QUESTION: Should the location of the ATP Finals change at all, and more particularly, if it ought to change, should the location be rotated among sites?
ANAND MAMIDIPUDI – @0thlaw
One could argue London is the world’s capital, the home of tennis and the city that is most easily accessible to the global audience. However, this is the era of Brexit, which makes me wonder if it remains an ideal venue for a global event. I would support experimenting with the location of this event, and taking it further, also add variability to the surfaces from one year to another.
The best players of this era must be given a chance to compete in different conditions, even if it cannot happen during the same year. Wouldn’t you want to see Roger and Rafa duke it out on grass one year, and then perhaps watch Thiem play Novak the next year on clay? After all, this event is the culmination of a yearlong tour that spreads across the globe and entails winning in different playing conditions and on many surfaces. The year-end event must then seem equitable to all players on all surfaces. Ideally we would rotate through four venues, each with a different surface and on a different continent.
MERT ERTUNGA – @MertovsTDesk
My opinion on this has not changed for decades. It seems to be a clear-cut answer from my perspective to the point where I never cared to harbor any deeper thoughts on the topic. For the record, I am not aware of all the rules, regulations, and addenda in terms of contracts with cities for the ATP Finals, so the ATP may already have in place some of what I will say below.
If the tournament has success where it is held, and that location is willing to continue hosting the tournament, by all means, they should be given the chance to keep at it. I realize that there are money considerations that come into play. To that end, if another city offers a higher bid, I would completely understand its move to a new venue. Nevertheless, the difference must be substantial enough to justify leaving an established success.
Having said that, in order to give a fair shot to other cities who may want a piece of the pie and already have in place adequate facilities and resources to successfully hold the ATP Finals, there should be a limit on the maximum years that a venue can lock the tournament in one contract. A 10-year-long contract, in my opinion, is too long. This is not to say that a certain venue could not hold the event 10 years in a row, or more, but it should be through renewal of bids. For example, a city could bid for no longer than three years, and then, could renew its bid for another three years if it benefited from it. If another location wants to host it, they would need to outbid the hosting city, but at least they would have a path to hosting.
To sum up, forced rotation is overrated. A terrific partnership between a venue and the ATP should be allowed to continue as long as it exceeds expectations and generates interest worldwide.
MATT ZEMEK – @mzemek
The Pique Cup – aka, the reformed Davis Cup – will be in Madrid in 2019 and 2020.
We know that the 2019 Laver Cup will be in Geneva, Switzerland, a year after being in Chicago and two years after visiting Prague.
With all these late-season “Cups” and special tournaments, it’s time to rethink how the ATP Finals (and WTA Finals, for that matter) are arranged and scheduled.
The Laver Cup has hit on something which should be taken into account by tennis as a (loosely) governed sport: Bring the game to places where fans haven’t had a chance to see it at the highest level. This should be a central priority for tennis, and the year-end championships on both tours, not just the ATP, offer a pathway to do this.
Mert’s idea about a three-year contract seems very sensible. I could sign off on that… but my main non-negotiable demand is that the ATP Finals go to cities which don’t have tour stops and have the facilities to host the event. If that means annual site rotations, so be it… but three-year contracts would work just fine.
To be more strategic, let’s consider the point that in odd-numbered years, the Laver Cup is in Europe, and in even years, it goes somewhere else. It was in North America this year. It might go to South America or Asia in 2020. One should also consider the Olympics being in Asia (Tokyo) in 2020, Europe in 2024 (Paris), and North America in 2028 (Los Angeles). Tennis should try to put the ATP Finals in other continents in those years, so that the game spreads to more places or at least can be seen by more people in different cities.
Tennis needs to think strategically in relationship to the ATP Finals. It has done very well in London, but it can do well in other places which have not seen the best of the best on tour. Tennis can reach for even higher stars… in the attempt to showcase its stars.