Melbourne - Australian Open organisers increased
prize money for the early losers at the opening grand slam of the
season to record levels on Thursday, a move which is likely to quell
player unrest and end talk of a strike.
The Australian Open will
now pay more prize money per round than any other tournament, with
increases also coming in doubles and qualifying matches, but mixed
doubles saw a money freeze.
The biggest increases were for first
round losers in the men's and women's singles, who will now receive
A$27 600 ($29 000), representing a 32.7 percent boost from 2012, with
those exiting in the second round taking home $45 500, up 36.6 percent.
The move is likely to appease the players council, led by 17-times
grand slam champion Roger Federer, who had been calling for more revenue
from the four elite tournaments to be passed down to those hitting the
"Our motivation is to make a major contribution toward
helping ensure professional tennis players can make a decent living,"
Craig Tiley, the Australian Open tournament director, said in a
"As we have said in the past, it is a real issue and needs to be urgently addressed throughout the sport."
In October, Tiley's team announced that the players would be vying for a
share of a record A$30 million for the January 14-27 event without giving
the breakdown of how that money would be divided.
Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus pocketed A$2.3 million each
for their singles successes and a repeat next month in Melbourne would
give them A$2.43 million.
While the multi millionaires at the top
of the game will appreciate the extra rewards, the players scrambling
to make the top 100 of the men's and women's rankings and those who
mainly compete in doubles will be happier.
At the 2012 event, Israeli doubles veterans Jonathan Erlich and Andy
Ram shared A$9 500 for their first-round loss to the American Bryan
brothers, offering little in the way of winnings once expenses had been
taken into account.
A similar result next month will see the pair collect A$12 500.
"That is why the biggest increases are in the earlier rounds,
qualifying and doubles which in effect rewards a lot of the lower-ranked
players for their achievements which, by the way, should not be
"To just reach the main draw of a slam, a
professional tennis player has to be among the top 100 in what is one
of, if not the most, competitive professional sport in the world," Tiley
"At the same time, we also still want to continue to
recognise the incredible drawing power and contribution of the top
On Monday, the men's governing body, the ATP, gave a
lukewarm response to the US Open increasing prize money for the 2013
edition by $4 million to a record $29.5 million.
"The ATP remains
committed to continuing discussions on this issue, with the objective
of ensuring that the players' share of the revenues at the US Open
truly reflects the value that they generate for the event," the body
Tiley said his team had been in full discussion with the
players and tours before announcing their increases with more likely to
"It is always a balance which is why we undertook
unprecedented consultation on this subject with the tours and players
who have been extremely supportive," Tiley said.
"We will not be
stopping here. There will be more talks and more increases during the
next four years. This is just a very positive first step."