Argentina to lose one of its two ATP 250; Chile is threatened

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BUENOS AIRES – The ATP is not considering the Cordoba Open in its 2025 calendar, and although the event’s organization currently has no plan B in mind, the reality is that they will have to settle for being a Challenger 125 from 2025 onwards. Argentina will lose one of its two ATP 250 events, as confirmed to CLAY by sources in the tour.

The ATP Board approved the request of Octagon (the company that owns the date used by Cordoba until this year) to relocate to Mallorca in June during the run-up to Wimbledon. The tournament has been held since 2021 thanks to a type of short-term license that was created due to the pandemic, which expires after the 2024 edition. Thus, the Mallorca 250 event would continue to stand with the license that the Argentines will no longer have.

“My last tournament for sure is 2024. I hope to continue in 2025, but I don’t have a certainty yet,” Toni Nadal tells CLAY. The Spaniard is the director of the grass-court event that takes place in the Mallorca Country Club.

The move means a hard blow for the South American swing. It had already suffered one in November, when Buenos Aires was denied the promotion to the 500 category. The upgrade was given to Dallas, Doha (both direct competitors of the Latin American swing) and Munich.

“Doha was an obvious strike. I was surprised by Dallas, because I have never seen a successful indoor tournament in the United States and they are not going to play it outdoors, because at this time of year Dallas is unplayable outside because of the cold,” Raúl Zurutuza, director of the Acapulco ATP 500 event between 1997 and 2000, and 2004 and 2022, told CLAY.

“Attendance standards start to weigh over time. That’s why the ATP Board doesn’t look favorably on a tour tournament with half-empty stands, as is the case in Cordoba at times. This is bad news for Latin America, from waiting to have another 500, to the possibility of losing a 250”, adds the Mexican: “With this new rule that there will only be 16, the 500 will be a very solid group. The 500 will become even more important on the tour”.

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ATP 500
El ATP 250 de Santiago de Chile // CHILE OPEN

To understand: each upgrade was actually a merger of two 250 tournaments. Dallas will merge with Atlanta, which will disappear. Same situation with Lyon and Munich. Newport, with Doha. In addition, every company that owns an ATP 500 must also own a 250.

The theory of one of the current top managers of the South American tournaments is that “the ATP does not want to hand out more than 1000 points per week”. Under that theory, the Chile Open is also threatened. “Not for 2025, but for the future,” he says. Today, the Chilean tournament has the worst schedule on the tour as it shares a week with two 500s, which are Acapulco and Dubai.

“I think the Latin American tour is kind of left over, isn’t it? It doesn’t find owners. Next year will be complicated if players like Carlos Alcaraz don’t return,” says Zurutuza.

What are the chances of the world number two playing in South America in 2025? Obviously the possibilities diminish when considering that the Spaniard’s contract with the Rio Open runs out in 2024.

“At some point we will do the hard court tour for sure,” Juan Carlos Ferrero tells CLAY. “Yes it is true that at some point I would like Carlos to play in the fast courts, because I think he can do very well in those tournaments, they are always very competitive events and at the moment you don’t change the surface after Australia and before Indian Wells for only two tournaments. It’s going from hard courts to clay, then back to hard and back to clay in Europe. We’ll think about it later,” says the former world number one and current coach of Alcaraz.

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Martín Jaite, director of the Argentina Open was clear in an interview with CLAY: “You can’t complain because this is a business, a business for everyone. And the ATP also has its pressures, especially from the players, who want better prizes. And the tournaments want to win more. The world is going that way, it’s not easy to put money aside”.

ATP Buenos Aires
Guillermo Vilas Center Court in Buenos Aires. The tournament applied to be ATP 500, but got rejected.

Zurutuza recalls when several years ago there was a proposal to move the Latin American tour to the end of November, but the players were opposed because for them it is very important those months of rest. “And the off season is really a fallacy, it doesn’t exist,” says the Mexican. “Either they play exhibitions, or they continue training, or the Challenger circuit improves its quality a lot because of the number of players who are looking for points. So I think we should find those three ideal weeks for Buenos Aires, Rio and Santiago, because they are important tournaments. They could be very good at the end of November and I think that many good players would go, although I don’t think something like that is going to happen”, he adds.

At the end of April, during the Madrid Masters 1000, the meeting of the ATP Board will take place where the changes for 2025 will be made official.

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