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Nike executive Calvelli ‘in line’ to become CEO of ATP

Massimo Calvelli, senior sports marketing director at Nike, is set to take over the chief executive role at the Association of Tennis Professionals, according to reports.

Calvelli, who has overseen Nike’s tennis marketing department since 2014, is expected to join his friend Andrea Gaudenzi at the ATP. Gaudenzi was appointed as chairman last month as it was confirmed that Chris Kermode – who presently combines the chief executive and chairman roles – would leave his position at the end of the year. Kermode’s departure was initially announced in March, but speculation grew that he would remain in place following the resignation in May of Justin Gimelstob, the player representative who was thought to have led the calls for Kermode’s departure.

At the time of Gaudenzi’s appointment, the ATP confirmed to SportBusiness its intention to appoint a chief executive as well as a chairman, as it looks to restructure its senior leadership following the player rebellion – led by ATP player council chair Novak Djokovic – which ultimately rendered Kermode’s position untenable. 

As part of his role at the US sportswear giant, Calvelli has experience working closely with high-profile players, having negotiated deals with Nike-endorsed tennis stars such as Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. 

The 45-year-old Italian was himself a professional tennis player, breaking into the top 300 in the world in 1995. He served as global business director at tennis equipment brand Wilson before joining Nike.

As well appointing an Italian chairman and being heavily linked with an Italian chief executive, the Finals tournaments of both the ATP Tour and Next Gen series will be staged in Italy from 2021 onwards, in Turin and Milan respectively, as the sport’s centre of gravity appears to be shifting towards Europe.

Meanwhile, the ATP is reporting that the 2019 Tour broke attendance records for the series, with 4.82 million fans watching at events across the year. The season-ending Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena – the penultimate tournament before it departs for Turin – drew total crowds of 242,883.