The ATP announced significant changes to its Challenger Tour setup on Monday in a move to streamline the sport at lower levels in the men’s circuit and enable more players make a living from tennis.
The most notable modification was the extension of the singles main draw from 32 to 48 players, while ensuring that every participant in the main draw earns prize money from the event.
“These are significant changes that will lead to a real enhancement of the ATP Challenger Tour, particularly as we seek to provide more earning opportunities for players at the entry level into men’s professional tennis,” Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman and President, said.
“A big priority for us is to ensure we have a healthy player pathway and that we improve the viability of a career in men’s professional tennis. These changes represent an important step in the right direction for our sport.”
The Challenger Tour in 2018 will feature more than 160 tournaments worldwide. Here are the changes, as explained by the ATP World Tour website.
The singles main draw size at ATP Challenger Tour events will increase from 32 to 48. Tournaments will also feature a 4‐player qualifying event, with two qualifiers advancing into the main draw. In doubles, a 16-team draw will continue to feature.
Tournaments will take place across 7 days from Monday to Sunday including qualifying, which should improve player scheduling due to no overlap from week to week between respective tournaments. Right now, qualifying for events takes place over the weekend – that will not be the case going forward.
Starting in 2019, all ATP Challenger tournaments will provide hotel accommodation for all main draw players. In total, this will constitute an approximate 20,000 additional room nights provided for players throughout the season.
All main draw players will earn prize money. The increased singles main draw size (from 32 to 48) will lead to 16 more players per tournament earning prize money from 2019. Based on the same number of events taking place as today, it is estimated that an additional US$ 1 million will be generated through prize money. The highest-level Challengers will offer US$ 162,480 in 2019.
ATP Challenger Tour tournament categories will be re-branded in accordance with the number of ATP Rankings points on offer to the respective tournament champion, as is currently the case on the ATP World Tour (ATP World Tour 250, 500, and Masters 1000). There will be five ATP Challenger Tour categories – ATP Challenger 70, 80, 95, 110 and 125.
On-Site Facilities, Conditions & Streaming
Increased services will be offered across ATP Officiating as well as ATP Medical Services, with better access on offer to qualified Physiotherapists. Several enhancements will also be made to on-site conditions with more practice courts available, as well as improved player treatment facilities. In addition, from 2019 all main draw singles matches are intended to be streamed online, meaning the number of matches available to viewers worldwide will more than double.