March 13, 2009

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- The new head of the ATP Tour wants to broaden the appeal of men's tennis, while acknowledging the weak global economy has impacted the sport.

"I know there is a thought that the sport has not necessarily commercialized its appeal to the extent that it could, and I'm hopeful we can do better in that regard," Adam Helfant said in a question-and-answer interview posted on the tour's Web site Friday. "That's a real opportunity for us, obviously tempered by the economic climate."

Helfant, a former Nike executive and lawyer for the NHL, was hired in January to run the men's pro tour.

Without going into specifics, Helfant said the tour is feeling reverberations from the financial crisis.

"Any discussion on challenges and opportunities has to start with the global economic situation, which has an impact on virtually everything. We are certainly not recession proof, and we're monitoring the effects on our tournaments in particular, and seeing how it is affecting fans' habits," he said. "We know it's had a big effect on hospitality and the sponsorship environment is very different."

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