LONDON, November 19, 2016
Following a competitive bid process, the ATP has announced Saturday that Milan, Italy, will host a new ATP tournament featuring the world’s top 21-and-Under singles players of the ATP World Tour season.
The event, named the Next Gen ATP Finals, will take place over five days at the Fiera Milano stadium from 7-11 November, 2017, and will remain in Milan for a five-year period, through 2021.
A season-long “Emirates ATP Race to Milan”, starting in January, will see the world’s best up-and-coming talents battle to qualify for the tournament. The Top 7 players in the race will qualify automatically, while the eighth spot will be reserved for a wild card.
Kermode: “Changing Of The Guard Is Coming!”
ATP Executive Chairman & President, Chris Kermode, said: “This is an event we’ve worked on for a couple of years. The emphasis comes from a couple of points. One is we had an idea of we took — everybody in the sport, the ATP, everybody involved, ITF, media, TV, everybody has promoted heavily the sort of top players as the big four for the last 10 years. As a result, we’ve had quite a top-heavy period in our game. Quite rightly, because they’ve won a huge amount of events.
What we need to do as the ATP, we have a responsibility to market many more players to a much wider audience. The big focus for us is we’re at this incredible time in tennis where we’re at almost the changing of the guard. We have superstars in the game that have transcended the sport over the last 10 years, reached beyond tennis and become global sporting icons, Roger, Rafa, Novak and Andy in particular. But the changing of the guard is coming. We have a duty to start highlighting and really bringing to life characters in the game that are coming through with immense, immense talent. One of them is right sitting next to me (Frances Tiafoe). This is the future of the game. There are many of them. The exciting thing for me is we need to tell their story to a much bigger audience. We need to tell their backstory to a much bigger audience.”
The capacity of the venue, which is located in front of the entrance of the metro, will be about 4,000 to 5,000 seats and it will be a singles competition only. The ATP Media is selling the event globally for TV coverage.
“We’re delighted to bring this new world class event to Milan. The next generation of players coming through on the ATP World Tour is gathering huge momentum. This event will provide a platform for the stars of the future to showcase their talents on a global stage. We received significant interest from a number of cities worldwide, and we’re pleased to partner with the Italian Tennis Federation in Milan in this new venture.”
Tournamet Will Feature Trial Of Rule Changes
The tournament will trial a number of rule changes and innovations, to be announced in due course, with a view to ensuring continued growth in popularity of men’s professional tennis.
“We are going to use this event as a test case for any new innovation that we want to try. This has been a fascinating couple of years. The great thing about sport is everyone is an armchair expert. We all are so passionate about the game. Anyone who watches the game is passionate about the sport and has a very strong view of where the game should go,” Kermode said and added:
“People throw out ideas, getting rid of this, making it quicker, longer, whatever you have to say. I think we have to put it in an event and test case all this stuff. Until you see it, it’s difficult to see whether some ideas work or not. We have a duty as the ATP World Tour to be looking not just at the next generation of players but the next generation of fans and how we are going to interact with millennials who are viewing any entertainment product in a completely different way, different formats, different styles. How can our product still be relevant in the next 10, 15 years? All sport is going to face it. I want the ATP World Tour to be at the forefront of that because I do believe men’s professional tennis, the ATP World Tour, is the greatest global sports entertainment product in the world, and we need to keep that going into the future.”
Angelo Binaghi, President of the Italian Tennis Federation, said: “We are proud that the ATP has made the decision to bring such an important and new event to Italy and to Milan. To host the stars who are already shining brightly today and will be the leaders of the circuit in the future perfectly reflects the philosophy of our federation which is to approach the young talents who will be the main actors of the Tour in the near future. With its choice, the ATP has shown its long-term vision: to promote the Next Generation is to ensure the continued success of tennis in years ahead.”
Round Robin Format Followed By Knocked-Out Semis And Final
The event will award US$ 1.25 million in prize money, and will follow a similar format to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, with a round robin group stage followed by knock-out semi-finals and a final. While Emirates ATP Ranking points will serve as the criteria for entry, the tournament itself will not carry points.
“We did think long and hard about the points,” Kermode explained. “Actually we came to the conclusion that we are going to test case lots of this stuff, if you throw points in, I think it’s a little bit unreasonable. If players have been playing in a certain format throughout the whole year, I say you’re going to play best of one point, Frances may not think that is a good idea. When we carry on with this event, we’ve done the test case, then down the future I think we will, yes.”
ATP Challenger Finals Blend Of Seeds Of That Idea
As there will be no ATP Challenger Finals held this season, at this stage the ATP Next Gen Final might be considered as a kind of replacement to this tournament, which took place in Sao Paulo from 2011 to 2015.
“The Challenger Finals was a good idea. It never established roots, to be honest. I think this is an opportunity to get a blend of what we were trying to do. It was my predecessors that did that. It’s a blend of a seed of that idea. I think this is going to be hugely successful because it has other elements,” Kermode told.
The press conference in London was also attended by Stefan Edberg as well as Frances Tiafoe, representing one of ATP’s NextGen stars. “We’re incredibly excited about the event. Definitely it’s going to be a great event. I want to thank the ATP for everything they’ve done launching the Next Gen. It was a huge deal for us, a bunch of different personalities. I think it’s going to be a really good turnout, really excited for it,” the 18-year-old US-American said.
A theoretical 2016 line-up would have been led by Alexander Zverev of Germany, ranked world No. 21. He would be joined by Croatian Borna Coric, Karen Khachanov from Russia, Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Jared Donaldson from the United States. Daniil Medvedev of Russia would be the seventh competitor.