Dubai: The tennis world hopes for an amicable solution between its two governing bodies — Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and International Tennis Federation (ITF) — over the proposed rival team competitions later this year which seems to work at cross purposes.
Anil Khanna, one of the three vice-presidents to ITF supremo David Haggerty, was hopeful of a solution through talks that would benefit both parties.
“For the sake of the sport, we can only hope for better sense to prevail,” Khanna told Gulf News during a visit to Dubai earlier this week.
The ITF and ATP are headed towards a collision course ever since the two bodies embarked on two separate competitions for teams. The ITF was the first to announce plans for a new World Cup of Tennis Finals exactly one year ago, while the ATP followed suit with its own version called the ATP Cup — with support from the likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
Backed by Spain and FC Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique’s Kosmos Group’s proposed $3 billion (Dhs 11 billion) spread over a 25-year period, the ITF competition will actually be a revamped edition of the Davis Cup with the best 18 nations playing at the end of each season in November.
The inaugural edition of this competition is scheduled to be held in Madrid, Spain this year. It will involve a round-robin stage, with the top eight teams advancing to the knockout rounds.
The ATP Cup, on the other hand, will feature $15 million in prize money with up to 750 ranking points scheduled to be held for the first time in three Australian cities — Brisbane and Sydney have been already named — over 10 days from January 3, 2020 as a lead-up to the season-opening grand slam in Melbourne.
Khanna, who also doubles up as president of the influential Asian Tennis Federation (ATF), said: “We have already begun talks, and in the future too we want the two governing bodies (ITF and ATP) to continue talking so that we can come to a favourable conclusion,” he added.
With ITF elections scheduled to be held in Lisbon, in October this year, perhaps one of the great catalysts could be Ireland’s Dave Miley throwing in his hat to contest against American Haggerty to head the ITF for the next four years. “The ITF is an institution and its functioning will continue irrelevant of who is at the top. Nothing can affect, or rather, nothing should affect its functioning,” Khanna observed.
“Things should become clearer by the end of May when the final nominations for the ITF elections are finalised. The hope for us, as always, is that governing bodies from nations will speak and support our competition,” he stressed.
Former Irish national tennis champion Dave Miley has announced his intention to run in the ITF presidential elections scheduled for September 2019 in Lisbon. Miley ran for the position of Tennis Ireland chief executive following the retirement of Des Allen in 2016. Richard Fahy, who previously worked in the Football Association of Ireland, was subsequently appointed.
Unhappy with the interview process, Miley filed a complaint against Tennis Ireland, which was upheld by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in July 2017. The WRC subsequently ruled Tennis Ireland guilty of age discrimination, contrary to employment equality law, with Miley awarded damages of €6,500.
“As of now, we all know that the ITF President is in touch with the people from the ATP and that’s a good thing as we are moving in the right direction,” added Khanna.