Sam Duvall, President at Topnotch Management which manages tennis stars such as John Isner, Reilly Opelka and Caroline Garcia, backs Roger Federer's suggestion that the ATP & WTA Tours should be merged and says the tennis bodies should use the current shutdown to work on the same.
In an interview to SportsProMedia, Duvall says, "It’s not the first time this has been discussed but certainly when he [Federer] says something it carries a lot more weight, so it’ll be interesting to see if that momentum gathers more steam.
I know the ATP chairman [Gaudenzi] has hinted at working closer and closer to the WTA, which I think would be fantastic. The timing of there being no play [means] there’s no better time for all this to be looked at because people really have the time to study, crunch some numbers, talk to the various governing bodies, and see if there’s a way to make it work”.
The ATP & WTA Tours are also working on a relief package for lower ranked players - along with the ITF and the Grand Slam bodies - which Duvall says is a great initiative. “It’s a great initiative. You’re not going to be able to appease everyone, there are going to be some people who disagree with how it is done, or who it is going to, or the amounts.
But I think the important thing is getting something across the line sooner rather than later because it’s been early March since tennis stopped. They needed to get something across the line and then figure out how it all works.
There’s no real game plan for this”. Being on the business side of the sport, Duvall adds that when the circuit does resume, the players and the tours will need to work harder to retain the sponsors in a difficult business environment in the coming months.
"What you’re going to see is players having to work a bit harder to retain those sponsorship dollars and get more creative to try and differentiate themselves from some of their peers. It would be naïve to assume that we’re going to get through this and whenever the tour starts back up everything is back to normal.
That’s probably not going to be the case”. The American also adds that the current crisis will also impact some tournaments who may not be able to survive in a post-COVID environment. "There are going to be events that can’t survive this.
Like any industry, there are going to be tournaments that are financially viable and there are going to be ones that are not. Even if there are just events that are thrown on the calendar in different times and events are moving in the near term just to provide jobs and financial earning capacity for players, I don’t think that is indicative that there isn’t a bigger thing going on here.
I think there’s a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes and there’s probably some planning for some bigger tour changes, which is exciting”.