Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships chief backs Roger Federer's merger plan

Salah Tahlak calls idea to united men's and women's tours a 'no brainer' that 'could be good for tennis'

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 01: Belinda Bencic and Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrate winning the mixed doubles match against Serena Williams and Frances Tiafoe of the United States during day four of the 2019 Hopman Cup at RAC Arena on January 01, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
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Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships tournament director Salah Tahlak has welcomed the idea of a merger between the men’s and women’s tennis tours, in light of Roger Federer’s tweets that reopened the subject on Wednesday.

Dubai hosts a WTA event and an ATP event in back-to-back weeks each February, attracting star-studded fields and sell-out crowds.

Tahlak, who serves on the ATP Tournament Council and has held a similar position on the WTA side in the past, shared his thoughts on what a unified tour would mean, and why he believes it’s a good idea.

"There could be a number of benefits in terms of coordinating the calendar – especially for combined and back-to-back events – equal prize money objectives, pooling of officials, and most importantly negotiating for a bigger slice with media companies for combined rights," Tahlak told The National.

“There would be issues in terms of deciding share of revenues and scheduling, but these issues could be ironed out and a compromise could be reached with tournament owners and promoters, if there was just one governing body.

“Since Dubai is a back-to-back event, and Dubai was one of the first events to offer equal prize money, as a tournament director I would welcome dealing with one governing body for both weeks. It’s a no-brainer. It makes sense and could be good for tennis overall.”

When squash merged its men’s and women’s tours at the end of 2014, all top-tier tournaments were required to have tournaments for both genders, and were given a maximum of three years to offer equal prize money.

Ziad Al-Turki, the chairman of the Professional Squash Association (PSA), explains how tournament promoters reacted to the change, and how the merge ultimately benefited everyone.

Dubai, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - FEBRUARY, 16 2019.

 Salah Tahlak, Tournament Director, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, at the official draw today.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

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“It depends on the promoter. When I took over, I wanted to change the whole image of the tour, I wanted to change the way things were presented and everything. Some people accepted it and some people resisted,” said the Saudi supremo.

“They were like, ‘We’ve been doing a tournament, I’ve been spending $100,000 [Dh367,000] on it and now you’re telling me I have to spent $400,000?’ But everything trickles down and eventually you have to ride this wave and then go with it and we ultimately succeeded.

“We have some men’s tournaments, and we didn’t push them to have women, now all of a sudden they realised, ‘We should have women, because it’s better for us and it makes the tournament more attractive’. Even though they’re not top-tier, so they’re not required to, but they want to.”

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