Twelve days Madrid and Rome? No joy in the first year!
The extension of the ATP Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Rome may have brought more revenue to the ATP and WTA. She didn't help the fans.
by Jens Huiber
last edit: May 21, 2023, 07:26 pm
In Italy, people have completely different worries than the one that the never-ending rain has messed up a tennis tournament in Rome. In the small tennis bubble, on the other hand, two formerly one-week events in Madrid and the Italian capital have now been followed, which have been inflated to twelve match days each since this year. Mainly responsible for this, by the way: an Italian - namely Andrea Gaudenzi, who wants a never-ending stream of income from the renewed appreciation of the already overvalued 1000s. The WTA likes to get involved, there are also a few crumbs for the women.
So 96 players who fought for the title in Rome in the two individual tableaus. That is at least 32 more than in previous years. Good for all those who were now able to get a taste of Masters instead of Challenger air. Very properly honored Masters air, of course.
Sinner plays in front of empty grandstands
For local fans and TV viewers, however, the extension brought almost exactly zero added value. It also happens in Grand Slam tournaments that the stands in the really big stadiums are sparsely filled in the early rounds. On the other hand, the fact that a local hero like Jannik Sinner only plays his opening match in front of his closest relatives is a rarity. Especially on the beautiful Campo Centrale in the Foro Italico.
It's not a bad idea to hold the round of 16 for both sides on the same day. But if you then also have two quarter-final games for women in addition to the eight matches for men, it becomes difficult.
Basically, rest days are nice for all professionals and beneficial to the level of the games. However, if the TV and streaming rights are divided between the ATP and WTA tours as they are now (the men play the 1000s on Sky, the women can be followed in the stream on TennisChannel), then those responsible, especially at Sky, also asking whether the ATP ran somewhere: Until last year, the Fridays in Madrid and Rome were well occupied with the quarterfinals, before the big final weekend followed.
Momentum is lost
Anno 2023 there will be a free Friday for the men in Rome. Whatever momentum you had built up for the final phase was gone by then at the latest. Also for the fans who followed the matches in Rome from afar. As a punishment, it also rained in the Eternal City on Saturday. And the schedule faltered again - with a very late end to the second semi-final between Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Then all the rest days didn't help anymore.
But if you've learned one thing over the past few years: money talks. Which is why you can safely forget about a reduction to the earlier status. At most, the Challenger Tour can be happy: Because in Aix-en-Provence or in Bordeaux, for example, players suddenly showed up that you would not expect in a regular tour operation there.