All the talk of a potential ATP and WTA merger reached a boiling point when Roger Federer tweeted on the subject over a month ago. While the idea is not a new one, there has perhaps never been a better time than right now to actually get it done. So far, the idea has been met with overwhelming support from players, analysts, as well as the CEOs of the two tours, Andrea Gaudenzi (ATP) and Steve Simon (WTA).
It seems only Nick “we shouldn’t merge” Kyrgios has taken a firm stance against the concept, to which ATP Player Council representative Vasek Pospisil responded, “To be honest, he's in no position to express an opinion when he just hears about this for the first time and has done zero due diligence. There are some guys like that and I'll have no problem telling him that to his face.”
Andy Roddick, another proponent of the merger, further discussed the possibility on Wednesday night’s edition of Tennis Channel Live.
“It’s great in concept and I hope it’s feasible,” Roddick said. “My point the entire time, whether it’s the player relief fund or a merger is does it work? Do both parties win from a business perspective if it happens?”
We can all agree that seven governing bodies (ATP, WTA, ITF, and the four controllers of the Grand Slams) is too many. It forces each entity to look out for their own interests, as opposed to the good of the game. But as the clock ticks on tennis’ coronavirus hiatus, the merger actually happening seems less likely with each passing day.
“It’s not as easy as a #weretogether and then all of a sudden it works,” Roddick added while poking fun at social media in the process. “In theory it would be great from a TV packaging perspective, as well as lowering costs on site. There’s a lot of benefit to it but there needs to be a lot of thought behind it.”
Roddick remained skeptical on the actuality of the concept coming to fruition and raised some simple, yet important points. “Is someone going to negotiate a deal and then by virtue of it lose their job? That’s just one example. There are a lot of things that need to be sorted out, but I hope it happens.”
Instead, Roddick would like to focus on some more achievable goals, like untapped revenue streams. “There’s no cut of merchandise at the US Open. They are selling $27 hot dogs, [yet] none of that goes back into a player fund.”
“If you do merge the ATP and WTA, you’re only about halfway where you need to be,” Jim Courier added. “I’m not sure this merger would solve all the problems.”
“I think from a negotiating perspective it probably makes sense,” Roddick said, “but it’s been a long, long, longstanding bet against unity [in tennis] whether it’s court surface, schedule, mergers, separate tours, whatever it may be.”