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U.S. Open Pay, Schedule Changes Came In Response To Player Pressure
Published March 21, 2013
PLAYERS TAKE UPPER HAND: In Miami, Sandra Harwitt writes the move “can be attributed to a united front by players.” ATPer Novak Djokovic said, “It’s a good response, and it’s a reaction from U.S. Open toward the players’ demands and desires” (MIAMI HERALD, 3/21). SI.com’s Jon Wertheim wrote the prize-money increase “indirectly” is a “result of the lack of U.S. players.” Top players for decades “accepted being paid less than the market rate, especially at their home Slam.” Now when there are “so few top U.S. players, the boycott threats carry more heat.” But the problem “becomes this: How does the USTA cover this new outlay?” (SI.com, 3/20). In London, Neil Harman writes the USTA has “couched” the move “as a triumph, whereas it was a face-saving exercise of the least edifying kind.” The USTA’s “enforced retreat will take some swallowing and the position” of Smith will “come in for rigorous scrutiny.” The situation had “got to the stage where the logistics were being put into place for an ATP event to be staged in New Jersey -- just across the state line from Flushing Meadows -- in direct conflict with the Open.” That event would have offered “huge prize money and ranking points as a slap in the face to the USTA.” It was “not until American officials dug deep to find the extra cash that the prospect of player reprisals was extinguished” (LONDON TIMES, 3/21).
OTHER SLAMS ON NOTICE: In London, Simon Briggs writes the move is a “big shift, and a win for player power.” Now is a “good time to be a tennis player -- as long as you are ranked high enough to play the biggest tournaments.” ATP player council member Eric Butorac said, “The $50 million figure is a big deal for us, because it shows this isn’t just a one-off pay rise to keep us quiet. It also puts pressure on the other grand slams to respond, particularly Wimbledon” (London TELEGRAPH, 3/21). Also in London, Mike Dickson reports Wimbledon and the French Open “will come under new pressure to make stiff increases in prize money.” While the threat of a boycott was “never likely to materialize, the players have been unusually united” and “succeeded in persuading” the USTA to give the players a larger percentage of U.S. Open revenue (London DAILY MAIL, 3/21).