ATP war with ITF set to continue over Davis Cup re-invention.
Brisbane local and 38th-ranked John Millman is fearful for the future of the season-starting ATP-WTA event in his hometown as the tournament heads into what could well be its final edition in a month.
The competition is likely to fall victim to the bureaucratic battle between organisers of what critics consider a rogue, mini-version of the Davis Cup, which will comprise a one-week 18-nation final in late November, 2019 in Madrid, buoyed by Spanish and Japanese money to the tune of $3 billion over 25 years.
The Spanish-run show is taking heavy fire from the ATP, which is planning to revive the dormant World Team Cup and position that event over the January Australian tennis weeks leading up to the Open in 2020.
As a result of the counter-move, the Brisbane and Sydney ATP-WTA events plus the celebrated Hopman Cup teams tournament in Perth are likely to lose out – even if tennis survives in some form or another in the trio of state capitals.
The plan has Millman concerned about his popular hometown event which traditionally kick-starts the season in late December.
Tennis Australia, an airtight partner with the ATP in the war against the International Tennis Federation’s Davis Cup re-write, has promised to throw a bone of some kind to the Aussie cities likely to lose their Tour events.
That would likely come in the form of playoffs which would comprise the early stages of the 24-team WTC.
But nothing is certain and few promises have been made to desperate local organisers in the tennis-mad nation.
Tennis Australia has said that Brisbane will get a look-in as one of the cities included in the WTC event.
But it is, as usual, all about the money as tennis suits discuss their options with various city officials with tourism subsidies certainly an important part of any conversations.
Queensland’s state tourism boss has already voiced some concerns. Kate Jones told local media that legal action as a remedy could not be ruled out. Brisbane has a contract with Tennis Australia until 2021 to run the combined men’s and women’s event as per normal.
Millman told News Corp media that he has “reservations’’ about the entire WTC concept and $the 15 million in prize-money – plus ranking points – on the table.
“It’s a real shame the ATP won’t have a tournament in Brisbane anymore,” Millman said. “The State Government and the people of Queensland have really got behind the tournament,.
“The WTC will be an intriguing format and I hope it is successful. I have my reservations but I could be proved wrong.
“I don’t know how it’s going to work with the ITF having one (the 2019 Davis Cup finals) in November and the ATP one in early January.
“This game is about the fans and they deserve the best tennis in their backyard after supporting this tournament so well for so many years.’’