Federer Urges ATP, WTA to Resume Merger Talks

By Richard Pagliaro

Roger Federer celebrated his return to the pro circuit playing matchmaker.

Asked if there has been progress made following his public support of an ATP and WTA merger, Federer urged the two tours to resume unification talks.

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The 20-time Grand Slam champion points out the Coronavirus pandemic forced both the ATP and WTA to focus on how to safely reconfigure the pro circuit. The Swiss superstar reiterated his stance that pro tennis will be stronger with a unified circuit.

“I still believe it will be beneficial for both tours to be together, in all honesty, but I feel like it’s been put a little bit on the back burner, which, yes, it’s a little bit unfortunate maybe, but at the same time I respect that,” Federer told the media in Doha. “But I hope we can take up that conversation again with the ATP and see if it wouldn’t be a possibility after all, because it will need some compromises on either side, and I truly believe it would be a great thing for our sport.”

Last spring, Federer showed support for a merger on social media. In response to a tweet from @FedererArmy, who wrote “I would love for the ATP and WTA to merge”, Federer concurred pointing out a combined Tour would create clarity and eliminate confusion for fans.

“I agree with you,” Federer replied. “It’s too confusing for the fans when there are different ranking systems, different logos, different websites, different tournament categories.”

Of course, there are inherent issues between a full-fledged ATP-WTA merger—prize-money issues, structurally, the organizations are different, their rules differ and if there was a complete merger it would undoubtedly increase operating costs for tournaments—the fact is the most successful tournaments in the world are combined men’s and women’s events that offer fans and sponsors the best value.

The 38-year-old Federer, whose wife Mirka formerly played on the WTA Tour and who has called former world No. 1 Martina Hingis his dream doubles partner, asserts tennis would be best served by creating more combined events.

Looking ahead to a post-Coronavirus age, Federer says one unified tour will be more stronger and more successful than two separate tours, which are sometimes competing for the same sponsorship and television revenue. This year, the WTA has adopted the same tournament name system as the ATP rebranding tournaments with 1000, 500 and 250 ranking-point designations. 

Tennis Express

The man who led Switzerland to Hopman Cup championships partnering both Martina Hingis and Belinda Bencic is hopeful the Tours will talk unity as the pandemic starts to subside in some countries.

“Look, I mean, I said it. I talked to [ATP CEO] Andrea [Gaudenzi] about it. I also spoke to [WTA CEO] Steve Simon. I don’t know, for some reason it just felt like they were not quite ready yet as they were focusing so much on the pandemic, which I get,,” Federer said. “They are getting together on certain issues, as we know. I don’t know if it’s marketing and other things. You know, they are combining their power, which I think is a good thing.

“So I hope I was able to start something, even though I think they were going to come together and get closer to one another anyhow.”

Photo credit: Qatar Tennis Facebook

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