Bouchard likely to change representation

It appears likely that WTA sensationEugenie Bouchard will switch management agencies by the end of the month.

Bouchard’s current representation, Lagardère Unlimited, had been unwilling as of last week to match an offer from IMG that includes commissions below 10 percent and hiring her mother to work on her team, sources said. Factoring into Lagardère’s decision not to counter bid, the sources said, is that if she were to renew with sponsor Nike — that deal expires at the end of the year — those commissions could flow to Lagardère at the 15 percent to 20 percent rate called for in the agency’s current contract, but only if the company declined to match.

Commissions on renewals typically flow to the company that was involved in the original signing.

Lagardère could make less money if it keeps Bouchard.

In other words, if Lagardère were to match IMG and then renew for Bouchard with Nike, it could end up making less money on the deal (with the lower commission structure) than it could by letting her go (but having the connection to the original Nike contract and the higher commission structure that came with that deal).

There are other factors at work, as well, including the different economic structures of IMG and Lagardère. IMG has a vibrant consulting and events business that can also make money off of Bouchard, so it is able to offer lower commissions. Lagardère’s tennis unit, by contrast, is far more dependent on athlete commissions, which are based on a percentage of endorsements, exhibition fees and, in some cases, prize money. Sources said Lagardère is concerned about what kind of message changing with Bouchard could send to its star clients like Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki, who are paying the higher rate.

Both Lagardère and IMG declined to comment.

If Bouchard does switch to IMG, it is believed that Jill Smoller would represent her. Smoller represents Serena Williams, and the move would mark the first major integration of IMG and William Morris Endeavor on the tennis front since the IMG sale to the Hollywood talent agency closed earlier this year. Smoller was with WME before the acquisition.

Wimbledon would like to host more celebs like the Beckhams.

BRINGING A-LIST TO ALL ENGLAND: Speaking of WME-IMG, the firm may be bringing some of its A-list talent to Wimbledon. Co-CEO Ari Emanuel met with executives from the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in New York last week, and one agenda item was more glitz.Mick Desmond, the club’s commercial director, who also was at the meeting, said the tournament could benefit from more celebrity sightings in the stands.

The U.S. Open has a staff that seeks out celebrities, but Wimbledon has not done the same. IMG has been the longtime marketing and licensing agent for the All England Club, and the biggest days in social media for the tournament this year were when David Beckham and later former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar attended the tournament.

Bouchard wouldn’t be IMG’s only new player-rep deal should it happen. Sources said the agency has signed to jointly represent Australian player Nick Kyrgios, who upset Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon this summer. Kyrgios is represented by Global Tennis Connections, a firm run by John Morris, a tennis coach who also has gotten into the agent business. Morris has no other client the stature of Kyrgios, whom he has under contract for another two years.

Morris declined to comment, as did IMG.

Peng Shuai made her first Grand Slam semi after 36 tries.

GOOD TIME FOR A DEAL: Peng Shuaichose a fine time to make her first Grand Slam semifinal after 36 previous tries. The Chinese player, who was into the final four of the women’s draw at press time, has her apparel deal with Li Ning expire at the end of the year. That deal was negotiated by Zou Marketing, the Chinese sports marketing firm run by former Nike executive Terry Rhoads.

Peng also uses her coach, Alan Ma, to handle deals, so it’s unclear who would represent Peng in any coming talks. But Rhoads, via email, said, “We’ll talk to Peng when she [returns] to China. Everything is in play with her.”


Citizen extends US Open partnership




Watch maker Citizen Watch Company of America has extended a long-standing partnership with the US Open tennis grand slam.

The deal – agreed with the US Tennis Association (USTA), which operates the event – will begin in 2015 and run for at least four years, until the 2018 edition of the tournament.

Under the new agreement, Citizen will benefit from expanded brand visibility throughout the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center grounds and an enhanced presence on US Open digital platforms, while continuing to serve as the tournament’s exclusive timekeeper.

Citizen will also become the official timekeeper of the Emirates Airline US Open Series and will have a presence at all of the series’ tournaments in the US.

“Citizen has been a valued partner of the US Open since 1993 and we are delighted that they will be on board through this next transformation of the National Tennis Center,” USTA chief revenue officer Lew Sherr said. “We are also excited to expand Citizen’s integration with other USTA platforms and initiatives such as the Emirates Airline US Open Series and the new Home of American Tennis in Orlando.”

James Murphy Turns U.S. Open Matches Into Music




August 29, 2014 11:48 amAugust 29, 2014 2:37 pm 1 Comment


Nicole Gibbs at the U.S. Open on Thursday. James Murphy’s project created a soundtrack based on her second-round match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. (Ms. Gibbs won the match in three sets.)Credit Timothy A. Clary/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

James Murphy has kept fairly busy since he disbanded LCD Soundsystem in 2011, with projects that have included writing film music, producing an album for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and working with Arcade Fire. Over the next few weeks, he plans to add 400 hours of new music to his catalog.

Mr. Murphy is collaborating with Patrick Gunderson, a developer at IBM, on “U.S. Open Sessions,” a project that will transform each game of the tennis tournament into a live-streamed electronic score, which Mr. Murphy will then edit, possibly for an album.


James MurphyCredit Chad Batka for The New York Times

The tournament began on Aug. 25 and runs through Sept. 8, and the pieces Mr. Murphy has completed so far are posted on a web page for the sessions. Mr. Murphy is making the music with a program that Mr. Gunderson developed that turns the game’s action, along with weather data and crowd responses, into algorithms. Mr. Murphy will turn the algorithms into music using a synthesizer-like interface that Mr. Gunderson created for him, which allows him to assign musical values – timbres, rhythms, durations, musical figures and hooks – to each one.

The rest of the process is automated; the moves the tennis players make lead to the sounds Mr. Murphy has programmed.

“We’re going to generate almost 400 hours’ worth of music,” Mr. Murphy said in one of several video clips that IBM has posted to YouTube to explain the project. “I mean, I’m not going to sit there and play 400 hours of music. We’re setting up a machine to do that.”

The music, so far, is spacey and Minimalist, in the sense that figures and rhythms are, at least in some cases, repeated until something in the game creates a change. But the live pieces may only be a part of Mr. Murphy’s process. He told Self-Titled magazine that he will create 14 remixes using the material and will make them available free on iTunes, Soundcloud and Spotify.

The first phase of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center’s $500 million renovation is complete. Design firm Rossetti is overseeing the project and Hunt Construction Group is managing the construction. Below is the timeline for the project


■ Three new practice courts and three competition courts, with bleacher seating for 1,300 fans sandwiched between

New competition and practice courts opening this year feature improved seating for spectators.
Photo by: USTA

them, are ready for this year’s U.S. Open. It is the first time the practice courts have had a significant amount of seating. Fans can switch easily between practice and competition, an area the U.S. Tennis Association expects to quickly become a hot spot on the grounds. New video boards are also up atop Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Ongoing work provides the first visible evidence of the long-awaited roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium. Six out of eight cement cappings (looking like enormous flower pots with no bottom) that will circle the stadium are in place.
The pillars to hold up the roof will slide into the caps. One cement capping has taken out the outdoor seating area for Mojitos, an exclusive restaurant on the grounds. Underneath the caps, a labyrinth of wire and steel cables will be filled with cement to hold the pillars in place.

For lovers of the current National Tennis Center, lap up this year’s tournament; next annum’s event will look very different.


Crews are building the bases that will support the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Photo by: USTA

Pillars will ring Arthur Ashe Stadium, with supporting structures in place, but no roof yet. However, to accommodate the growing covering, the current lights atop the stadium will come down, and temporary lights will be built on a catwalk that will ring the upper tier of the venue.

Construction on a new 8,000-seat Grandstand court (the No. 3 court) will be underway in the southwestern corner of the grounds, the opposite of the court’s current northeastern location.

After the 2015 event, the south perimeter will be extended slightly into the adjacent park. The courts that sit up against the south side will move farther south then. This will allow the walkway on the northern edge of these courts to be expanded from 7 to 40 feet, creating a new thoroughfare for fans.


Two decades after Arthur Ashe Stadium opened, it will have a roof, which of course likely means rain will stop

The new Grandstand court will be ready in time for the 2016 event and will have seating for 8,000 spectators.
Photo by: Rosetti / USTA

for several years. The cost for the roof is estimated to top $100 million.

The new Grandstand court will be completed and will be in use. The old Grandstand court will remain standing but will not be in use.

The new walkway connecting Court 17 to the Grandstand court will be finished. The 40-foot-wide walkway is designed to open up the grounds and reduce crowding.

Between the 2016 and 2017 events

Two fan favorites will be torn down: Louis Armstrong Stadium and the connected Grandstand court. Louis Armstrong Stadium, built in 1964, was the main court before Arthur Ashe Stadium and remains popular for the seats’ proximity to the players.


The old Grandstand court will be gone, as will be the old Louis Armstrong Stadium. The new Louis Armstrong Stadium will not yet be complete. The lower bowl and court will be finished, and temporary seating also will be available. The exact number of seats, though, is still not determined.


The entire project will be complete. The new 15,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium will open for business. It will not have a roof (despite circulated renderings showing a roof on the new stadium), though the USTA is describing it as roof ready. That means if the group later chooses to install a roof, the cost and task will be far less onerous than it was to build the one over Arthur Ashe Stadium.

WTA eyeing launch of ‘World Cup’ team tournament


27 AUGUST 2014

Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chairman and chief executive Stacey Allaster has said the organisation is exploring the introduction of a World Cup-style team tournament that could be launched as soon as 2017.

Allaster told the New York Times newspaper that the competition would be a week-long tournament featuring eight teams, staged annually in a single location. A wild-card team would be added at the discretion of the host nation while the other seven nations would be determined by the year-end singles rankings of their No.1 players.

Allaster said the idea for the new event, while still in the early stages, came out of extensive market research in the past year. “What the marketplace has told us – interested host cities, broadcasters and sponsors – is that if we were to do this they’d want it to be official,” Allaster added. “They’d want it be the best of the best and regular competitive tennis. So maybe we would have no-ad scoring and some all-star type elements, but what came away clear for us is that they wanted bona fide best-of-the-best competition if they were to invest millions of dollars.”

Any new tournament launched by the WTA would appear to be in direct competition with the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) Fed Cup. However, Allaster believes the two events can live in harmony. “I don’t think this will impact them,” she said. “We can do Fed Cup and this is possibly a new event we add.”

The ITF is currently conducting a strategic review of the Fed Cup and men’s counterpart the Davis Cup, with findings due at the end of the year. ITF executive director of professional tennis Kris Dent said the federation is unaware of the WTA’s proposal but would be broadly supportive of any event which would aid the growth of the sport.

Dent added: “Do I think this event will replicate and put Fed Cup out of business? No, I see it as complementary.”

Jordan Discusses Shoe Collaboration With Federer, Harking Back To Classic Air Jordan

Jordan said Federer had a lot of input into the making of the new shoe

Roger Federer and Michael Jordan “are now business partners,” as Federer during his first-round U.S. Open match against Marinko Matosevic last night debuted the Air Jordan Hybrid R.F. shoe, according to ESPN’s Chris Fowler. Jordan, who attended his first tennis match last night, said of Federer, “He’s done a lot of input in it. One of my shoes was his favorite, which was the (Air Jordan III). I told Roger when they first came up with the idea, I said, ‘Look, as long as you have input, you control it. I know nothing about tennis and most importantly it has to be functional.’ … He took it to heart and he actually got involved in it. I was very surprised, the shoe looks very nice.” Jordan sat in Federer’s box, and ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez asked him, “You know that Roger, when he goes to hit his overhead, gets a little hang time, a la Michael Jordan. Is this shoe going to help him a little extra?” Jordan replied, “I don’t know about that, but he is a good athlete.” He added, “I’ve seen a lot of tennis on TV, but you never really understand how smooth, how relaxed and how fundamentally sound that he can make this game look. He looks good in the shoe without a doubt, but he makes the shoes look a lot better.” Federer following the match said, “Michael was my hero of all sports, so for having him here is unbelievably special and the collaboration is unique, so I love it” (“U.S. Open,” ESPN, 8/26). GQ’s Jake Woolf noted the latest colorway of Federer’s Tour Vapor 9 “features Nike’s iconic elephant print, which was first seen” on the Air Jordan III in ’88 (, 8/25).

STAR STRUCK: In N.Y., Zach Schonbrun writes Federer’s opening-round opponent Marinko Matosevic at one point last night was “waving and pointing” at Jordan, and “might have momentarily forgotten that he was still in a match, still on center court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.” Matosevic, pointing toward Jordan during the match, yelled, “I want to be like Mike!” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/27).

WANNA BE LIKE ROGER? FORBES’ Kurt Badenhausen noted worldwide tennis sponsorship spending is expected to hit $739M in ’14, and “no player secures a bigger piece of the pie” than Federer. His “loaded endorsement portfolio includes 10 brands,” including Nike, Wilson, Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz, Gillette and Moet & Chandon. They “collectively pay him” more than $40M annually (, 8/25)