TA defends Fed in ‘disturbing conflict of interest’ row
Australian Open officials have fended off accusations Roger Federer receives preferential scheduling at Melbourne Park, describing the Swiss as a "once-in-a-generation" athlete.
Responding to claims from French player Julien Benneteau that Federer's business links to Tennis Australia raised "disturbing" questions, Craig Tiley defended TA's stance - and the champion player.
Benneteau referenced the number - 12 - of matches Federer has been allocated on Rod Laver Arena during the past two Opens - which the Swiss has won.
Benneteau said Federer's ties to TA through the Laver Cup - an event created and run by his own management company - are concerning.
"When he (Federer) promotes the Laver Cup, there are a number of conflicts of interest that have become disturbing," Benneteau said.
"In the organisation of this event, there's Craig Tiley, the boss of the Australian Open, who deals with marketing and television rights.
"He is paid by Roger Federer's agent and, on the back of that, as luck would have it, Federer played 12 of his 14 (Open) matches at 7.30pm."
"He has been regularly voted Australia's favourite athlete. The fans demand his appearance in the big stadiums and our broadcasters naturally want his matches to air in prime time.
"I don't think there's a tournament director in the world who's not going to take those factors into account when setting the schedule. This is the case with all the big names in tennis, and in sport in general."
Tiley said TA was proud of the Laver Cup, which pits Europe and a rest of the world team into battle each September.
The event has several partners, including TA, US Tennis Association and Federer's management group Team8.
"Tennis Australia is justly proud of the success of the Laver Cup, in which we certainly have a share, along with the USTA and other partners," Tiley said.
"It's been one of the most successful new tennis events in recent times, showing the sport in a new light and attracting new fans. I'd say the success of the Laver Cup has been seen as somewhat of a 'disrupter' to the men's game.
"We run our events to the highest standards and reject as well as challenge any claims to the contrary.
"We also make no secret about working hard to provide the very best experience for all the players at the Australian Open.
"We've prided ourselves on really listening to the players and taking into account their needs and priorities, whether it's the way we operate our transport system, the food we serve, the relaxation and training areas we provide and of course, scheduling matches.
"There's no way we can please everyone all the time, and everyone knows we do everything we can."