Novak Djokovic called for the ATP Tour Finals to travel from their London base on Thursday, saying they were a big asset that should be exploited more. In its current format, the elite season-ending tournament has been held in the British city since 2009.
But with the announcement that Shenzhen in China will host the WTA Finals from 2019, with prize money doubled to $14 million, the Serb said it made sense for the men’s event to also cash in.
“I mean, that’s a big success for WTA, for all the female players. They deserve it. No doubt about it,” he said at the Australian Open. “When it comes down to World Tour Finals, for us and the ATP, London has been a great success for us.”
But Djokovic, who is president of the ATP Tour player council, added that it may be time for the event to now “travel”.
“Because it’s just probably the biggest leverage that we have. I mean, outside Grand Slams, ATP is obviously not behind Grand Slams. This is the biggest event that ATP has,” he said. “I think it’s probably the biggest asset. Best eight players in the world, singles players, best doubles players, are playing there.”
He acknowledged that London was a “safe” option and virtually all players only had praise for the event, but suggested it could be “exploited a little bit more”.
“It should be leveraged more because of the promotion of our sport,” he said. “If we want to grow our sport, especially in regions like China or those parts of the world where tennis is popular, I think we should think about it, just maybe travel it a little bit more.”
He said he wasn’t pinpointing China as a possible new venue, where women’s tennis is more popular than men’s thanks to the exploits of players such as Li Na, but it could be an option.
“Men’s tennis is picking up (in China) as well,” he said. “We also have some big events there that they are doing very well. Obviously they have great facilities. Chinese economy is obviously doing great. They love tennis. They put a lot of money into tennis.”
-Inputs by AFP