The ATP said that its Exec Chair & President BRAD DREWETT, who announced in January he suffered from ALS, has died, according to Daniel Kaplan of SPORTSBUSINESS DAILY. "Sadly, the news is true,” an ATP spokesperson said, confirming a post RAFAEL NADAL had put on his Facebook page Friday morning. The 54-year-old Drewett, a former player and longtime administrator, became a compromise candidate to take the reins of the ATP in Jan. '12. He immediately embarked on a goal of dramatically increasing the percentage of pay players got from the four Grand Slam tournaments, which paid levels far below that of other team sports. He lived long enough to see the fruits of that success, with all four now committed to dramatic increases. The ATP is in the midst of replacing him, with two internal candidates -- LAURENT DELANNEY and MARK YOUNG -- the only candidates at this time. Drewett was instrumental in spearheading the ATP’s efforts in Asia, and in running the successful season-ending championships in London. Following Drewett's ALS revelation, he kept busy with the ATP, even spending two weeks at the Sony Open in March (SPORTSBUSINESS DAILY, 5/3).
LASTING LEGACY: In Melbourne, Leo Schlink reported primarily based in Sydney as chief of the ATP World Tour's Intäl Group, Drewett "almost single-handedly unleashed the beast that is Chinese tennis." Although his efforts "were channelled into men's tennis, Drewett's deft negotiation with Chinese government officials effectively helped trigger an explosion of interest in tennis among Chinese women." Apart from blazing a trail into China, which now has several world-class men's and women's events, Drewett "expertly popularised the Barclays World Tour Finals." He was tournament director of the season-ending championships in several venues, including Shanghai and also in London, where the event "continues to be a sell-out phenomenon" (HERALD SUN, 5/4).
PAYING RESPECTS: The BBC reported many of the world's top tennis players "paid their respects" to Drewett with a minute's silence at the Madrid Open. NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SERENA WILLIAMS and ANDY MURRAY "were among those to wear ribboned badges and gather in the Manolo Santana stadium for Drewett" (BBC, 5/5). The AFP reported Nadal and American MARDY FISH "were among the first to pay tribute to the Australian." Nadal said on his Facebook page, "A very said day for the world of sports and tennis in particular. Our president Brad has passed away. Rest in peace." WTA CEO STACEY ALLASTER "described Drewett as a great administrator." Allaster said, "Brad's contributions as a player and visionary leader make him one of the greatest in making tennis the popular, worldwide sport it is today." Int'l Tennis Federation President FRANCESCO RICCI BITTI also praised the Australian. He said, "His knowledge, experience and enthusiasm will be a great loss to the whole sport. We send our deepest sympathies to Brad's family and to everyone at the ATP during this very sad time" (AFP, 5/4). Former world No. 1 CARLOS MOYA said, "Probably the best ATP president, the closest to the players and the one who has achieved the most for the players in the past 30 years" (REUTERS, 5/3). ROGER FEDERER said, "He was a great player, a tremendous ATP CEO and most importantly an amazing friend to all of us." Ukrainian player SERGIY STAKHOVSKY tweeted, "The man who changed our sport,who became the 1st. president to unite players,great person and fantastic leader has died today...RIP." Retired player JUSTIN GIMELSTOPB tweeted: "Brad Drewett was a great leader and the ultimate @ATPWorldTour contributor, devoted to his family, friends, and the sport he loved." The Championship CEO RICHARD LEWIS said, "I knew Brad from my very early days as a player on the ATP Tour and I always respected the way he conducted himself both on and off court" (ATP).