The ATP has announced groundbreaking alterations to the feeder Challenger Tour including an increase to both the number of events and the prize money.
As part of efforts to enhance the efficiency of the game, the ATP unveiled an optimised tournament calendar that comes into effect from January 2023.
According to the men’s professional tour, the reforms follow an in-depth review and strategy development conducted by the organisation’s newly appointed senior Challenger Tour team over the past eight months.
“The Challenger Tour is the launchpad of men’s professional tennis,” ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said.
“Today’s announcement is a critical step forward for the entire ecosystem. The new plan increases earnings potential for players and improves the balance of tournament categories, surfaces and regions. It also puts a renewed focus on raising tournament standards. This is also just the beginning. Our team is committed to delivering further enhancements in the coming months and years.”
The restructure starts with a simplification of the category system.
The ATP will phase out the Challenger 90 and 110 categories, reducing the number of categories from six to four.
From 2023 the new ATP Challenger categories will be 50, 75, 100, 125.
In addition, ATP will also introduce three new premium Challenger 175 events.
The 175 events will fall during the second week of ATP Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells, Rome and Madrid, and will carry a prize money purse of $220,000.
In total the prize money on the Challenger Tour will rise from $13.2 million in 2022 to a new record sum of $21.1 million in 2023.
The enhanced Challenger Tour prize money includes notable increases at Challenger 100 tournaments ($106,240 to $130,000) and Challenger 75 tournaments ($53,120 to $80,000).
In addition, round-by-round prize money distributions are set to improve earnings in the earlier rounds of events.
“The health of the ATP Challenger Tour is critical for the future of our sport, and our in-depth review revealed significant opportunities to strengthen this pathway,” Richard Glover, the Vice President of the ATP Challenger Tour, said.
“Whilst we are taking a long-term approach to growing the Challenger Tour, these changes will provide an immediate boost from 2023 onwards. We look forward to executing these reforms next season and building on this progress in the near future. There is more to come, so watch this space.”
Together, the ATP hopes that these enhancements will help create a more sustainable player pathway for more players competing on the Challenger Tour.
The 2023 Challenger Tour is set to deliver a record 195 events, up from 183 in 2022, creating more opportunities for players on the fringes of the ATP Tour proper.
These slated improvements to the calendar will also see it more closely align with the ATP’s main Tour and deliver a better balance of tournaments in terms of both surface types and regions.
The projected 170 per cent increase in the number of Challenger 100 and 125 events is intended to enhance player flow and mobility, giving them more opportunities to ascend the ATP Rankings and earn additional opportunities.
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