Few men have been busier in recent weeks than David Haggerty. As president of the ITF (International Tennis Federation) and member of the IOC (International Olympic Committee), the follow-up of the Tokyo Olympics 2021 It has been more than exhaustive. Under exceptional circumstances, with no public in the stands, and with various issues flourishing as the tournament progressed, the Olympic tournament has been able to raffle them all until the end of today’s party.
Still, Haggerty is demanding and is already thinking about the next challenges that world tennis, and more specifically the ITF, may encounter. Those challenges focus on several themes that he clearly dissected in Around the Rings: from the presence of the PTPA as a major new player in the global tennis ecosystem, to the changes in the next Olympic Games in Paris 2024, to the important possibility of that Hopman Cup be part of the circuit again from 2022 … and in Europe. Haggery spoke of all this and more.
The return of the Hopman Cup
“For 25 years we have had a great event in Perth. We want this tournament to come back because we love seeing men and women compete together in a single event. It is something that is going to be part of the calendar again, we are working with several companies and We are very close to being able to make an official announcement. There are different options, but most likely it will be played in Europe. We will communicate our decision in the next two weeks.
The Hopman Cup has always been a way for players to start the season, so that they are guaranteed three games in their first competition. In our last Hopman Cup we had Roger and Serena, who had never faced each other before, and we managed to fill the stadium, 23,000 people, it was totally full. We believe that the social aspect of mixed doubles, of seeing men and women together, makes all the sense in the world. “
Discussions about rule changes in tennis
“We believe that debating about changing some rules is part of our responsibility with tennis. We are experimenting to play without let in junior tournaments. The ball hits the net and you keep playing: this is something that has been done in American collegiate tennis. for a very long time. It manages to speed up the game and end any controversy, it could be exciting. Maybe we also have the possibility of playing with a single serve, although I do not think that we are ready for that yet. We should try things: if they work, the we move up the circuit. “
Changes ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics
“The tournament this season has been great, the players know the environment and like it. The biggest challenge is that we barely have nine days to play five events, for 200 players to play. The days have become long at the beginning of the tournament, with 48 games a day, 12 courts with four games each … we may need an extra two days to set it all in. 11 days would allow us to play the entire competition and ensure the players an extra break.
The players want it that way, they have been talking to us and almost everyone wants to play both singles and doubles, many even want to sign up for mixed doubles. They understand that, from an organizational perspective, having two more days lightens everything up. The IOC (Olympic Committee) supports us in this decision, now we have to talk with the different actors of the circuit to prepare for Paris. The venue for the Games will be Roland Garros, a great venue. ”
Relationship with PTPA
“The ITF always wants to have good relations with the players and also with the tournaments. We have a great relationship with Novak (Djokovic), we work hand in hand with ATP and WTA. This is something that is probably more of a discussion between PTPA and ATP in right now, maybe with the WTA as well. “
Negotiations to delay the conference in Tokyo with Novak Djokovic
“We met with Djokovic: our idea was always for the matches to start late, but when you have so many matches at the beginning of the competition you run the risk of the tournament being delayed. The first two days we have 48 matches, the second day 36, the third day 24. Once you got over that obstacle … also, on the first day they predicted a typhoon that could have delayed the competition even more. If that had happened, we would have had to delay the end of the tournament. We spoke with the captains and also with Novak: He understood the complexity of our company and I think everyone was happy, so were we, we wanted to start at three in the afternoon, but starting from the first day at that time was simply impossible.
Tokyo is in a state of alarm and, in theory, we were supposed to finish the games at 11pm. If we had started the day at three in the afternoon for the first two days, we would have finished the days at 2:20 in the morning, and that was simply not feasible. These are many of the complexities that we work with in an event like this, which brings together more than 800 staff members plus volunteers, which included curfews … we did the best we could. ”