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post #1 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 10:08 AM Thread Starter
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Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

I just saw this at the Times, online. Some interesting behind the scenes action, but generally vague about details.

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Players Seek Larger Role in ATP
By CHRISTOPHER CLAREY

Rivals for supremacy on the court, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have now become political allies off it in an attempt to take more control over the direction of tennis.
Saturday in London, two days before Wimbledon begins, the world’s three top men’s players are all but certain to be voted on to the player council of the Association of Tennis Professionals. That would be a most unusual move in an era when the game’s stars are typically more preoccupied with hitting big forehands and maximizing their big earnings than addressing the broader issues facing the sport.

But Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are concerned about the current leadership of the ATP and about the potential impact of a lawsuit filed by tournament organizers in Hamburg, Germany.

Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have expressed reservations about decisions made by the ATP chairman Etienne de Villiers, whose contract ends later this year, like a failed experiment last year to introduce a round-robin format at low-level tour events. But the bigger issue is apparently a perceived lack of communication between the players and the ATP’s board, which is the tour’s primary decision-making body.

Nadal, the world’s dominant clay-court player, has also been upset by attempts to restructure the clay-court schedule.
“Controversy, nobody likes it,” Nadal said in an interview in Paris shortly after he won his fourth straight French Open. “I prefer to play tennis and have tranquillity, which in many cases we are lacking. But with the ATP, there have been moments when we were simply not informed about things that they were going to do. Our complaint is that we have representatives on the board who do not represent the players. They are our representatives, but they aren’t representing us. They’re representing the head of the ATP.”

James Blake agreed that the board’s management style needed to change. “We don’t need to be treated like little children,” he said in Paris.
The ATP is a joint venture between the tournaments and the players. The board of directors has six members: three elected by the player council and three chosen by the tournaments with de Villiers, a former Disney executive, serving as chairman and the tie-breaking vote.
The players’ dissatisfaction led to last month’s move by the existing player council to vote Perry Rogers off the board. Rogers, the longtime agent and close friend of the former champion Andre Agassi, has been one of de Villiers’s primary allies and advisers in developing and negotiating a new structure and calendar for the men’s tour in 2009.

The changes would be more evolutionary than revolutionary, but de Villiers has emphasized that he needs commitment from the top players in order to package and sell rights to the revamped tour. The board has already approved a system whereby the top players must commit to play (or in case of injury, attend) all eight of its top tournaments or risk financial penalties and suspension.

The board is also requiring that the top players commit to 4 of the 11 events in the second tier. The four Grand Slam events, the most prestigious in the sport, are not run by the ATP.
The new commitment policy has not been welcomed by all the top players or their agents, who are concerned, in part, about losing guaranteed paydays at smaller tournaments.
Rogers did not return a telephone call seeking comment, and de Villiers declined to comment, except to say that he welcomed the prospect of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic joining the council.

The ATP spokesman Kris Dent said that, in an attempt to bridge any communication gap, the top 10 players had been offered the chance to have someone representing them in the boardroom report back on all discussion. “That offer was made months ago, and we’ve heard nothing back,” Dent said.
Ivan Ljubicic, the Croatian veteran who is president of the existing council, said: “We are at the most important moment for our sport in 20 years. The next two to three months are critical.”

That is largely because of the antitrust lawsuit filed against the ATP by the tournament organizers in Hamburg, whose traditional clay-court event is set to be downgraded from the top tier of tournaments in 2009. The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in United States District Court in Wilmington, Del., in late July.
“It all depends on the lawsuit,” Ljubicic said. “If the ATP wins, the ATP presumably stays as is, but if Hamburg wins, we don’t really know what happens. It could change the whole sport. It could cost the ATP more than it has.”

The ATP has reportedly already spent more than $7 million on legal and court fees related to the case. With the lawsuit blocking final plans for 2009, it has been difficult to procure sponsorship, although Dent said the “interest from the commercial world has been extremely encouraging.”
If the 2009 plan goes forward, Dent said, the tour has already secured a 36 percent increase in prize money for next year along with an $8 million bonus pool and “almost a billion dollars” of investment from tournaments in new stadiums and improved facilities.

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post #2 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 11:44 AM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

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Originally Posted by R.Federer View Post
I just saw this at the Times, online. Some interesting behind the scenes action, but generally vague about details.
i think its the lower earning players that should have a bigger role in the way the atp is run not the 6 figure a year earners...
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post #3 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 11:53 AM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

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Originally Posted by tennis2tennis View Post
i think its the lower earning players that should have a bigger role in the way the atp is run not the 6 figure a year earners...
Agreed.

And I see nothing wrong with having the players commit to 4 out of 11 of the Tier II tournaments. That's not a lot.

(BTW - I believe golf actually is doing the same thing because the top players aren't going to the smaller tournaments. Which makes unhappy tournament directors and fans alike.)
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post #4 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 11:55 AM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

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Agreed.

And I see nothing wrong with having the players commit to 4 out of 11 of the Tier II tournaments. That's not a lot.
Yes it is when you consider that only five optionals are counted on the computer rankings at the moment. I like the idea of players choosing wherever they want to play rather than being heavily influenced by whether a tournament is a Open 500 event or not. And then of course there's the issue that the list of Open 500 events that were chosen is really poor. With the new system, there'll be even fewer top players going to the IS tournaments.

But from a selfish point of view, there will be better TV coverage so it is good from that point of view.
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post #5 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 12:02 PM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

I don't agree with everything the ATP is doing, but there is a need to market and grow the sport. You mention TV coverage - you can't sell TV coverage if the tournament is little more than a challenger event with no top players.

The players need to cooperate, and from what I've witnessed over the years (many years), the men just refuse to help out in marketing the sport. This is just another example. All they want is to take their money and run.
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post #6 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 12:07 PM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

The top players are involved in plenty of promotional events and seem to be very media-friendly to me. Are you referring to their lack of support in the ATP's new ideas? That's a different matter, I think and sometimes I think that their ideas are not well-targeted, like towards audiences that just wouldn't be interested in tennis.

I agree that the biggest selling point for viewers is whether the top players are playing or not, which is why I think reducing the AMS finals to best-of-three sets is a good idea. I know a lot of people complain about it on this board, but there were less withdrawals from the big names last year and people would be complaining about the event being of a far lower standard to the other AMS events if that was the case. As for re-scheduling the AMS events so that they don't occur back-to-back, the players have spoken out that they like them back-to-back despite that being more physically demanding presumably because of the more convenient travelling. I find it funny how it seems like for most issues in the ATP, the opinion of the players is pretty much the same for everyone.

Yes, I read in an article that the AMS.TV website will be expanding to show coverage of the Open 500 tournaments and we already know that the coverage of the AMS events is excellent, probably even better than Grand Slams which is unreliable (excluding Wimbledon of course).

Last edited by krystlel; 06-17-2008 at 12:13 PM.
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post #7 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 12:42 PM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

Actually I worked for a large sponsor for two years at a tennis tournament - and the players are less than helpful at promotional events. As one of the top people at the tournament said to me, the players have so much money that no one can tell them to do anything. And the top players are of course the worse. They are in their own bubble world.

I was against the best of three at first too, but now have come to the conclusion that it was a good idea. And now feel that they should go to best of three for the GS through the pre-QF matches.

I think that the players should have a say in decisions, but I just don't think they should have an enormous voice. I like Rafa, but using him as an example, he wanted the entire clay season schedule to revolve around him - and him only. So do I want Rafa making the decisions for the sport? No way!!!!!
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post #8 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 12:50 PM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

It's important that not only top players are involved, yes.

However...
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I think that the players should have a say in decisions, but I just don't think they should have an enormous voice. I like Rafa, but using him as an example, he wanted the entire clay season schedule to revolve around him - and him only. So do I want Rafa making the decisions for the sport? No way!!!!!
May I suggest that you reread what he said?

Saying that the European clay court schedule is too cramped (which is clear for everybody to see but the solution is not as crystal clear even though not bending over for tv networks because of college basketball would have helped) and saying that the grass season is too short, that there should be more preparation time before Wimbledon (another case where the problem is clear but the solution not so much) is not exactly the same as claiming that he wants the entire clay court season to revolve around him.

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The players need to cooperate, and from what I've witnessed over the years (many years), the men just refuse to help out in marketing the sport
What sort of thing do you have in mind for the top players that they aren't doing right now?
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post #9 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 01:08 PM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

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I think that the players should have a say in decisions, but I just don't think they should have an enormous voice. I like Rafa, but using him as an example, he wanted the entire clay season schedule to revolve around him - and him only. So do I want Rafa making the decisions for the sport? No way!!!!!
Well, quite frankly, if it's all up to De Villers, he would move most of the season on American Hard Couurts , and leave to the European clay not more time than the period what we call as grass season .(if 4 weeks could be named as season)

It is indeed clear that TV coverages are very important for the sport and for whole business, but for me it is not acceptible to downgrade Hamburg and almost the same thing with Monte Carlo ( which for me is one of the most beatuifull tournaments ).

How would it be, if some European De Villers tries to donwgrade Cincy?
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post #10 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 01:32 PM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

maybe i'm not paying enough attention... but it seems to me that mr disney has been surprisingly quiet this year
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post #11 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 01:49 PM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

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Originally Posted by NicoFan View Post

I think that the players should have a say in decisions, but I just don't think they should have an enormous voice. I like Rafa, but using him as an example, he wanted the entire clay season schedule to revolve around him - and him only. So do I want Rafa making the decisions for the sport? No way!!!!!
Where did he say that the clay season was only about him and him only? He has continually mentioned European players as a group and pointed out that tennis is a global sport and voiced concern about the cramping of a major swing for one geographic group of that calender. How is that him suddenly saying he is the most important thing on the calender and everything should be only about him as you claim? Do you think Rafa was the only one who did not like having the clay season cramped up this year?

And while I don't think the big players should be making all the decisions- I do not see what is wrong with them having at least a voice. Just because someone is at the top of the sport does not mean they are no longer valid. It would be good if voices were heard from all strata of tennis players- but the big issue right now is none of the voices are being heard and I am not going to begrudge Nole, Roger and Rafa for becoming active.

In addition to it being important that there are players of different rankings- I think you also need to have players from a variety of different geographic areas and favored surfaces.

I like a lot of players.

Last edited by Clara Bow; 06-17-2008 at 01:58 PM.
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post #12 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 02:01 PM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

With them three in the team, i think it would better than NOT having them there. i'm glad. hopefully this would get Mr. Disney kicked out.

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post #13 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 02:09 PM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

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In addition to it being important that there are players of different rankings- I think you also need to have players from a variety of different geographic areas and favored surfaces.
Exactly.
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post #14 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 03:06 PM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

I don't have time to debate this issue now, but can I leave you with one thought?

You all are so quick to defend these guys.

But think back a bit and try to remember the last time the players gave more than lip service to the fans. In many countries, fans have to fight to follow the sport. And at some tournaments, fans aren't treated with much respect. Have the players ever said or complained about the issues that affect fans? Have they ever defended YOU??? No, and they never ever will.

I'm not saying these guys shouldn't have a voice - but they are just one piece of the puzzle, and the lower ranked guys should have a voice too - and hey just like the fans, they have NO voice.

I'm not defending them - they aren't the oppressed and exploited of the world. They can take care of themselves.
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post #15 of 60 (permalink) Old 06-17-2008, 03:14 PM
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Re: Players Seek Larger Role in ATP (NYT)

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Originally Posted by NicoFan View Post
I don't have time to debate this issue now, but can I leave you with one thought?

You all are so quick to defend these guys.

But think back a bit and try to remember the last time the players gave more than lip service to the fans. In many countries, fans have to fight to follow the sport. And at some tournaments, fans aren't treated with much respect. Have the players ever said or complained about the issues that affect fans? Have they ever defended YOU??? No, and they never ever will.

I'm not saying these guys shouldn't have a voice - but they are just one piece of the puzzle, and the lower ranked guys should have a voice too - and hey just like the fans, they have NO voice.

I'm not defending them - they aren't the oppressed and exploited of the world. They can take care of themselves.
I suppose Massu should have a big voice in the structure of the tour

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