Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 12 July 2020

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships chief backs Roger Federer's merger plan

Salah Tahlak calls idea to united men's and women's tours a 'no brainer' that 'could be good for tennis'

Roger Federer, pictured with fellow Swiss player Belinda Bencic, said the men's and women's tours should merge in an effort to help lower-level players deal with the financial fallout of the coronavirus crisis. Getty
Roger Federer, pictured with fellow Swiss player Belinda Bencic, said the men's and women's tours should merge in an effort to help lower-level players deal with the financial fallout of the coronavirus crisis. Getty

Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships tournament director Salah Tahlak has welcomed the idea of a merger between the men’s and women’s tennis tours, in light of Roger Federer’s tweets that reopened the subject on Wednesday.

Dubai hosts a WTA event and an ATP event in back-to-back weeks each February, attracting star-studded fields and sell-out crowds.

Tahlak, who serves on the ATP Tournament Council and has held a similar position on the WTA side in the past, shared his thoughts on what a unified tour would mean, and why he believes it’s a good idea.

“There could be a number of benefits in terms of coordinating the calendar – especially for combined and back-to-back events – equal prize money objectives, pooling of officials, and most importantly negotiating for a bigger slice with media companies for combined rights,” Tahlak told The National.

“There would be issues in terms of deciding share of revenues and scheduling, but these issues could be ironed out and a compromise could be reached with tournament owners and promoters, if there was just one governing body.

“Since Dubai is a back-to-back event, and Dubai was one of the first events to offer equal prize money, as a tournament director I would welcome dealing with one governing body for both weeks. It’s a no-brainer. It makes sense and could be good for tennis overall.”

When squash merged its men’s and women’s tours at the end of 2014, all top-tier tournaments were required to have tournaments for both genders, and were given a maximum of three years to offer equal prize money.

Ziad Al-Turki, the chairman of the Professional Squash Association (PSA), explains how tournament promoters reacted to the change, and how the merge ultimately benefited everyone.

Salah Tahlak, tournament director of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, said he would welcome dealing with one governing body in tennis. Reem Mohammed/The National
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships tournament director, Salah Tahlak, said he would welcome dealing with one governing body in tennis. Reem Mohammed/The National

“It depends on the promoter. When I took over, I wanted to change the whole image of the tour, I wanted to change the way things were presented and everything. Some people accepted it and some people resisted,” said the Saudi supremo.

“They were like, ‘We’ve been doing a tournament, I’ve been spending $100,000 [Dh367,000] on it and now you’re telling me I have to spent $400,000?’ But everything trickles down and eventually you have to ride this wave and then go with it and we ultimately succeeded.

“We have some men’s tournaments, and we didn’t push them to have women, now all of a sudden they realised, ‘We should have women, because it’s better for us and it makes the tournament more attractive’. Even though they’re not top-tier, so they’re not required to, but they want to.”

Updated: April 23, 2020 05:32 PM

SHARE

SHARE

Editor's Picks
THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email
Most Popular