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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, October 24, 2019

 
Andrea Gaudenzi

Former world No. 18 Andrea Gaudenzi will succeed Chris Kermode as ATP Chairman for a four-year term, beginning January 1st, 2020.

Photo credit: ATP

The ATP has tapped a Top 20 player as its new  leader.

Former world No. 18 Andrea Gaudenzi has been appointed as ATP Chairman for a four-year term, starting on  January 1st, 2020.

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The 46-year-old Italian, who owns career victories over Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Goran Ivanisevic and several Top 10 players, has been a force on the Board of ATP Media, leading "the successful restructuring of the business which serves as the broadcast arm of the ATP Tour," the ATP said in a statement.

"The ATP has played a central part in my life in so many ways, and to be given this opportunity to serve as ATP Chairman is a true honour,” said Gaudenzi. “I look forward to overseeing the future direction of the Tour and building on the sport’s global success and popularity at what is unquestionably one of the most exciting times in the history of men’s professional tennis. I’m very thankful for this opportunity and can’t wait to get started in January.”

The owner of three ATP titles, Gaudenzi retired from the pro circuit in 2003 with a 219-231 career record.

Gaudenzi earned a law degree from the University of Bologna, Italy, followed by a Master of Business Administration at the International University of Monaco where he graduated with honors. Recently, Gaudenzi has held leadership positions at several start-up entertainment, tech and gaming businesses in London, including Musixmatch and Soldo, as well as serving on the Board of ATP Media.

“On behalf of the players, I’d like to welcome Andrea as the next Chairman of the ATP," Player Council president Novak Djokovic said in a statement. "As a former player, he has walked in our shoes, and has also become a successful entrepreneur following his playing career.

"He has all the qualities to lead the Tour and we look forward to working together for the benefit of the players and the sport more generally.”

The Monte-Carlo resident succeeds Chris Kermode, whose six-year term expires at the end of this year.



The ATP Board did not approve an extension of Kermode's contract during a March meeting at Indian Wells.

That created a fracture between some of tennis' top stars with Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka publicly supporting Kermode, while ATP Player Council president Novak Djokovic and other members of the council favored ousting Kermode, who they saw siding with tournaments over players on some issues.

The ATP Player Council imploded at Wimbledon 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 following a contentious seven-hour meeting.

"I am disappointed that nobody came and explained why. What's the real reason we don't have Chris continuing running our sport?" Nadal told the media in Indian Wells. "Probably the guys who are running the council, they didn't make the right job, because when they are there is they are there representing us, so normally they have to ask what's our opinion."

Nadal, Roger Federer and Jurgen Melzer returned to the player council in August and Djokovic downplayed reports of a political rift between the iconic champions during a meeting with the media in Miami earlier this year. 

World No. 1 Djokovic has repeatedly said he welcomes the input of all players, including the two men he's chasing in the all-time Grand Slam race, in the political process.

“We welcome them," Djokovic said. "I welcome them. Everybody welcomes them as anybody else who wants to join the political discussions. I have to remind you that that player council is only part of the structure. We are not part of the board.

"We are not deciding anything that has been voted on later on."

Gaudenzi will face several challenges in his new post that comes at a critical time in the ATP's evolution.


First, he must try to unify the various factions within the sport, which will not be easy given disparate interests at work.

Gaudenzi will also be tasked with addressing other player issues, including the current structure of the ATP Boad, which Djokovic has questioned, the players' quest for a bigger piece of the Grand Slam revenue pie and trying to reach a resolution with the ITF, which launches its new World Cup-style Davis Cup finals in Madrid next month.

The new Davis Cup final will be staged six weeks before the ATP Cup launches in Australia. Djokovic and Andy Murray have both asserted the two team competitions cannot coexist so closely on the calendar and have urged the governing bodies to work together and combine the Cups.

Gaudenzi's ascension to the ATP's top post continues a recent renaissance for Italian men's tennis.

In April, Fabio Fognini beat both Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev en route to the Monte-Carlo championship becoming the first Italian man to win a Masters crown. In June, the 32-year-old Fognini became the oldest man to crack the Top 10 for the first time.

Rome resident Matteo Berrettini reached the US Open semifinals last month becoming just the second Italian man to reach the US Open final four.

Last week, gifted 18-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner became the youngest ATP semifinalist in five years with his charge to the Antwerp semifinals.

Italy will solidify its status as a major men's tennis player as the city of Turin will host the ATP Finals from 2021 to 2025 after the season-ending event ends its successful run at London’s O2 Arena.


 

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