Former World No.1 Marat Safin and retired star Mikhail Youzhny have hit out at the ATP and WTA merger idea, put in the spotlight from Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal last week, after claiming the women’s game does not have the star power.
Safin and Youzhny were talking on an Instagram Live chat and inevitably discussed the debate around whether the ATP and WTA merger should come to fruition.
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Federer and Nadal caused a stir when they said they used their time in isolation from the coronavirus pandemic to discuss the merger of the ATP and the women's body.
But the idea didn’t sit well with everyone, including Aussie Nick Kyrgios, and others who considered the pair were taking the spotlight off advocates such as Billie Jean King who has been pushing for this merger for decades.
However, retired Russians Safin and Youzhny appeared to criticise the women’s game and shoot down the ‘merger’ idea during their chat.
Safin suggested the idea worked as a whole, but only because women’s tennis doesn’t stand up and sell itself if it wasn’t for past and current stars such as Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, according to a translation from Essentially Sport.
Youzhny, the current coach of rising men’s star Denis Shapovalov, appeared to go one step further in his criticism.
He appeared to troll the top ranked women - which includes stars as Aussie World No.1 Ash Barty, Simona Halep, Sofia Kenin and Serena Williams - claiming he couldn’t name the majority of the World’s Top 10.
“I work in tennis and I can’t name WTA’s Top 10. I probably know those players but I couldn’t tell if they are ranked Top 10 or not,” he said, according to the publication.
Fans on social media were shocked at the comments and slammed the pair for their view on the women’s game.
that’s a damning indictment of youzhny not of the wta https://t.co/sSZd79OsjV— liam, species unknown 🐁 (@liamseoirse) April 26, 2020
🙄🙄🙄🙄 I suggest Youzhny climb out from that rock he's been living under! 🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄— Sampada Moghe Pandey (@SampadaMoghe) April 26, 2020
I mean Youzhny is coaching Shapovalov, right? He has no excuse.— Shego (@LadyBellatrix) April 26, 2020
What I find more upsetting however are the comments I'm reading (not sure how true or accurate they are) that Safin & Youzhny think the WTA will fail once Serena retires. Come on guys.— Thomas Leach (@_JustTennis_) April 26, 2020
People are too libido-hazed to cancel Safin. Or nostalgic. https://t.co/P6f29Wco6h— Benhanen 🎾🐲 (@CalebPereira23) April 26, 2020
Federer raises ‘merger’ idea
Federer has sparked a frenzy in the tennis world after calling for the men’s ATP and women’s WTA tours to be unified.
WTA founder King joined Federer and Nadal on Wednesday in suggesting “now is the time” to merge the men's ATP and women's body into one umbrella organisation to oversee the two professional tennis tours.
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“Just wondering ... am I the only one thinking that now is the time for men’s and women’s tennis to be united and come together as one?” Federer said.
“I am not talking about merging competition on the court, but merging the 2 governing bodies (ATP and WTA) that oversee the men’s and women’s professional tours.”
Federer’s initial tweet garnered 1200 comments and was liked 40,000 times as of Thursday morning.