Is time up for the London ATP Tour Finals?

The Telegraph reports that “barring a late change of heart”, the 2020 edition will be the last ATP Tour Finals played at the O2 in London.

After four extensions, the event stayed put in London for 12 years – the longest tenure in its history.

The original relocation shortlist included Tokyo, Singapore and … Manchester, England.

The Telegraph and the Daily Mail both name Turin, Italy as the frontrunner for the next five-year deal – even though it missed the original  deadline. It would be held at the 15,000 seat Pala Alpitour.

Turin’s mayor “may be prepared to offer an annual 15 million-Euro guarantee.”

Kvitova testifies in attacker court case

If we didn’t already know Petra Kvitova was one tough cookie, she went from losing an emotional Australian Open final, to fulfilling a commitment to the WTA event in St. Petersburg, to testifying in the trial of the man who attacked her in her home in the Czech Republic in Dec. 2016.

According to the Daily Mail (via Ceske Noviny), Kvitova’s testified in a room separate from the main trial in a regional court in Brno.

Radim Zondra, 33, could face 12 years in jail if convicted.

 Zondra claims he was in Zlin at the time.

The trial continues March 26.

Player rep Rasheed ousted from ATP Board

We were waiting for comment from Roger Rasheed before posting this, which has yet to materialize.

But can confirm Mike Dickson’s just-published piece in the Daily Mail, and that Rasheed was moved without cause, as one of the three ATP player representatives on the ATP Board of Directors.

It came to a vote during a Council meeting in Paris last week, where the seven hands required to oust him were raised.

Rasheed began a three-year term on Jan. 1. So he didn’t make it through his first year.

Here is the Daily Mail story.

The issue – the hot-button topic among players these days – is prize money. It’s not the dollar numbers per se, but as the proportion of the ATP tournament revenues.

The sub-topic here is that the Player Council representatives on the ATP Board are supposed to vote the way the players want them to. Otherwise, what’s the point, really?

And in this case, Rasheed sided with the opposition. The vote was on a reduced increase in prize money at the Masters 1000 tournaments, compared with previous years.

Three player votes

The ATP Board is made up of seven members. Three represent the players: British lawyer Alex Inglot, former player/commentator/TV producer Justin Gimelstob, and Rasheed.

Also on the board are Gavin Forbes of IMG, Mark Webster of ATP Media, and Charles Smith, the managing director of the company that runs the Shanghai Masters 1000 event.

The seventh member, who would cast a deciding vote when that’s needed, is ATP president Chris Kermode. That’s a real hot seat to be in.

So, at the very least, if the players want their way on something, they need all three of their representatives on board. And then, they must lobby to get that fourth and deciding vote from somewhere else.

Conversely, the other board members must do the same on the players’ side. They wouldn’t need one of those votes of Kermode votes the other way. But in this case, they got Rasheed’s vote, making that point moot.

Small increase at the Masters

The proposed commitment for 2019 prize money at the top level of tournaments was markedly down from previous years.

The framework, we’re told, calls for an increase of approximately 4 per cent at the 250 level, and just 5.4 per cent at both the 500 and Masters 1000 levels.

That’s significantly lower, at the top, compared to previous years.

As a comparison, the base prize money increase for 2018 at the Masters 1000s was up 11 per cent, with the total up 14.7 percent (The increases were 6% and 9.4% at the 500s, and 4% and 5.9% at the 250 level).

Two years prior, for 2016, the increases were 11% and 14% for the Masters 1000s, 6% and 8% for the 500s, and 3% and 4% at the 250 level.

The issue the players appear to have with that smaller increase at the biggest events is that those tournaments is revenue. The Masters 1000 tournaments are the only ones that don’t have to factor in appearance fees into their budgets. They also are the tournaments with by far the greater revenue streams.


Rasheed makes the call

According to Dickson’s Daily Mail piece, there was “a danger that players would not have seen any increases at all,” had the deal not passed.

That kind of sounds like a negotiating threat, to be honest.

Dickson added that Rasheed, “is said to have assessed the risk and sided with the tournaments on this occasion, helping vote through the settlement just for next season.”

In other words, he went rogue.

You could argue that, as a board member there to speak specifically for the players and execute their wishes, that’s not his role.

At any rate, that’s how the players evidently felt about it.

What happens now is that this week in Milan, an interim player rep for the International region will be elected by Inglot and Gimelstob, the other two reps.

When they’re able (this might not be until the Australian Open), the Player Council will elect a successor.

Doesn’t if feel as though there’s as much drama going on off the court as on in tennis these days?

Giudicelli taking ITF to the CAS

Wimbledon opposed, open to coaching

Chairman Philip Brook says that while Wimbledon is philosophically opposed to any form of coaching, he does want to see what the fuss is about.

“The situation is very confusing for everybody. Wimbledon and others think the time has come for an adult conversation across the sport,” Brook told media in London.

“What we would like to learn from those who have conducted trials is, ‘Okay, persuade us why it is a good idea’.”

“Tennis is a gladiatorial contest. It’s one of the things that differentiates it in world sport,” the tournament’s account Tweeted.

Serena interview to air in Oz Sunday

An exclusive Serena Williams interview with Australia’s Channel 10, shot after the US Open final, will finally be aired Sunday night.

One report posited it was delayed to coincide with the rolling out of a new line of bras by Williams’ Australian sponsor Berlei.

Not quite true. Channel 10 was granted the interview in one of those quid pro quo deals. In exchange for exclusive access, the interview promotes the player’s product/cause  

Williams and Berlei are collaborating on a breast health awareness campaign. The bras are a special line; 100 per cent of profits go to Breast Cancer Network Australia

Men receive 74% of code violations

According to data obtained by the Daily Mail, the men have received 74 percent of code violations handed out since 1998.

It would be higher, except the women have an overwhelming lead in the coaching violations category (64 per cent of the total).

The men earned 87 percent of racket abuse violations, 81 per cent of unsportsmanlikes, 79 per cent of verbal abuse calls, 71 per cent of audible obscenities, 65 percent of “visible obscenities” and 58 per cent of ball abuse violations.

More surprising? The grand total of code violations – over 20 years – is just over 2,000 – or roughly 2 1/2 per week.

Temporary Tokyo venue has pink court

The WTA Tour Premier tour stop in Tokyo has a temporary home this year.

The regular venue, Ariake Coliseum, is being renovated ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

So rather than being outdoors with a retractable roof, the tournament will be held indoors at the Tachikawa Arena and Dome. That’s about an hour’s drive west of Tokyo.

It stands out immediately, the organizers having made the call to install a bright pink court surface.

We’ve seen it before, at an exhibition in France, and in 2012 at Roland Garros for the women’s legends. But this is for real.

Wimbledon looking at hybrid surface

According to the Daily Mail, with quotes from All England Club committee member Tim Henman, Wimbledon is looking at solutions to make its grass surface more durable.

“Wimbledon are investing a lot of money looking at the hybrid thing. When you see the football and rugby pitches now, they’re 3% artificial. We’re certainly looking at, “What does 5% look like on a tennis court? What does 10% look like on a tennis court?” Henman said.

Henman said they’re getting close to laying it down on a practice court.

Here’s what it looks like on a rugby pitch.

Laver Cup won’t skip OIympic year

The original Laver Cup plan was to hold it three consecutive years – and then take a break during Olympic years.

Plans have changed. It will go on in 2020, when the Summer Games are held in Tokyo.

“The strong demand compels us to build on the great momentum the Laver Cup has created by holding the event every year,” managing director Steve Zacks said. “There is no reason to take a year off.”

Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro are on board for 2018. Rafael Nadal, committed to Davis Cup, is doubtful.

Wimbledon wants neighboring golf club

Wimbledon already spills over to the golf club across the road, land it has the leasehold on.

But the Daily Mail says it’s thinking bigger

The newspaper says the AELTC has made an offer to buy out the leasehold (it expires in 2041; the club will own the land then) at double the £25 million offered in 2015.

One issue is that only 10-year members could get payouts. The other 300 members would get nothing and potentially no place to play, either

One plan for the land is to have the qualifying there, rather than off-site at Roehampton.