Djokovic sat­is­fied with prize pool ahead of Aus­tralian Open tilt

Gulf Times Sport - - TENNIS -

No­vak Djokovic says he is sat­is­fied with how the grand slams are re­act­ing to a player-led push for big­ger pay­checks — but that it’s not about in­creas­ing his own bank bal­ance.

Djokovic, the pres­i­dent of the ATP Player’s Coun­cil, has led a push for a higher per­cent­age of earn­ings gen­er­ated at the world’s big­gest ten­nis tour­na­ments be dis­trib­uted to play­ers. He said yes­ter­day ahead of the start of the Aus­tralian Open he was sat­is­fied with re­cent prize money changes, which in­cludes a 14 per­cent rise in the prize pool for the Mel­bourne event.

“I have to men­tion that be­cause we are fo­cussed on dis­tri­bu­tion, equal dis­tri­bu­tion, and we are fo­cussed more on the ear­lier rounds, last rounds of qual­i­fi­ca­tion...” Djokovic told jour­nal­ists. “We’re try­ing to in­crease the num­ber of play­ers that are able to travel around the world, not just cover ex­penses, have the full team, have a de­cent liv­ing out of the sport that they play.” An In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion (ITF)-com­mis­sioned study pre­vi­ously found the break-even point where av­er­age costs met earn­ings in 2013 was 336 for men and 253 for women. But once coach­ing costs are fac­tored in, far fewer play­ers can make a liv­ing, with the break-even point ap­proach­ing 150.

A large part of the prize money in­crease at the Aus­tralian Open — run by the coun­try body and ITF, not the ATP — is di­rected at the ear­lier rounds of the tour­na­ment.

First round losers in the main draw, for both men and women, will re­ceive A$75,000 ($54,143), rep­re­sent­ing a 25 per­cent in­crease on the pre­vi­ous year. Play­ers can usu­ally se­cure a main draw ap­pear­ance by hav­ing a rank­ing in the top 100. Djokovic and ri­val Roger Fed­erer are both in search of a record sev­enth Aus­tralian Open ti­tle in Mel­bourne, and with it, a win­ner’s purse of A$4.1mn ($2.96mn).

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