Many ATP players remain "dissatisfied" with the U.S. Open’s plans that it would increase total prize money by $4M in '13, in part because "they were packaged with a 15th day of play in the form of a Monday men’s final," according to Christopher Clarey of the N.Y. TIMES. The tournament was "committed to scheduling a day of rest between the men’s semifinals and final." To do so, it needed "not only to alter its long-established schedule but to renegotiate its existing agreement with CBS, which runs through 2014." USTA Exec Dir & COO Gordon Smith said that the cost to the tournament in '13 for "switching the men’s semifinals to Friday and keeping the final in its Sunday slot would have been about $10 million, while the cost of keeping the men’s semifinals on Saturday and scheduling the final on Monday was considerably less, at $1.5 million." Switching the semifinals to Friday "would have required a loss of two ticketed sessions." Smith said a $10M shortfall would have "forced the USTA to cut numerous jobs and programs and financing for more than 90 minor league professional events." Smith said, "We’ve only committed to this Monday final for one year." The negotiations have been about "prize money but also about a philosophical approach, with Smith and other Grand Slam leaders arguing that they have an obligation to finance the game at the grass-roots level in their countries and to finance lower-level pro circuits." The players, while "recognizing that obligation, maintain that this should not keep the USTA and the other Grand Slam leaders from rewarding their players at a rate similar to the rate in regular ATP events." Smith said that he "told the players that the USTA would commit to increasing singles prize money by '75 percent minimum' from 2012 to 2017" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/16).
DOING RIGHT DOWN UNDER: In a special for USA TODAY, Douglas Robson notes ATP players have said that what "sets the Australian Open apart since it relocated to Melbourne Park in 1988 is the friendly vibe catering to players' needs -- everything from investment in top-notch facilities, bend-over-backward transport services and a location in the heart of downtown with easy access to restaurants, hotels and mass transit." Australian Open organizers expect "more than 650,000 visitors over the event's two weeks, more than four times the number that attended the final Australian Open held at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in 1987." The winner's check will be "a record $2.65 million for men's and women's singles this year, plus a roughly 30% increase for players losing in the first few rounds." In a "surprise gesture, the tournament gave every player in singles, doubles and qualifying an envelope with a $1,000 check for travel expenses." The "guiding force behind the event's rising prestige" is Tournament Dir Craig Tiley, who has run it since '07. Tennis Australia Head of Player Development Todd Woodbridge said of Tiley, "His relationship with the players are the reason the tournament is strong this year" (USA TODAY, 1/16).