Rolex Paris Masters – “We do not rule out relocating the tournament”: Is Bercy’s status threatened?

Cédric Pioline had reason to smile. For his first edition of the Rolex Paris Masters as sole tournament director (he co-managed the event from 2003 to 2009), popular success was undeniable. With 164,000 tickets sold, a record (the previous one was 152,000 in 2019), or close to 99% occupancy, the last Masters 1000 of the year was almost full every day. But to lead well is to foresee. For this reason, Pioline did not hesitate to reveal this Sunday at a press conference the challenges that await him in the coming years.

The former double Grand Slam finalist was extremely attentive to the reform of the Masters 1000 announced by the ATP just before the summer. The project is clear: extend the duration of these tournaments to 12 days following the model of Indian Wells and Miami with men’s and women’s tournaments organized at the same time and tables of 96 players. Starting next year, Rome, Madrid and Shanghai will be ready to apply it, then in 2025, the Cincinnati and Canadian tournaments (alternating Montreal and Toronto) will join the movement.

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So much so that of the 9 Masters 1000, only the events staged on French soil, the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and the Rolex Paris Masters, will fall short. Therefore, the pressure is strong on Bercy’s organization to expand its traditional 56-man roster. “How to grow? How to stay competitive? These are the issues that are now going to come up. We have a comfortable time frame, but it’s also tomorrow: 24 months is extremely fast. No, we are not obliged to go to this format, finally the ATP does not impose it on us. But since all the other tournaments… It’s business as usual. When your neighbor paints his house, yours looks worseTweety said, smiling.

Could Bercy’s status as a Masters 1000 be questioned? Not officially. Protection is granted even for thirty years (until 2053), even if it is renewed every year. Even so, the tournament cannot be completely unhooked. In short, is it possible to meet the standards defined by the ATP? At the Accor Arena, this seems impossible for a simple reason: there is no space to build the 8 necessary courts. Currently there are only three.

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Insufficient infrastructure to adhere to the ATP reform

If the tournament wants to keep its historic site, where it has been played since 1986, a future 64-player roster would be more in the cards. For the rest, the change of place is no longer taboo. “In any case, we do not exclude it. Let’s go to study. The Federation, at the highest level, that is, the President and the Comex, will make its decision and we will apply it. It’s possible. I say this with extreme transparency, because the Accor Arena is aware that we are studying the issue.“, also indicated the director of the event.

That said, it is therefore not the preferred option for the organization at the moment. For the good and simple reason that there is no indoor stadium in France that meets the ATP criteria for hosting a tournament with 96 players (and possibly women). Added to this is a scheduling problem: it seems difficult to extend the duration of the event to more than 12 days in the Indian Wells model. In the current circumstances, that would mean invading the ATP 500 in Vienna and Basel or scrapping the week of thrashing between Bercy and the Masters, which would dissuade the best from showing up in Paris.

I hope that over the next year we will have a vision that we can gradually implement, either in advance, Tweety concluded. We don’t want to tell ourselves that it’s not possible, even if in the great evolution, we won’t have the infrastructures, we can’t invent them. The reality is also that it is a balance between the format you offer and the income you can generate. The more you increase your number of days, the more it costs you and the more you have to have income that increases. So you have to find a balance..”

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