Report Claims U.S. Open Could Fall Victim To First Boycott In 40 Years
The U.S. Open will be "met with a walkout from an overwhelming majority of the men’s players this year unless it comes up with a considerable improvement in prize money and reconsiders its decision to move the final to a Monday night," according to Neil Harman of the LONDON TIMES. There is "a growing sense" among those performing at the Australian Open -- which recently increased its prize money -- that the comparative payout by the United States Tennis Association will "lead to the first boycott in the sport" since 81 players refused to play at Wimbledon in '73. If a similar number of players made good on a threat not to play the U.S. Open this year, the "effects would be profound." The USTA said in December that an additional $4M "would be found" for the overall '13 pot, and that the event would be extended to 15 days for a Monday men’s final, with a day in between the semifinals and the final. The men said that this decision was "taken without consultation and that they disagree with the extension of the event," having preferred a Friday semifinal and a Sunday final. Their greater beef, though, is with what they see as an "insignificant increase in their rewards" (LONDON TIMES, 1/21). The PA's Crooks & Fisher wrote organizers will have to decide in the future whether to shift the men's semifinals from Saturday to Friday, a move they have "so far resisted for commercial reasons." Another of the players' biggest complaints has been "with the length of the season." The schedule was reduced by two weeks last season and will be the same this season. However, in order to achieve that, the week between the Paris Masters and ATP World Tour Finals in London was taken out, "arguably to the detriment of both tournaments" (DAILY MAIL, 1/21).
BOYCOTT TALK FANCIFUL: In London, Kevin Mitchell wrote in the GUARDIAN's The Sport Blog, "Fanciful notions that players might boycott the US Open this year (or any tournament from here until the end of time) raised wry smiles in Melbourne." Andy Murray seemed "nonplussed when asked about this allegedly burning issue." Murray said, "I didn't know about the story. Where did that come from?" With unemployment stubbornly high in the U.S. and elsewhere, "sympathy for a strike by millionaire tennis players would be about zero." It "won't happen" (GUARDIAN, 1/21).