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Lopez on ATP: Everything Kind of a Mess


Tennis iron man Feliciano Lopez launched his record-extending 70th straight Grand Slam with a straight-sets Wimbledon win and a candid assessment of ATP politics: It's a mess.

The ATP player Council imploded as four members—Robin Haase, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Jamie Murray and Daniel Vallverdu—tendered their resignations after the election of Weller Evans to fill the departed Justin Gimelstob's spot on the ATP Board of Directors.

More: ATP Player Council Implodes

Controversy erupted following a seven-hour meeting on Friday night. The Telegraph reports Gimelstob, who pleaded no contest to assault last April and resigned his post on the ATP board, was in London last week, suggesting he still exerts influence. 

Queen's Club champion Lopez concedes the ATP's political structure is in disarray and predicts change is coming.

"There is many things going on right now in the ATP as an organization," Lopez told the media after his 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, sweep over Marcos Giron. "There is probably many changes coming up. I cannot tell you obviously in detail, but everything is falling apart.

"I think we still have time, so by the end of the year, we will hopefully, you know, have everything sorted out and we will have the player council again and everything's gonna be hopefully in the right direction again. For the moment, it's kind of a mess."

The 37-year-old Spaniard has a unique perspective serving as both Mutua Madrid Open tournament director and active player. Lopez says while players' desire to gain a greater piece of Grand Slam revenue with increased prize money is one reason for the division within the ATP, he believes the issues are deeper than prize-money pursuits.

"If you compare the prize money from when I started playing the slams and now, I think we cannot complain," Lopez said. "I was making $10,000 first round. I'm making 50,000 now. So the increase was amazing. This is because of the players probably, because of we deserve what we get.

"But there is tournaments and they are struggling economically, and they are doing a lot of efforts to get as many sponsors and to, you know, to be able to pay the prize money that we think we deserve. But the players, they also, we have to know, because when you work on the other side, you see how difficult it is to get as many sponsors in Madrid, which is the case, I work there, and I know how difficult it is to get all those sponsors every year.

"Because every year is a huge increase. In the last year it was 1 million per year, and in our case, which is a combined event, it has to be double; 1 million for the men's, 1 million for the girls. So it's a huge amount of money. There is not many tournaments that they are able to they're increasing the prize money. The issue is more than prize money. There are many things going on."

Among the ongoing issues is the search for a replacement for ATP CEO Chris Kermode, whose contract was not renewed despite support from prominent players, including Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka.

"We don't have a CEO now, so we are looking for a president," Lopez said. "The prize money formula, also. There is many things. So hopefully I think by the end of the year everything's gonna be okay. Because ATP has been growing lately, and I'm very confident that it's going to be like this in the future."

Photo credit: @TheQueensClub

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