Tennis-ATP must persist with Gaudenzi for bright future, says former board member


  • Tennis
  • Tuesday, 28 Mar 2023

BENGALURU (Reuters) - The ATP must resist the urge to make changes to its leadership and back chairman Andrea Gaudenzi for another term that would allow the Italian to realise his vision for the men's game, a former board member has told Reuters.

Italian Gaudenzi presented an ambitious plan to revolutionise the sport after taking over as ATP chairman in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced sporting bodies into crisis mode and many are still dealing with the financial implications.

Alex Inglot, who until recently served on the ATP Board and worked with Gaudenzi and his predecessor Chris Kermode, said the Italian -- who is up for re-election this year -- had made "significant developments" in the face of adversity.

"Do I believe stability is critical? Not de facto," Inglot, who was an ATP European player representative, told Reuters by phone from Malta.

"But on the basis of what Gaudenzi envisions and what he has already achieved on the road to that vision, I 100% believe he's the right person for the job going forward."

Briton Inglot pointed to the ATP's announcement in November of a record increase of $37.5 million in prize money to $217.9 million for 2023, shortly after it said prize money on the Challenger Tour feeder circuit would jump 60%.

Under Gaudenzi's OneVision plan aimed at improving revenue from media and television rights, players and tournaments are guaranteed a 50-50 share in profits from this year, he noted.

"Gaudenzi also made governance changes that were really important to the way the board works, the balance of the board and ironing out conflict of interest issues," Inglot said.

"ATP CEO Massimo Calvelli also drove an organisational restructure in terms of the ethos in-house and opening up job opportunities to the wider world."

GROWING COLLABORATION

Gaudenzi was instrumental in creating a "T7 working group" that included the ATP, the WTA, the four Grand Slams and the International Tennis Federation in a bid to streamline the governance of the sport.

The ATP and the WTA integrated marketing departments in 2021 while the launch of the United Cup mixed team tournament and the Netflix tennis docuseries "Break Point" were further signs of the growing collaboration between the Tours.

The ATP announced this month that sports technology company Sportradar was the successful bidder for its global data and betting streaming rights for a six-year period that will begin in 2024.

Inglot said it marked a "powerful vindication" of Gaudenzi's vision for rights aggregation.

"I don't know the exact numbers but in conversations I've had, it's a significant increase on the previous deal," added Inglot, now commissioner of ESL Pro League, a professional esports league.

"Gaudenzi has delivered on the betting and streaming rights. Anyone who doubts his driving mantra and his ability to convert -- that should be the end of the conversation.

"If you look at content, collaboration, growth, prize money and survival in tough times..., tennis seems to be in good shape."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

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