I haven’t seen Etienne de Villiers, the ATP CEO, and Larry Scott, the WTA CEO, square off on Jeopardy yet, but if I were to gauge their intelligence by the future grand plans of their respective organizations, I’d put my money on de Villiers.
Both leaders are pushing new plans because their top players are skipping too many required events. Players pick and choose their schedule by coming up with mythical injuries as justification for skipping high profile events ATP players routinely skip the last Masters event of the year even though it is required and the WTA had a record number of withdrawals by top ten players last year.
The WTA plans to remedy the situation by creating a new set of required tournaments and suspending players for two subsequent tournaments if they skip a required event. They also plan to charge lower level tournaments a lot of money for going over their quota of top ten players to discourage top players from signing up for tournaments at the last minute. The WTA would rather have players turn up at the tournaments they already committed to
That’s one way to make lower level events less attractive though it’s expensive and rather threatening. The ATP has found a less confrontational and less expensive approach to the matter and I want to thank Bob Larson’s Tennis News, the best site for tennis news out there, for pointing this out.
The ATP plans to double the number of rankings points for winning a slam to 2000 points and create two levels of Masters events: one worth 1000 points and one worth 500 points. But they haven’t said they will increase the points for the lower level tournaments and what they haven’t said is important.
Last year Roger Federer got 1000 points for winning Wimbledon and 250 points for winning Tokyo. In the new plan, he’d get 2000 points for Wimbledon but still only 250 for Tokyo. Essentially, this will make lower level tournaments half as valuable as they are now. Winning Tokyo will be worth one eighth as much as Wimbledon while previously it was worth one fourth as much
In the ATP, a player’s ranking is based on his results in the slams, the Masters events and any five additional tournaments. Those five additional tournaments will become less valuable which should encourage players to actually turn up at all of the Masters events since that’s where all the points are.
It’s a smart approach because de Villiers may not have enough power to eliminate tournaments so he’s made them less valuable. He may have gone too far though. As the Tennis News analysis points out, those lower level tournaments could attract far fewer players since they aren’t worth as much and that would hurt the ATP. If so, de Villiers is not so smart and Scott wins.
ATP’s Brave New World
WTA Roadmap Reigns in Players