Kyrgios no fan of Federer's radical plan for tennis
Roger Federer believes the coronavirus lay-off should prompt a discussion about a merging of the men's and women's tours - but it seems Australian star Nick Kyrgios doesn't agree.
Amid increased collaboration between the ATP and WTA Tours in recent weeks and also the other ruling bodies of tennis, Federer tweeted it was possible the sport could emerge from the current crisis in a stronger position if co-operation could be achieved.
"Just wondering … am I the only one thinking that now is the time for men's and women's tennis to be united and come together as one?" he wrote.
"I am not talking about merging competition on the court, but merging the two governing bodies (ATP and WTA) that oversee the men's and women's professional tours.
Just wondering…..am I the only one thinking that now is the time for men’s and women’s tennis to be united and come together as one?— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) April 22, 2020
I am not talking about merging competition on the court, but merging the 2 governing bodies (ATP and WTA) that oversee the men’s and women’s professional tours….— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) April 22, 2020
"It probably should have happened a long time ago, but maybe now is really the time.
"These are tough times in every sport and we can come out of this with two weakened bodies or one stronger body."
The rival tours have regularly sparred over prize money, finances and court and timeslot allocations, among other areas of disagreement.
But with tennis suspended until at least August and most probably beyond due to COVID-19, the crisis may create an opportunity.
Federer, a former ATP Players Council president who was instrumental in starting the Laver Cup, is arguably the most influential person in tennis.
His appraisal follows suggestions in recent weeks that authorities are contemplating what tennis will look like in the aftermath of the crisis.
However, world no. 40 Kyrgios was quick to return serve on Twitter, questioning whether players other than Federer would support a merge.
Yes— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) April 22, 2020
Did anyone ask the majority of the ATP what they think about merging with the WTA and how it is good for us?— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) April 22, 2020
While, Federer's long-time nemesis on court, Rafael Nadal, has added his support to the concept.
Hey @rogerfederer as you know per our discussions I completely agree that it would be great to get out of this world crisis with the union of men's and women's tennis in one only organisation 🎾👍🏻 https://t.co/fTCfvMiU4G— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) April 22, 2020
The driving force behind the development of a women's tour, American legend Billie Jean-King, also voiced approval.
She said the initial idea had been to ensure the two tours became one when driving the introduction of a women's tour 50 years ago.
"I agree, and have been saying so since the early 1970s," she said.
"One voice, women and men together, has long been my vision for tennis. The WTA on its own was always Plan B.
"I'm glad we are on the same page. Let's make it happen."
I agree, and have been saying so since the early 1970s. One voice, women and men together, has long been my vision for tennis.— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) April 22, 2020
The WTA on its own was always Plan B.
I’m glad we are on the same page.
Let’s make it happen. #OneVoice https://t.co/FHbQHLiY6v
ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi recently said there was increasing collaboration between tour bodies.
"Where I see the sport in the future is one sport, basically providing a better fan experience, focusing on the fan first," he told the ATP website.
"We have to deliver a better experience, especially in terms of media and data distribution. We do a great job on-site, on the events.
"But the second part, the most difficult, is actually to align the stakeholders. Players and tournaments currently, in the past, have been spending most of their time trying to solve internal conflicts. That is where most of the time, energy and resources were spent, while in reality, our competition lays outside.
"We compete with other sports, we compete with other entertainment platforms. The technology is evolving rapidly, so we need to invest in people, human capital. We need to invest in technology and we need to work more closely with the other organisations, specifically the WTA, the ITF and the other Grand Slams because together, combined, we can invest more in technology and innovation and we can provide a better experience to the fans, which is key here."
Former WTA Tour chief executive Anne Worcester said last week the time had come for the two tours to combine.
"I've always believed that the right thing for tennis is for there to be one entity, and one commissioner, with plenty of independence in all the right ways," she told Forbes.
"I do think that the silver lining of this crisis will be increased collaboration. To what extent, I don't know.
"I always say, 'Crisis reduces smugness' and really increases the sense of collaboration. If tennis is going to come out of this and compete, we've really got to get it right this time around."
Originally published as Nick Kyrgios fires back at Roger Federer