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ATP revamps tournaments and player pay

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2022 | Current Events |

Professional tennis has several governing bodies. These are the four major tournaments, the International Tennis Federation, the Women’s Tennis Association, and the Association of Tennis Players (ATP). The ATP runs the men’s professional tennis tour that fills in the remainder of the men’s tennis season. It has approved five more top-line Masters 1000 events, which makes a total of nine. These events will also have larger purses (35% increase between 2023 and 2025), larger draw sizes and longer tournament runs (11-12 days). The ATP 1000 tournaments will also share a percentage of revenue with smaller ATP 500s and ATP 250s, who will also get inclusion on the expanded board of directors.

Somewhat uniquely for individual sports, the ATP features an equal partnership between players and tournament owners, allowing each to block the other’s plans. It means that change can come slowly, with these new changes first proposed by Andrea Gaudenzi, who applied to become ATP chairman just before the pandemic in 2020.

There is a long list of goals for these changes, including more closely aligning the tour tournaments and clamping down on conflicts of interests that are rife in the close-knit world of pro tennis. However, the prime objective is to increase the importance and pay of the non-major tournaments so that more players further down the rankings can make a better living playing tennis.

The changes

There will be independent audits of the ATP 1000 tournaments finances, which will likely mean additional money to players through a 50-50 profit-sharing deal. This arrangement would begin in 2023 and run until 2053. While the prize money will go up 2.5% annually at ATP 1000 events, players would also get a share of the ATP 1000 profits determined by the independent audits, and amounts will be split based on the player’s overall performance at the tournaments that year. The target for the bonus pool is $20 million, which is up from the current amount of $11 million. This pay would go to the top 30 players instead of the current number of 12. It’s believed that the profit-sharing scheme will raise the income of an estimated 140 players (this number is based on past performance by different players at the tournaments).

The end of a bitter feud

The disagreements over money have been a big issue between tournaments and players. Some of this distrust was attributed to the lack of transparency, which the audits are designed to address. The ATP also has additional plans for a second phase of creating a unified governance structure and operating model for tennis.