“Lose More Money By Doing That”: ATP Chief Says No to Replicating NBA Bubble in Tennis

Published 03/21/2021, 9:58 AM EDT
A detailed view of an ATP TOUR logo on a tennis net during the semifinal round of the Western & Southern Open at Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 17, 2019 in Mason, Ohio. (Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Amid concerns raised by some players over closed-door events and moving from one bubble to another on Tour, ATP chief Andrea Gaudenzi has opened up on the issue. In an interview with news agency Reuters, Gaudenzi said that the NBA model was examined as an alternative but deemed not to be feasible for tennis.


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ATP chief Andrea Gaudenzi says centralized bubble may drive away broadcasters and sponsors

In a novel move to ensure player safety and cut down the risk of infection during the season, American National Basketball Association (NBA) put up all participating players, coaches, and staff at its sprawling campus of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.


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It was decided that all teams reaching the play-offs would stay put at the centralized bubble till the season was done and dusted.

What’s more, the latest round of tests across teams came back negative for Covid-19, fueling talk of a similar model being introduced in tennis as well.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and forward Kyle Kuzma (0) and guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (third from right) and forward Anthony Davis (3) huddle during the first half of a NBA basketball first round playoff game against the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2020 NBA playoffs at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

However, Gaudenzi said it’s been determined that the NBA model won’t be sustainable for the ATP as its events are held across geographies.

“Unfortunately for tennis, because we’re global, different continents, different time zones, you move an event to a different location, not only do you lose ticketing but then you lose sponsorship as well,” the ATP chief said.

He added that if all players are shifted to a centralized bubble, the broadcasters and sponsors would be forced into renegotiations with the governing body of men’s tennis and may even withdraw from tournaments they were contracted to cover and fund.

ATP chief Andrea Gaudenzi says the NBA bubble is not a sustainable model for tennis

“So you basically have to start, almost from zero. Ticketing, sponsorship and broadcast, completely review the platform from a revenue standpoint,” Gaudenzi added.

He said that while borrowing the NBA model will spare players the hassle of traveling in times of Covid, checking into a different bubble each time, it won’t help the funds crisis that the ATP is grappling with currently.


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Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 12, 2021 Canada’s Denis Shapovalov in action during his third round match against Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

“You lose more money by doing that,” the ATP chief argued.


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The likes of veteran French tennis star Benoit Paire and rising Canadian Denis Shapovalov recently spoke up on how the bubbles were leaving players short on motivation to compete, especially at a time when the prize money at most events is being reduced because of the pandemic.


Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.