SBJ/January 21-27, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Players expected to seek more from U.S. Open

Will there be a U.S. Open Tennis Championships as normal this year?

Justin Gimelstob, an ATP player board member, won’t go so far as to say that question is open, but he does say that he doubts players will accept the Open’s prize money increase as the last word. While the U.S. Open did increase prize money for the men by $2 million for 2013, that does not nearly meet the dramatic shift the players were aiming for, Gimelstob said. That combined with the move to a final on Monday from Sunday, also opposed by the players, leads Gimelstob to conclude, “I would be surprised if players accepted it.”

The ATP has led an effort to significantly increase Grand Slam prize money, which has long trailed other ATP events and other sports in terms of percentage of revenue. The Australian Open has agreed to the changes, but the U.S. Open, based on a percentage of revenue, has not, according to the ATP. While the Australian Open now pays around 20 percent of revenue to players, and that will rise in coming years to 24 percent for both men and women, the Open pays around half that. The Open, which normally announces its prize money in July, did so last month.

The ATP players have three options: stage an alternate event; reduce the ranking points players get at the Open, thereby diminishing its significance; or keep talking with the event. A formal boycott, ATP lawyers have advised players in the past, would be an antitrust violation.

— Daniel Kaplan

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