Australian Open Boosts Payout To Record $30.8M For 2014 Tournament
The Australian Open in '14 will see a boost in prize money to a record A$33M ($30.8M) -- a 10% increase that is "slightly less" than the record-setting uptick last year, according to Linda Pearce of THE AGE. The distribution "will be finalised after discussions with the ATP and the WTA, although the winners will receive" an increase over the $2.5M offered last year. Tennis HOFer Pete Sampras also "will make a rare grand slam appearance" to present the men's trophy at the event. Tournament Dir and Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said of Sampras, "We know we're going to be the envy of the U.S. Open, Wimbledon and Roland Garros to get Pete down here, to celebrate his success and join us for the final week." But the "most visible change for 2014 will be the redevelopment of Margaret Court Arena, the third stadium court behind Rod Laver Arena and Hisense, and the third -- a world first -- to have a retractable roof." The roof "will not be operational" until '15, although it "may be ready for Davis Cup or Fed Cup play before then" (THE AGE, 10/2). The AP noted all four Grand Slams have "greatly increased their prize money in the past two years." Wimbledon "now offers" about $36.5M while the U.S. Open increased its purse to $34.3M and the French Open went up to $29.7M (AP, 10/1).
NADAL BOOST: In Brisbane, Sam Lienert reported Tiley said that "it would be a boost" to have reigning U.S. and French Open champion Rafael Nadal back, after he missed this year's event through illness and injury. Nadal "could next week regain the No.1 ranking" from Novak Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open for the past three years. Tiley: "We're very pleased as things stand today that we're expecting all the top 100 men and all the top 100 women" (BRISBANE TIMES, 10/2). In Melbourne, Peter Rolfe reported the cost of a popular ground pass to the event "has been frozen" at A$34 for the first week of play and go on sale to the public on Oct. 8. However, ground passes for the peak middle weekend of the Grand Slam -- one of only four in the world -- "have risen" A$15 to A$49 a day or A$90 for Saturday and Sunday (HERALD SUN, 10/2).
KID'S DAY: WORLD TENNIS MAGAZINE's Liz Kobak reported Australian Open officials "did not break down the prize money awarded per round Wednesday, but men and women will receive equal amounts as in previous years." The prize money increase is up A$7M in the last two years. Roger Federer "has been enlisted as Ambassador for the tournament’s Kids’ Tennis Day and will join fellow players and Nickelodeon characters at a special Rod Laver Arena show" on Jan. 11 (WORLD TENNIS MAGAZINE, 10/2).
WHO'S IN, WHO'S OUT: In Melbourne, Linda Pearce reported the non-dollar talk at last year's Australian Open launch was of Nadal's "promised return from his latest bout of left-knee tendonitis; 12 months later, the injury of note involves Andy Murray's troublesome lower back." Tiley has no doubt Murray "will be fit to compete at Melbourne Park in 2014." The Wimbledon champion "had surgery last month to alleviate a long-standing disc problem and is unlikely to play again this year. It was the right time for him to actually take that break and he's always had a few niggling back issues. He's fine. I stay in touch with Judy Murray, his mum, she's a friend, and he wants to win the Australian Open, so he'll be fine" (THE AGE, 10/2).