New York, USA, 27 August 2012 | AAP
Australian Open boss Craig Tiley is confident the world’s best tennis players will be in Melbourne in January for the biggest annual event on the national sporting calendar despite threats of a boycott.
In New York for the US Open starting on Monday, Tiley said he was treating the prize money threats “very seriously”, but was confident the issue would be resolved.
Players are disgruntled not about the huge prize money on offer to the winners and finalists at the four annual majors, but about the lesser amounts given to early-round losers.
World No.1 Roger Federer is the president of the ATP players’ council.
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Tiley agrees lower-ranked players deserve more and says the Australian Open will make every attempt to meet their needs, but that the issue shouldn’t be limited only to the grand slam events.
“We are the first to say that for tennis to be a viable career, the top 250 players need to make a good living,” Tiley told AAP.
“The top 250 players in tennis make about a quarter of the amount of money in tennis as they do in golf.
“So that could be a good benchmark for us. And the PGA Tour’s prize money has increased more than the ATP Tour’s has so we have to address that too.”
In 2012, the Australian Open offered $20,800 to first round losers and the French Open coughed up 18,000 euros (AUD$21,700).
Wimbledon agreed to pay out STG14,500 (AUD$22,100) and the US Open will fork out USD$23,000 (AUD$22,100).
London’s Sunday Times said there were rumours the ATP was considering staging an alternative tournament to the Australian Open in Dubai if players did not receive a higher percentage of tournament revenue.
But the ATP was stern in ruling out such radical action on Sunday.
“The ATP has been clear and repetitive in telling players that it will not organise a boycott,” Kate Gordon said in a statement.
“Instead, ATP Management and players have taken a diplomatic approach this year with the Grand Slams to address player compensation issues.
“The Grand Slams are important events that generate significant revenues, and the players who perform there should share in an acceptable percentage of those revenues like they do on the ATP World Tour.
“We are pleased that the discussions initiated by the ATP with each of the grand slams this year have resulted in certain prize money increases for players in 2012, and we remain focused on our active dialogue with these events about player compensation for 2013 and beyond.
“The players remain unified and passionate about this issue.”
Tiley, who has spoken directly to Federer and other leading players in New York, said he was “absolutely” confident an Australian Open strike would be averted.
“Our relationship with the playing group is very, very strong,” he said. “It’s in everyone’s interests [not to strike].
“We’re very confident that whatever needs to be resolved will be.”