Rome, November 6: The draw for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals prompted criticism and accusations of sexism after female models were used to determine which groups the players would compete in.
The first edition of the competition, co-organised by the Italian Olympic Committee and the Italian Tennis Federation, is set to be held in Milan, Italy this week, and involves promising players aged 21 or under.
Intended to showcase the best of the tour's emerging stars, the event features a slogan proclaiming "The Future is Now".
However, in what many observers considered to be a regressive decision, players were required to pair up on a catwalk with female models, some of whom then suggestively revealed a card displaying the group the player would be drawn into.
Judy Murray, the mother of British Davis Cup stars Andy and Jamie Murray and former captain of Britain's Fed Cup team, described footage of the bizarre ceremony as "awful", while Amelie Mauresmo branded it a "disgrace".
Awful. https://t.co/ECMf0tA7WC— judy murray (@JudyMurray) November 6, 2017
The ATP NextGen Milan draw ceremony made players select models to determine their groups. Stunningly uncomfortable, cringeworthy and trashy. pic.twitter.com/g63OfK5IOK— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) November 5, 2017
The Finals feature Karen Khachanov and Denis Shapovalov among a clutch of eight promising youngsters, some of whom appeared embarrassed and uncomfortable during the unusual draw.