News24

Money boost pleases Djokovic

2012-10-02 18:11

Beijing - Novak Djokovic on Tuesday welcomed news that Australian Open prize money would rise by Aus$4m (US$4.1m) but warned that players' fight for a greater share of revenue was "not over yet".

The world No 2 from Serbia described an announcement by the organisers of January's Grand Slam that the purse would increase to a record Aus$30m as "positive".

He urged the other three of tennis's major titles to follow suit.

"It's a step forward, definitely," the 25-year-old said following his win in the first round of the China Open in Beijing.

"They have clearly shown understanding for players' demands and what the players had to say, so that's really nice to see."

Djokovic, a three-time winner of the Australian Open, said it was "great news for every player that plays this sport" but added: "It's not over yet.

"Obviously there are other Grand Slams that need to react, and we are still in negotiations and we are still doing it behind closed doors."

Australian Open organisers boosted prize money on Tuesday following reports in August that players on the ATP Tour, which runs the men's game, were mulling a boycott of the tournament to try to gain a higher percentage of Grand Slam event revenues for themselves.

At issue is the pay of lower-ranked players, who often exit in the first round after making the long journey Down Under.

While this year they pocketed Aus$20 800 ($21 600 US) for a first-round defeat at the Australian Open, some players struggle to make ends meet during the year as they pay for much of their own expenses and travel.

Without a high profile, they are also unable to score lucrative sponsorship deals that could help sustain their careers.

Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood said officials were seeking further input from the players about a fairer distribution of the prize money.

Australian Open director Craig Tiley added that the prize money break-up would be determined after he meets ATP players' council representatives including Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray in Shanghai this weekend.

But he said the increases would be weighted towards those who lose in the early rounds.

AFP