SBD/March 22, 2013/Events and Attractions

French Open Next In Line To Increase Purse; Players' Direct Discussions To Thank?

A French Open prize money hike comes on the heels of the U.S. Open's increase
French Open Tournament Dir Gilbert Ysern said the event plans to increase prize money "spectacularly" over the next four years, according to Christopher Clarey of the N.Y. TIMES. While Ysern declined to give precise figures, he acknowledged “surprise at the magnitude of the U.S. Open prize-money move.” He said, “We’re going to be below the U.S. Open, but we’re on the same path.” Ysern added that the “emphasis would remain on increasing rewards for players who are eliminated in earlier rounds.” Clarey writes after increased purses for the U.S. Open and the Australian Open, it would “come as quite a surprise" if the other two Grand Slams did not make "commensurate increases.” The players are “now unquestionably on a roll," as they have "established precedent by conducting direct discussions with the Grand Slam leadership over prize money.” ATP BOD rep Justin Gimelstob said, “The French Open is in tremendous jeopardy of falling behind after what the U.S. Open and Australian Open have announced.” Clarey write the developments this year are “surprising and potentially game-changing if the players choose to use their leverage collectively and selectively on a number of issues.” Those include the “yearly calendar, the problematic Davis Cup team event, and even the format of the game itself in an increasingly physical era.”

LEADING ROLES: Outgoing ATP Exec Chair & President Brad Drewett has “played less of a role in the most recent negotiations because of serious illness," and others such as Gimelstob have “taken on larger, pivotal roles.” Gimelstob: “I won’t say it was fun or cordial, and it was incredibly stressful and angst-ridden and there were even times it got personal.” Though Player Council President Roger Federer’s “hands-on leadership has created occasional friction" with other top players, it has been "critical to projecting credibility to Grand Slam tournament leaders.” The USTA’s concessions “mean that the relationship between the tournament and the top men’s players -- increasingly testy in recent years -- could improve” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/22).
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