To the perception of many, top-flight tennis is
currently enjoying a post Wimbledon hiatus or a summer break before the
intensity of the US Open series begins.
Indeed the sport’s most photogenic couple Maria
Sharapova and Grigor Dimitrov have been caught by paparazzi taking it
easy in Mexico, Rafael Nadal acting similarly in Ibiza and world no.1
Novak Djokovic is enjoying his honeymoon.
However there is no letup in the hectic travel
schedule of the ATP World Tour’s executive chairman and president Chris
Kermode who is committed to sample as many tournaments as possible in
his first year in office to determine what changes could be made to
streamline men’s tennis is the future.
This week Kermode was in Hamburg for the
bet-at-home Open, once a major event in the Masters 1000 roster, then
the center of a massive law suit between the ATP World Tour and the
Deutscher Tennis Bund (German Tennis Federation) and now, under the
tournament directorship of former Wimbledon champion Michael Stich,
making a determined effort to prove the historic Rothenbaum can still
lure the big crowds.
Factions of the DTB were under the opinion the
Hamburg tournament’s future was again precarious if Stich and his fellow
organizers did not change the surface from clay to grass and now
Stuttgart has agreed to the switch in time for the enlarged gap between
the French Open and Wimbledon in 2015.
Kermode refuted claims saying: “I've definitely
never heard of such a thing, and there is not anything like a threat on
our side. Stuttgart has finally agreed to go to grass and that's a great
thing that we support very much. But that does not mean that other
tournaments in Germany have a disadvantage. The fact is that Hamburg is
an important tournament for us. ”
The 49 year-old Englishman who was appointed the
ATP chief at the close of last year to succeed the late Brad Drewett was
not prepared to make any long term promises for any tournament beyond
“The same is true for each of our 61 events in
31 countries,” said Kermode. “We will subject all our tournaments a
thorough investigation in the coming year and look where we need to make
changes. Our plan is that for 2018 we can set binding prize money and
formulate up the calendar so that the organizers can plan long term.
Perhaps these investigations will show that everything right now is
Kermode maintained his goal was to make each
tournament on the ATP World Tour increasingly attractive. However he is
also intent on safeguarding the welfare for the top players who need a
less physically demanding schedule with the possibility of more breaks.
As being both a former player and a tournament
director, with a long history at London’s Aegon Championships at Queen’s
Club and more recently the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, he can see
issues from both sides. “My job is to see these conflicting issues that
some take for granted,” he said . “As a player, you do not have sound
knowledge of the business done by a tournament director. As the
organizer you might see too much the economic side. Because I know both
sides from my own experience, I see myself as somebody who can bring the
two sides together.”