ATP Releases Statement Opposing U.S. Open Men's Final Scheduling Change
The ATP this morning issued a statement saying it has "made it clear" to the USTA that it does not support a Monday final for the U.S. Open. The ATP said, "We strongly believe the U.S. Open should keep a similar schedule to the other Grand Slams, with the men's semi-finals completed by Friday and the final on Sunday. It is unfortunate the U.S. Open response did not reflect our views on this issue and the ATP and its players will continue to pursue this matter in its discussions with the USTA." The ATP also addressed the U.S. Open's $4M increase in prize money for the '13 tournament, bringing the total to $29.5M. The ATP said the increase is “appreciated," but the organization “remains committed to continuing discussions on this issue, with the objective of ensuring that the players’ share of the revenues at the US Open truly reflects the value that they generate for the event” (ATP). In N.Y., Lynn Zinser noted the USTA's scheduling change brings an end to "the Super Saturday format that featured the men’s semifinals and women’s final on the same day.” But the change is “only official for 2013,” and the format for future years “will probably not be determined until after the 2013 tournament.” Rain during the event has “happened for five straight years, pushing the men’s final to Monday each time" (NYTIMES.com, 12/14). REUTERS' Martyn Herman notes players have “complained about prize money for years, saying purses for the four grand slams were too small in relation to the revenue they brought in and too lop-sided in favour of the top competitors who regularly advance to the later stages.” The matter “came to a head before this year's Australian Open although talk of a possible strike never came to fruition” (REUTERS, 12/17).
PLAYERS WEIGH IN: SPORTING LIFE’s Andy Schooler noted tennis player Andy Murray last week “backed the decision to include a rest day between the last two rounds but notably did not mention the switch to a Monday.” The schedule for the ‘14 US Open is “still to be decided with officials due to decide on that once they have seen how next year's tournament unfolds” (SPORTINGLIFE.com, 12/17). Murray said that the U.S. Opens changes in purse and schedule “were good decisions.” WTA Player Council rep Serena Williams said, “Both the prize money increase and the addition of a day of rest are great for the players. These moves make the tournament stronger than it’s ever been for all players.” But ATP Player Council representative Sergiy Stakhovsky “was not thrilled with the schedule changes.” He tweeted, “Very nice of #USTA to make a Monday final without talking to players” (TENNIS.com, 12/15).
LIVING IN TV LAND: SI.com’s Courtney Nguyen wrote the scheduling changes mean “the chaos and inherent unfairness of Super Saturday, which had both men’s semifinals played during the day and the women’s final in prime time, is over for at least a year.” A predetermined Monday finish “gives ample time to secure the necessary broadcast window, preventing a situation where the final gets bounced from channel to channel with no warning.” Nguyen: “Hopefully that also means local CBS affiliates actually carry the event, a problem that comes up every time the final was belatedly pushed to Mondays.” But the 5pm ET start time on Monday “remains a problem” (SI.com, 12/14). In N.Y., Wayne Coffey cited a source as saying that the schedule changes “have been under discussion for some six months.” The source said that the USTA will “have to give back money to broadcast partner CBS as a result of the shift to a 5 p.m. Monday start time for the men’s final -- a slot that will not command anything close to the ratings CBS could get on Sunday afternoon.” The source said, “It’s all a balancing act -- weighing what’s best for the fans, the players and (CBS)” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/15). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Tom Perrotta wrote players “have been agitating for an official day of rest for years, and their complaints became louder recently” (WSJ.com, 12/14).