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View Full Version : Must be tough for the ATP to developp a fan base


frenchvee
Jun 10th, 2002, 12:39 AM
With Costa winning the french open

From the ATP
It's the first time in the Open era that there have been four straight first-time Grand Slam winners, with Costa following Ivanisevic at Wimbledon, Lleyton Hewitt at the U.S. Open, and Thomas Johansson at the Australian Open.

Another sign that there is depth in men's tennis -- and no superstar -- right now: The past eight majors have been won by eight men.


Depth is good at the middle but not at the top in my opinion
What do you think, they can't even develop good rivalry like the wta

angele87
Jun 10th, 2002, 12:52 AM
Well I don't think the problem is too much depth on the men's side I think it's more or less that the dominating players on hard courts, aren't very good on clay and vice versa so right now you have a very dominating (in term of ranking points) world number one (Lleyton) who is just so so on clay and last year you had a very dominating number one (Guga) who wasn't very good on hardcourts and on grass... the wta doesn't really have that problem. The top ten are all about the same on all surfaces so the rivalries are there all year and the fanbase has time to build up throughout the year where as on the men's side, it doesn't. For example, somebody who just happened to start watching tennis this week will have a chance to watch and support venus and serena a lot throught the year where as Costa and Juanqui probably won't win very much until the clay court season next year :(

Cassius
Jun 10th, 2002, 12:59 AM
I agree with ANGELE87.
I was going to say the exact same thing.

tennischick
Jun 10th, 2002, 01:12 AM
good point Angele and nice post. but i still think the ATP has more depth now than it did say during the Sampras/Agassi era. (and Sampras dominated for years despite his inablity to win on clay). lack of depth creates better rivalries at the top. depth means that it's anyone's game. the WTA is therefore now where the ATP used to be -- top-heavy, a handful of players dominating. which is why the WTA can still market its "stars". it is up to the ATP to find creative new ways of marketing its new depth as a good thing and stop focussing almost exclusively on the "new balls". the "star" era of the ATP is probably over -- despite Lleyton's huge lead.

angele87
Jun 10th, 2002, 01:27 AM
I totally agree, the ATP has more depth now than it had in the Sampras/Agassi era however it's debatable whether or not that's a good or bad thing for the ATP. Sure it's great that different players are winning every week and that it's impossible to predict who will win a certain tournament but things like that aren't very good to build a fanbase. When Sampras and Agassi were winning all the time, a lot of people became big fans of theirs and in turn fans of tennis and now that they're (well mostly Sampras really) not as good as they use to be, those people are still watching tennis and in time have discovered new players to support. But right now it's true that there are a lot of die hard fans (as seen on this board) but it's going to become rarer and rarer that just the occasional tennis watcher becomes a die hard fan because it's hard to find one player to support throughout the year and to become a die hard fan you need to really watch tennis for more than a month. I think right now the WTA has the best formula to attract new fans. IMO what the ATP needs right now is a dominating player, a big name to pop up, to popularize atp tennis. The WTA right now has that with the Williams sisters plus Anna but the ATP doesn't really have anybody to attract people to the sport and it's a damn shame because non-atp fans don't know what they're missing out on.

ttaM
Jun 10th, 2002, 01:32 AM
http://www.stopstart.fsnet.co.uk/smilie/boohoo.gif

The ATP will survive

Johnny Mac said the tour is in need of a dominating player. I think its true. The crowd really need someone they can cheer for or boo. Whatever way you look at it I guess.

tennischick
Jun 10th, 2002, 01:32 AM
Angele:
oh i agree that it is not a good thing to have this much depth. it's bad for developing a fan base as you point out. the point of good marketing is to take something bad -- like coffee, cigarettes and sausage -- and get us to feel good about ourselves when we consume them. and since depth is not going to go away, the ATP will have to find incredibly creative ways of marketing it as a good thing. the WTA will face the same problem in another 10 years or so. coke or pepsi?

baleineau
Jun 10th, 2002, 01:40 AM
the WTA is doing well the last 3-4 years, but is starting to fall away again IMO. Lindsay, Martina and Anna's injury problems are largely responsible, because you get a situation where there are only three real contenders for the Slams without them (Venus, Serena and Jen). The other top players (Kim, Justine, Monica, Jelena and Amelie) don't look like winning the Slams. They'll pick up a couple of Tier I and Tier II events per year, but that's about it.

In the early- to mid-1990s, the WTA suffered badly from lack of depth beyond the top-5, and even then Graf, Seles or ASV almost always picked up the titles. The WTA is not like this yet, but it could swing back soon to this level.

Also, there are different kinds of depth. On the ATP tour, the depth comes from there genuinely being around 20-30 guys that have a chance to win big titles through being broadly equal in their play. On the WTA, the recent increase in depth has largely been through injuries to key players at the top, creating pseudo depth.

angele87
Jun 10th, 2002, 01:51 AM
I hate both coke and pepsi :p

I agree with you though tennischick, depth can be a great thing. Depth is a great thing but it's almost like talent... great when it's utilized but a totaly waste when it's not. The ATP need to find a way to show off their depth but it's going to be hard without one player that can really attract the general public's attention because (although it's a real shame to say it) tennis isn't a sport that can just attract the general sports fan the same way soccer or hockey does :( We can kind of compare tennis to golf. The only difference now is that golf has Tiger Woods and he has popularised golf... now because of him, entire golf tournaments are being broadcast on national tv where as tennis, without somebody like that, is still getting only tape delayed coverage of finals, and that's only for 5 or 6 tournaments a year. The ATP needs a Tiger Woods of sorts, a dominating, well publicised player that is known outside the sport!

tennischick
Jun 10th, 2002, 01:59 AM
are you actually conceding that Lleyton cannot do it despite his dominance? ack! the horror!! i promise i won't tell the folks in the ATP forum :eek: :eek:

i love coke. of course it's bad for me but those marketing ploys catch me everytime. as for pepsi -- i gave up on it ever since Wacko Jacko's hair caught on fire. or was that coke? :confused:

angele87
Jun 10th, 2002, 02:16 AM
:p at tennischick... no I don't think Lleyton can do it for three reasons... and this is totally unbiased since I am a huge Lleyton fan:

1) Even me, a huge fan, can admit that he's not the most likeable guy on tour... unforetunately he's far too contreversial to be liked by just the casual fan... IMO he has the people that are huge fans (like me) and then people that don't like him :( I think it's unforetunate that so many people hate him because he's really not as horrible as he'd made out to be

2) He's not a great clay courter and he's not totally dominant on hard courts... I think he'd need one of the two. It's true that he is dominating on hardcourt and the best on hardcourts at the moment but when he plays the U.S Open, can anybody say he's close to guaranteed to win it, the way Pete was with Wimbledon a few years back?

3) He's too shy, too personal. He doesn't do many interviews and doesn't seem to be very big on endorsements or commercials which doesn't make his accesible to as many people as it could :(

tennischick
Jun 10th, 2002, 02:55 AM
of course you're mostly right about Lleyton. i don't know whether he is as horrible as "he'd made out to be". in his defence (yes!), i have a theory that his parents cling too flipping much and that's why he's often so cranky -- would you want your parents hanging onto you the way his does to him? Capriati deservedly gets trounced for having Stefano in her space all the time. but i don't see a whole lot of criticism for Lleyton who actually does the same thing! in any event his parents' continued presence does not explain the James Blake incident. or the flowers. (ugh!) actually i think his own actions have indicted him pretty badly bec they all happened on a public stage in front of thousands (live and on TV). he's not the best sell IMO. and it's too bad bec even his romance with sweet Kim is the kind of stuff that PR folks dream of.

which means that the ATP has no choice but to start an "Old Balls" campaign and call Agassi back out for PR duty...:o :o i wonder if they could persuade Steffi and Jaden to sign up? :eek:

angele87
Jun 10th, 2002, 03:04 AM
I say Lleyton isn't as bad as he's made out to be because some people on this board are quick to accuse him of being some kind of criminal or something which he's note. The U.S Open incident was really inappropriate, stupid and ignorant and I fear that it's something that will be held against him for the rest of his career :( you're right though, he's not the best sell :sad: However I think if his relationship with Kim was a bit more publicised, Lleyton would become a better sell because you can't say he's some kind of evil guy when he's being all cute and sweet with Kimmie :angel: :hearts:

Well I don't Agassi can make the ATP big again simply because he's past his prime now... the ATP need somebody new, somebody exciting and (although I hate so say this too) Andy Roddick isn't going to be it. I think the person that's going to be make the ATP popular is somebody that we haven't even heard of yet... some unkwown junior who's going to come up and win Wimbledon or something...

tennischick
Jun 10th, 2002, 03:09 AM
Richard Gasquet? Jmes Blake?

i agree about Lleyton and Kim. that's what i was trying to say. that could off-set a whole bunch of bad publicity.

i'm off to bed. nice chatting with ya! :wavey:

tommyk75
Jun 10th, 2002, 01:12 PM
There IS a lot more depth on the ATP these days, AND there are more one-surface specialists. The two are related. Like Pete Sampras gets slammed for being a terrible clay-courter. I mean, he did get to the semis at the French, he won the Italian Open over Becker, and he beat Agassi at Houston this year. The problem, like Pete said himself, is "When Rod Laver won the Grand Slam, he only had to worry about four or five guys, but when I play the French Open, I have to worry about a 100 Spaniards and South Americans!"

This over-depth is not good for the ATP, at least not in the U.S. Tennis is a star-driven sport, and there just aren't superstars among the men these days (except for Agassi, and the time on his meter is clicking away). Now, it feels like one player gets on a hot streak, wins a big tournament, gets injured, and never really reaches that same level again (Rios, Moya, Phillipousis, Norman, the list goes on and on). Do you remember when Becker, Lendl, Edberg, and John McEnroe were at the very top? The rivalries between them were so exciting, and the fans had favorites they cheered for. Nowadays, I don't really care who wins on the men's side, and I don't think I'm alone.

It really is a shame, because the level of tennis is amazing on the ATP. In fact, from a strictly technical point of view, I think men's tennis is far superior to women's tennis (much better winner-to-unforced error ratio and more all-court games). But like I said, tennis is a star-driven sport, so I'm a much bigger fan of the WTA, where Venus, Serena, Anna, Lindsay, Martina, and company aren't just tennis players. They're "divas."

~ The Leopard ~
Jun 10th, 2002, 01:31 PM
Edit: Original content deleted by joui who has decided that frenchvee is a nice person. :)

tennischick
Jun 10th, 2002, 01:46 PM
very thoughtful post tommyk. i guess to some extent all sports have become "personality-driven". there are folks who never gave a crap about golf until Tiger started playing. and if read one more article about Michelle Kwan before the Olympics i swear i was going to puke. but in the end, most sports are larger than the personalities driving them. basketball will survive Michael Jordan's many retirements. ATP tennis will survive as well. in addition to marketing the new emerging young guns, i wish the ATP could find ways to market the excellent quality of tennnis available there for viewing. i agree with you that the quality of tennis is generally superior on the ATP tour. surely there's a way to sell that along with the latest flavor-of-the-month (Roddick, Blake, Gasquet, whomever).

the problem with relying exclusively on your "stars" is that, when put under the spotlight, they had better deliver. let'sface it, Pete and Andre always did. to some extent Andre still does against any rival but, as you say, his days are numbered. but if for instance, the Williams-Williams finals (and most projections agree that there will be many over the next few years), continue to disappoint, that will not exactly be great for the WTA would it? thank goodness Capriati is still around to add some excitement and a much more interesting source of rivalry for many fans of the sport.



Originally posted by tommyk75
There IS a lot more depth on the ATP these days, AND there are more one-surface specialists. The two are related. Like Pete Sampras gets slammed for being a terrible clay-courter. I mean, he did get to the semis at the French, he won the Italian Open over Becker, and he beat Agassi at Houston this year. The problem, like Pete said himself, is "When Rod Laver won the Grand Slam, he only had to worry about four or five guys, but when I play the French Open, I have to worry about a 100 Spaniards and South Americans!"

This over-depth is not good for the ATP, at least not in the U.S. Tennis is a star-driven sport, and there just aren't superstars among the men these days (except for Agassi, and the time on his meter is clicking away). Now, it feels like one player gets on a hot streak, wins a big tournament, gets injured, and never really reaches that same level again (Rios, Moya, Phillipousis, Norman, the list goes on and on). Do you remember when Becker, Lendl, Edberg, and John McEnroe were at the very top? The rivalries between them were so exciting, and the fans had favorites they cheered for. Nowadays, I don't really care who wins on the men's side, and I don't think I'm alone.

It really is a shame, because the level of tennis is amazing on the ATP. In fact, from a strictly technical point of view, I think men's tennis is far superior to women's tennis (much better winner-to-unforced error ratio and more all-court games). But like I said, tennis is a star-driven sport, so I'm a much bigger fan of the WTA, where Venus, Serena, Anna, Lindsay, Martina, and company aren't just tennis players. They're "divas."

frenchvee
Jun 10th, 2002, 02:56 PM
Sorry Jouissant, the last thing i need it to make ennemy on this
board, i changed my signature, i just found it funny the first time you
wrote it, i tought it expressed the way many people felt at the
williams.


Anyway sorry again,
Peace and love:) :) :) :)

Experimentee
Jun 10th, 2002, 03:15 PM
I think its not so much the depth that makes the atp have a declining fanbase but the fact that most of the top players dont put 100% effort all year round, like kafelnikov for example. Some days these players can be really good and some days they dont play to even half of their ability (we saw that with marat and JC this week). Its hard to be a fan of the player when its obvious they arent putting their full effort into every match. The top players on the wta play well more consistently all year round and are much less likely to disappoint and i think thats also a factor.

~ The Leopard ~
Jun 10th, 2002, 03:29 PM
Originally posted by frenchvee
Sorry Jouissant, the last thing i need it to make ennemy on this
board, i changed my signature, i just found it funny the first time you
wrote it, i tought it expressed the way many people felt at the
williams.


Anyway sorry again,
Peace and love:) :) :) :)

Okay, I'll edit my post accordingly. It's very big of you to respond like this. :bounce:

Crazy Canuck
Jun 11th, 2002, 01:03 AM
vivalaseles - thanks for pointing that out about Guga :) I was about to do the same thing.

I get sick of hearing that Guga is only good on clay - that is 100% false. He has beaten Agass, Rafter, Safin, and Pete, all on faster courts - wether hard courts or indoors.

He has won the masters cup indoors, and a masters series on hard. Reached the US Open quarters twice, and one at Wimbledon.

Won several titles not on clay..

Crazy Canuck
Jun 11th, 2002, 01:03 AM
Why are people so snappy about players who shine on clay, and aren't the best on hard courts, but not the other way around?

Why the double standard?

Monique
Jun 11th, 2002, 02:57 AM
by Experimentee:I think its not so much the depth that makes the atp have a declining fanbase but the fact that most of the top players dont put 100% effort all year round, like kafelnikov for example. Some days these players can be really good and some days they dont play to even half of their ability (we saw that with marat and JC this week). Its hard to be a fan of the player when its obvious they arent putting their full effort into every match. The top players on the wta play well more consistently all year round and are much less likely to disappoint and i think thats also a factor.


Experimentee, great part of the reason for this problem is exactly the higher depth in the men's tennis...While the WTA top players have the privilege of sometimes playing awful tennis during their first rounds and still managing to crush their unseeded opponents, the men are subject to early elimination since day one in case they do not bring up their best...Of course some players are notorious for their less than stellar will and performance...even Safin was fined about three years ago for what the ATP perceived as "tanking' a match during the Australian Open...but also don't forget that the fitness requirements on the ATP Tour are far above the ones most WTA players possess...

The ATP is desperately trying to find the dominant player they want to promote and overemphasize, the one they believe will bring back the new fan base the WTA already possess, but they are slowly realizing such dominant player does not exist as of today... Andy Roddick, Roger Federer and even Marat Safin are potential prospects but the consistent results are not there yet, and might not ever be...It's a pity that the best and most umpredictable and exciting tennis ever played might lead to the men's fan debacle...

~ The Leopard ~
Jun 11th, 2002, 03:33 AM
This is an interesting thread in bringing home to me that what I like about the ATP tour may be a minus to some extent commercially. Yes, I suppose the lack of one or two overwhelming superstar to be the face of men's tennis may have a downside.

I have to say, though, that I like it this way. It's so much more interesting knowing that there's great talent stacked way back into the rankings list and that many players are potential winners of major tournaments.

I'd much prefer the WTA if the same applied. I think the WTA tour is developing depth but we still have clear layers of talent, with a tiny number of dominant players, a not much larger number of players who can give them some serious competition on a good day, etc.

The WTA personalities may be more interesting (or perhaps we're just more exposed to a small number of them), which is partly why I like the women's game so much. But the tournaments themselves are far less fascinating than the ATP tournaments, which is why I like the men's game so much.

tennischick
Jun 11th, 2002, 03:49 AM
thank you jouissant! now if only the ATP can figure out a way to make its depth and talent more marketable! this is what i have been trying to capture all along. as a serious tennis player and fan, i am genuinely much more interested in ATP tennis for the exact reasons you define. and the WTA needs only to look to the ATP to see its future as well.

Lisbeth
Jun 11th, 2002, 04:26 AM
agree with everyone, especially angele87, but just wanted to mention that Lleyton has a huge profile here in Aus - he even advertises office furniture, amongst other things - go figure!! But I don't think he is ever going to dominate Venus-style or even Anna-style :)