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SBD Global/August 28, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

ATP Says They Are Not Backing A Boycott Of The Australian Open

Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning the men's final against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open in January.
The prospect of the world's leading male tennis players boycotting January's Australian Open due to a pay dispute "has been dismissed by tournament organisers and representatives of the players' organisation," according to Courtney Walsh of THE AUSTRALIAN. Australian Open Tournament Dir Craig Tiley said that "while there was a genuine issue with funding at lower levels, he was sure all players will be in attendance in Melbourne." Tiley said, "We are 100% confident the players will show up in January." He acknowledged, however, genuine concerns in regard to attracting and retaining players compared with other sports but said that "the solution needed to be broader than simply raising prize money at Grand Slam level." He said that the biggest issue "was the money for the lower-tier circuits, where funding had dropped in recent years" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/28). In Sydney, Linda Pearce reported that Tiley confirmed the men were pushing for a little more than 12% of total revenue, which equates to about 25% overall when the equal prize money for women is factored in, up from about 18%. Tiley said, "We don't deal in percentage of revenues, because it goes up and down, of course, and you can't pay players less one year than you did the previous year, as an example." He added: "We don't disagree that the lower-ranked players, 80 and below, really don't make enough money to support a viable professional tennis career. But it's not isolated to the grand slams, we just think it's a bigger sport issue to deal with and it needs to be looked at as a whole" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/28).

KEEPING THE PEACE: BLOOMBERG's Dan Baynes reported that the ATP released a statement, saying it is not "helping to organize a boycott of the Australian Open." The statement read, "The ATP has been clear and repetitive in telling players that it will not organize a boycott. Instead, ATP management and players have taken a diplomatic approach this year with the Grand Slams to address player compensation issues." The Florida-based ATP said it remains focused on having "active dialogue" with the four Grand Slams about player compensation for '13 and beyond (BLOOMBERG, 8/26). The AFP's Madeleine Coorey wrote former ATP Player Council President Todd Woodbridge, who is now Tennis Australia's head of professional tennis, said while the idea of a boycott had been "thrown around for a while," one was unlikely to happen. Woodbridge said, "I would be very shocked if that were to happen. I think we're in good shape" (AFP, 8/27).
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