Tennis: organizing Grand Slams in expensive bio-secure bubbles for the 2nd year and beyond “ a problem ”, Tennis News & Top Stories


MUMBAI (REUTERS, AFP) – Hosting Grand Slams in expensive bio-bubbles might not be viable for a second season despite the financial advantage these big tennis tournaments enjoy over other events, told Reuters ATP chief Andrea Gaudenzi.

The four major tournaments in sport have not been immune to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with Wimbledon canceled for the first time since WWII last year and the most recent editions of the other three outfits in bio-secure environments.

“Most of them also run a federation, so they are also in charge of the development of tennis across the country,” said Gaudenzi, chairman of the men’s tour, recently.

“I think a year is sustainable, but two consecutive years for Grand Slams, or three, are definitely going to be a problem… they also need a little oxygen, absolutely.”

Despite no ticket sales and a controlled sanitary environment, the US Open was still able to pay nearly 95% of its prices in 2019, while the cut for the French Open delayed last year was capped at 11 percent.

This year’s opening Grand Slam in Melbourne offered the same cash prize as the year before, but organizers have warned that may not be the case in 2022.

“It is an extremely difficult situation for them too,” added Gaudenzi. “But obviously Grand Slam tournaments are bigger, and obviously when you’re bigger you have broader shoulders.

“And it’s a different economy. The four Grand Slam tournaments represent about 60 percent of the tennis industry’s total business volume.

“They’ve definitely taken a hit, but their economy is different. They’ve been able to deliver 100% cash prizes because they obviously have different profit margins than our tournaments.”

The organizers of the Australian Open carried 1,200 people on 17 flights from eight countries and organized 14 days of quarantine for all in January but it came at a cost. Tennis Australia has depleted its A $ 80million (S $ 83.2million) cash reserves and has taken out a loan to catch up with it until next year’s tournament.

Melbourne Park hosted four WTA events and three ATP tournaments in addition to the major starting in late January, while the Cincinnati Masters took place in a bio-secure bubble in Flushing Meadows ahead of last year’s US Open.

Gaudenzi said the centralized bubble formula, based on the model that ended the 2019-20 season of the National Basketball Association of North America, had been considered as an option for wider use in tennis. .

“Unfortunately for tennis, because we are global, different continents, different time zones, you move an event to another location, not only do you lose your tickets, but you also lose your sponsorship,” he said. added.

“The broadcast and the media are going to renegotiate because you move the event to a different time zone. So you basically have to start, almost from scratch. The ticketing, sponsorship and broadcast completely rebuilds the platform of the income perspective.

“So that would solve the travel problem … but you won’t solve the financial problem in our case. In fact (it) will be worse, so you lose more money doing this.”

‘Not enough incentive for the players’

ATP certainly has a challenge in keeping players engaged with Denis Shapovalov warning that this year’s tennis tournaments will continue to suffer from high withdrawal rates due to declining cash prizes due to the pandemic.

The 21-year-old Canadian, ranked 12th in the world, said most of the top older players “have no reason to go” to non-Grand Slam tournaments and many more would skip events if they were not contractually obligated. to compete through their sponsors.

Next week’s Masters 1000 event in Miami was hit by a string of high profile withdrawals, including Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem. The total prize money at the Miami Open this year has increased from US $ 16.7 million in 2019 to US $ 6.68 million. The event was one of the first canceled last season due to the pandemic.

A singles champion in Dubai this week will earn US $ 149,490 against US $ 565,705 that Novak Djokovic won for lifting the trophy last year.

“There are going to be a lot of withdrawals and a lot of people not going to tournaments because the prices are low,” said Shapovalov, who qualified for the semi-finals in Dubai on Thursday.

“In a way it’s not motivating to play every week and play all the big tournaments because there isn’t really much for us other than the Slams at this point paying so much. or better, like in Australia this year. “

He thinks ATP can find better ways to get bigger prize pots for players. Unlike other sports leagues, where players receive salaries and have certain guarantees, tennis players are independent contractors and only earn money when they compete, with their income depending directly on the amount of money. ‘they win.

“Hopefully ATP or someone can do something to improve the prize money and bring it back to where it was, but that’s what it is now,” Shapovalov said.

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