Jul/19

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Lopez Discusses ATP Disorder and Discord

Feliciano Lopez played today in his 70th consecutive Grand Slam major main draw, bouncing out young American Marcos Giron, who was making his major debut, 64 62 64. Lopez holds the longest streak of playing consecutive majors, which dates all the way back to 2002.

After the win, Lopez revealed there is considerable disorder and discord inside the ATP organization, particularly regarding the ATP Player Council, Board of Directors, which decided to fire popular ATP CEO Chris Kermode and just voted in Weller Evans as the substitute to finish out the term of Justin Gimelstob on the ATP Board. Gimelstob resigned after heavy criticism and public outcry after admitting to the violent brutal physical assault of a man in Los Angeles late last year.

There is concern by some that Novak Djokovic and Gimelstob have some sort of secret alliance and agenda for the future of the ATP and their union is being met with mounting resistance. Four members of the player council resigned over the controversial appointment of Evans, who is regarded by some as a Gimelstob/Djokovic puppet. Several tennis world figures like Stan Wawrinka and Tim Henman and now Lopez have expressed their concerns about the future direction of the ATP.

“There is many things going on right now in the ATP as an organization,” Lopez said to the Wimbledon media today at his press conference. “There is probably many changes coming up. I cannot tell you obviously in detail, but everything is falling apart.”

“I think we still have time, so by the end of the year, we will hopefully have everything sorted out and we will have the Player Council again and everything’s gonna be hopefully in the right direction again. For the moment, it’s kind of a mess.”

(Note: Four members of the Player Council abruptly resigned last week – Sergey Stakhovsky, Robin Haase, Jamie Murray and coach Daniel Valverdu.)

The 37-year-old Spanish veteran works as a competitive player and also as the Mutua Madrid Open tournament director, so he has valuable experience of professional tennis from the players and business side. Prize money allocation to the players is one issue that is causing controversy inside the ATP but Lopez hinted there are other problems also.

“If you compare the prize money from when I started playing the slams and now, I think we cannot complain,” Lopez said. “I was making $10,000 first round. I’m making $50,000 now. So the increase was amazing. This is because of the players probably, because of we deserve what we get.”

“But there (are) tournaments and they are struggling economically, and they are doing a lot of efforts to get as many sponsors and to be able to pay the prize money that we think we deserve. But the players, they also, we have to know, because when you work on the other side, you see how difficult it is to get as many sponsors in Madrid, which is the case, I work there, and I know how difficult it is to get all those sponsors every year.”

“Because every year is a huge increase. In the last year it was $1 million per year, and in our case, which is a combined event, it has to be double; $1 million for the men’s, $1 million for the girls. So it’s a huge amount of money. There is not many tournaments that they are able to (sustain) increasing the prize money. The issue is more than prize money. There are many things going on.”

“We don’t have a CEO now, so we are looking for a president,” Lopez said. “The prize money formula, also. There is many things. So hopefully I think by the end of the year everything’s gonna be okay. Because ATP has been growing lately, and I’m very confident that it’s going to be like this in the future.”

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44 comments

  • Jeff · July 1, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    I don’t understand exactly what this is about. I know money. But what exactly? It seems like all the players would want more.

    As for Gimelstob, I think he should be barred from the sport. But it seems like players like Djokovic, Popsipil and Anderson all like him so who am I to judge? I guess he is too powerful because of his tie-ins with Tennis Channel and writer Jon Wertheim’s agency.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 1, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    It looks like Ginelstob had some kind of master plan scheme to take reign of ATP as CEO president and he still has Djokovic support and Isner, Anderson, pospisil too. Nobody knows what this secret plan is, perhaps player boycott.

  • catherine · July 1, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    Player boycotts have been threatened before – they never work. There are always other players who take full advantage and the boycotting ones become extremely unpopular.

    Lopez is realistic about the prizemoney issue. Sponsors pockets are not bottomless.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 1, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    Catherine, and not every tournament is raking in the cash. We see on TV the 250s have majority of empty seats sometimes. Getting sponsors for smaller tournaments is a struggle. I like the point of view of Lopez and would like to see him in a leadership position.

  • Sherry · July 1, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    Kevin Anderson, the Men’s Tennis Council V.P., did not agree with Lopez. He said that the Madrid tournament, with a guaranteed slate of top players, had little to worry about, though Anderson was concerned about the 250s. I like Lopez, but bear in mind that his career as a player is unlikely to last more than a few years, whereas he is undoubtedly hoping his Madrid job will last far longer. So I’d call that a conflict of interest. Similarly, Tim Henman is no longer a player but is closely affiliated with Wimbledon, perhaps causing him to say that improved food in the player cafeteria and upgraded exercise facilities constitute the “Big Picture” that players should think about, not improving their income levels. We have no idea whether the players are actually trying to get more money from struggling 250s or, instead, are looking “where the money is”, the highly lucrative Grand Slam tournaments and the Master’s 1000s. According to Posposil, the U.S. Open in 1917 paid only 15% of revenues to the ATP/WTA players. Otherwise, tournament revenues are confidential information that is withheld from the players (said to be a reason for Djokovic’s dissatisfaction with Kermode). Most of the people on this site seem to side with the tournaments, not the players. Personally, I would rather see more money go to the “talent,” not to the administrators.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 1, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Good points Sherry, about Lopez and Henman now on the business side not the player side. But I do trust Lopez and Henman, they know both sides of this confrontation.

  • Sherry · July 1, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    Obviously, none of us as outsiders know too much about the inner workings of the Men’s Tennis Council. Even the “mole” didn’t reveal much of substance, except in making sure that all blame was directed at Djokovic, not Isner, Querrey, Posposil, and Lu (although their votes counted just as much as his). If what Djokovic is doing is indeed so terrible, then he will be voted out of office at the next election or will not run for re-election.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 1, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Interesting Djokovic is worried about the leaks, or alleged leaks. They should have nothing to hide and no hidden secret agendas from the other players or the public.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 1, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    Second most impressive win of the day was Moutet beating Dimitrov from two sets down and then 76 63 61. Dimitrov is probably finished as a serious threat to win a major and Agassi’s stock as a coach crashed again today. Moutet is on a fantastic hot streak since he turned down my Biofile interview in Tallahassee. He is becoming a major star. He is only 5-9 but is a magical lefty with uncanny talents.

  • Jeff · July 2, 2019 at 12:44 am

    I think we have to respect the fact that running a tennis tournament is very difficult. From sponsors to workers to concessions to ballkids to volunteers to transportation logistics, I respect how difficult it is to run a good tournament. Don’t forget how many ancillary events are around the tournaments to attract fans and sponsors; tournament directors are in charge of this.

    Yes the players are needed but it is proven they are replaceable. Meanwhile we have seen tournaments in the US like Memphis and LA disappear because of the money involved. And I have no problem with purses being big for events but when Alex Zverev needs a $400K appearance fee to play in DC, as it was revealed today, the players have already too much control.

    It is interesting to hear Anderson speak like this when his college coach was none other than Craig Tiley, who runs the Aussie Open. It is ungrateful for Anderson to speak out like this against a guy like Tiley who made him.

    So this is why I blame the players 100 percent for this stuff. You know things are bad when a nobody like Noah Rubin is complaining about his earnings.

  • catherine · July 2, 2019 at 6:17 am

    Jeff – I agree with you here. Years ago all this kind of stuff came up and before long it became quite clear that the players had absolutely no interest in tournaments apart from attending them and hauling away loot in the form of prizemoney (deserved) and appearance money (not so much).

    As you say, tournaments are hard work to run. Wimbledon is a year round event, it doesn’t just happen for two weeks in the summer. Over the time I’ve known the tournament it’s changed out of recognition (apart from the green paint) and none of the changes have come cheap. And all this needs administrators. Players can’t do that job. You wonder if some of them even know what it entails.

    Appearance money is a disgrace. It’s one of the worst kept secrets of so-called ‘Open’ tennis. I can’t see any difference between appearance money and the much-condemned under-the-table ‘expenses’ of the amateur era. I hope Zverev’s price on this market tumbles along with his recent performances.

    Re tournament revenues – I’m pretty sure Wimbledon’s revenues are public knowledge. How they could be witheld from the players I don’t know.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 2, 2019 at 9:45 am

    Jannik Schneider of Tennis Magazin Germany reports that Zverev has issues with his former agent, very messy, Zverev wants to join up with Federer Godsick or was he lured and tampered with? Also bothering Zverev is the speculation that poppa Zverev and Lendl are not on good terms and the Lendl price tag of about $5000 a day is a point of contention. I was told Annacone only earned about $5000 a week with Federer. We can see that most of Zverev’s problems are off the court and they are affecting him on court.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 2, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Will it be revealed that Federer Godsick have stole Zverev away from the ex agent Patricio Apey? We saw Schneider ask a question to Federer gently about this in Miami and he was shutdown from asking Federer any more questions the rest of the tournament about Zverev/Apey.

  • Jeff · July 2, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Yes, that is a good point that the players swoop in for only one week but like you say, the administrators have to run it year round.

    Also, the players are generally not educated and do not understand much of running a business. This is in contrast to US sports like basketball in which many players have gone to college and work more closely with their agents. So you want this uneducated group of mugs to have more control?

    The Zverev appearance fee isn’t talked about enough or that of the others. They are all disgraceful to what a tournament should be about, which is competition at its highest level.

  • catherine · July 2, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Kyrgios bt Thompson in 5 sets of hit ‘n giggle – Nick certainly knows what the crowd wants.

    No great shocks on women’s side (so far) – Angie survived Maria’s slice and dice in SS and looked quite lively. Her 8th straight win at W’don. Plays Lauren Davis next. The whites look good – some nice outfits this year.

    I think Thiem lost – saw a little of the match. Kiki was on the way to win hers.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 2, 2019 at 11:08 am

    Zverev sells tickets I guess, a lot of tickets. It’s the only explanation for why the Citi Open would award him so much money just to appear for a week, he could even lose first round and get the dough. And the players want more power?

  • catherine · July 2, 2019 at 11:17 am

    Scoop – I can’t see Sascha continuing to sell tickets if his downward slide continues. The background there sounds a bit shambolic. Lendl’s $5000 a day ? Money for old rope.

    Yes – Thiem lost to Querry 0-6 final set. Is he injured ?
    Kiki finished hers in 3.

    Bouchard out. Now why did I write that ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 2, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Q ball is back at his favorite tournament, now let’s see if Fritz can do even better. Fritz just crushed Sam in Eastbourne final

  • catherine · July 2, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    Bye bye Garbine. What’s it going to take to remove Sam ?

    No good running to Conchita – she won’t be back.

  • catherine · July 2, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    And bye bye Maria – retired 3rd set so I think this will be her last year playing. Will she retire at the USO ? I’d bet on it. Don’t think she can take endless humiliation.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 2, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Retiring at 0-5 down in the third has to be one of the dirtiest moves in tennis.

  • Jeff · July 2, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Querrey was inpired by winning that Kukushkin match. It sent him on the way to the final at Queen’s. I said that match would determine the rest of his career. Had he lost, he would have been finished. Amazing how one match can turn everything around, now he is playing with confidence and should easily beat Rublev.

    Maria is getting worse and the younger girls are better. She should stick to her businesses and leave the tennis to others. Tough loss also for Genie Bouchard, hard to believe she once reached the final.

  • Harold · July 2, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Speaking of inspiration, or, lack there of..Tomic lost a 3 setter to Tsinga in 58 minutes..That’s amazing.. He can add the money from his first round exit to his tens of millions..

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 2, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    Despite these bad losses I like Tomic, he is making a fortune playing tennis around the world against the best players. Like Evert and many great champions say now it’s not just about winning. It’s how you play the game blah blah blah. Respect to Tomic, not everyone can end up like Fed Rafa Djok Serena Maria etc. He accepts who he is and plays the sport on his terms. Nick does too.

  • Jeff · July 3, 2019 at 12:44 am

    Catherine, you hate Garbine like I do too? That is so great to see her lose, isn’t it? To see her as a complete failure on the tennis court.

    I mean, I respect her game and titles but I know how you feel, I just want her to lose every time. Makes people like us feel so good.

  • catherine · July 3, 2019 at 12:47 am

    Scoop – the problem with Tomic playing the sport on his terms is that very soon he won’t be around to play the sport at all. Or down in Challengers where great riches do not await.

    Serena playing mixed with Andy. Serena struggling in her first match against a qualifier may have concentrated her mind a little. Get some matches in.

  • catherine · July 3, 2019 at 1:00 am

    Jeff – I don’t really hate Garbine, I don’t have those feelings about tennis players, but she does exasperate me to the point of fury. You just want to reach out and shake her. Such a pointless waste of talent and not so nice a nature sometimes as we’ve seen in spats with Sumyck. She had Conchita there who helped her win W’don and she dumped her. The way she goes about things she deserves to lose. And she’s so strung up with fashion photos and stuff like that. Kerber does that too but Angie’s at least had a decent career. I mean if she retired now she can look back and know she did the best she could. I doubt Garbine will ever be able to do that.

    Can she make a big change now ? I won’t be betting.

  • Hartt · July 3, 2019 at 7:43 am

    Harold, it sounds as though Tomic will get docked his prize $ for tanking the match, so he won’t be adding it to “his tens of millions.”

    I think Catherine is right. Tomic will be so low in the rankings that he won’t have the opportunity to play big matches. He is at No.102 in the live rankings now, so at this rate he could have to play qualies for the USO.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 3, 2019 at 8:50 am

    The coach of a WTA player told me that this player did not want to win too much at a certain tourney or stretch of the year (can’t remember exactly) because then she would have too many points to defend the next year. I remember being stupified by this logic but now it makes more sense, maybe Tomic and other players manage their careers the same way, just to be a middle of the road player making a good living with no ambitions or aspirations to be the best.

  • Harold · July 3, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Hartt,

    I was a little sarcastic in “ the ten millions” remark. I think that’s part of Tomics brain going off the boil. He can’t deal with the failure, so he’s telling people, don’t worry about me, I have ten mil.

    Also fascinated how he might have might have ten mil? Prize earnings? No.. unless Nike( think they dumped him) gave him a huge amount to sign, or his racquet deal. Maybe he’s hustling old Aussies down under for big money. Sara Tomic never made it..

    Speaking of another too much too soon guy, where’s Ryan Harrison?

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 3, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Harrison skipped Wimbledon, he had an injury. He’ll be back for summer hard courts. He’s also outside top 100 now so will need to play qualies. Tomic wears mizuno now. I think he lost his drive and desire to be the best and is satisfied with his place. Why is it wrong for anybody to be happy and content with where they are in life?

  • Harold · July 3, 2019 at 10:53 am

    People will make excuses for guys they like, all the time. He’s dissing the game, his opponent, the people who paid to watch, his sponsors, his coach. Plus, he’s taking a spot from someone who might need the cash.

    If Kyrgios beats Nadal, all the hysteria from the past month will be forgotten, and a ride on the Kyrgios bandwagon will be loading up.

  • catherine · July 3, 2019 at 10:57 am

    It’s not wrong Scoop, it’s just that Tomic has decided to earn his living in a competitive sport and the appeal of sport at its highest, ie pro, level is that participants are actually competitive. If they are not, and it’s clear they are not, then the whole thing is a nonsense and the public is being defrauded. That’s why players who tank lose their prizemoney.

    If Bernie really wants to happy and contented why doesn’t he find another career ? Farming, fishing, gardening – anything. Just not pro tennis.

    Your WTA player falls into this category as well. People actually pay to see her not trying. Is the whole game a sham ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 3, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Doesn’t Tomic have freedom to use his body how he wants? Or is a he slave to the fans and media who are allowed to crack their whips and demand and force him to give 110% on every ball? Are we in a free world?

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 3, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Tomic does not have to drive the speed limit. He does not have to play full speed or intensity, he can coast to extend his career and body. Guys who went all out like kamikazes – Hewitt, Rafter, Kuerten – had to stop early. Maybe Tomic wants to play into his 40 and his preserving his body?

  • Harold · July 3, 2019 at 11:53 am

    You can’t put Tomic’s career in the same sentence as Hewitt, Rafter and Kuerten. Last week you had Che. Harrison in the same sentence as Kuerten.
    You keep putting people on the same level, that achievements are miles apart

    I get that you’re indebted to anyone that does a Biofile, but try to retain some reality of the levels..

  • catherine · July 3, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    You miss my point – pro tennis is a competition. You’re very quick to jump on Kyrgios if you think he’s just fooling around. Why give Tomic a free pass ?

    Players who are just ‘coasting’ tend to lose to players who are not. Go on losing and you’re out of the game. Simple.

    No – competitive sport is not a free world. I don’t know where you’re coming from. Federer is still playing at 37 (38 ?) because his game is super-economical and he’s chosen his schedule wisely as he’s got older. His longevity has nothing to do with not playing with intensity or putting on the brakes.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 3, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    Harold these players are all on the same level, they all have all the shots but only a select elite few win the big ones. Some get lucky, some deserve it, tennis is cruel. Tomic has apparently accepted he does not have what it takes. You have to admire that kind of self honesty. Is that more appealing and realistic than say someone like Harrison or Dimitrov saying they think they can still win majors? Give Tomic a break and try to see it his way.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 3, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Catherine, with Nick it’s different. He’s proven he can beat the big three, he’s beat Fedalkovic the first time he played each. Kyrgios has more charisma than any other player but he is wasting his rare talent. We know he can beat anyone anytime. We know he has what it takes to be a big champion and we all want to see it fulfill itself.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 3, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    I do put Tomic on the level of Hewitt, Rafter and Kuerten talent wise, but he’s missing that fraction of desire and drive, confidence and emotional adrenaline and that’s why he has failed to win as much. If Tomic had freakish levels of those qualities just mentioned along with his talent, he could have won a major or two and reached no. 1. But Tomic does not and he’s never been able to beat the super elites of the ATP.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 3, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Moutet levels it with Felix one set each. Verdasco up a fifth set break on Edmund 3-1. Moutet has some of that Rios magic.

  • Harold · July 3, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    Lopez played his two matches, and hes gone. At this rate, he can keep the streak alive, as long as he gets Wild Cards.

    Lopez should go to Newport.

  • Hartt · July 3, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Harold, I understood that you were being sarcastic with your remark about Tomic. The ATP site has him at just under $6 million in prize money. I doubt that his endorsements/appearance fees, even when he was doing well, would have amounted to $4 million. The thing for Tomic is that if he does put so much emphasis on the $, he will be sadly disappointed at what he brings in over the next few years if he continues to play so poorly.

  • Hartt · July 3, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    FAA did win his match against Moutet in 4 sets. Both youngsters were uneven, with some terrific play as well as some bad UFEs. But Felix was a bit better overall, especially later in the match. It must have been a novelty to play someone close to his own age.

    His next opponent will be another French youngster, 21-year-old Ugo Herbert. Felix is now at No.19 in the live rankings, a career high, but he could be passed by the end of Wimby. If he wins his next match he likely would face Novak in the following round.

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