution lies in co-operation, not further fragmentation

In order to achieve that goal, however, Gaudenzi believes that all tennis’ bodies need to come together to find a solution. A breakaway, or rival, tour will only succeed in creating yet more division and therefore “will only destroy value, not create value.”

“Ultimately, I think you can get there by building on top of the value that we have today rather than destroying and creating disruption, which I think ultimately, it’s always more expensive, it’s time and energy and money-consuming, it’s not necessary.

“I’m 100 per cent pro unity and pro finding solutions through conversations in a room. I strongly believe we can agree a lot more than we actually believe, when you’re together.

“Because ultimately we are aligned. We are all pushing for tennis to be stronger and growing… So we’re on the same side, we’re on the same team – that’s team tennis. Having civil war doesn’t help.”

Tsitsipas and Gaudenzi speaking at the 2022 Italian Open

problems fill the cracks left by a fragmented sport

Encouraging signs of greater alignment have not come fast enough to quell a loudening chorus of player discontent, particularly on the WTA.

The debacle surrounding the WTA Finals in Cancun, the lack of mitigation against late-night finishes and a failure to adequately address continued prize money disparities have dogged the WTA this year.

When you add this to the issues of a seemingly endless schedule across both tours, the unpopular reformatting of the Davis Cup and the damage that emanated from Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players in 2022, the depth of the problems that arise from fragmentation start to become clear.

While differing interests, financial constraints and world events continue to exert pressure on a sport that remains as fragmented as ever, the need for a more unified form of governance has become ever more paramount.

As the spectres of a possible Grand Slam-run premium tour and greater Saudi involvement loom ominously on the horizon for both the ATP and the WTA, a clear path to greater unification has never been so urgently needed as it is now.

People in this post

Your comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *