The men’s tennis tour said it opposes a switch of the U.S. Open final to a Monday and wants a shake-up of prize-money distribution at the tournament.
The United States Tennis Association, which runs the annual Grand Slam event at the National Tennis Center in New York, last week announced it was moving the women’s final to a Sunday and the men’s final to a Monday from 2013. The aim is to provide a rest day between the semifinals and finals.
Rain has forced the men’s final, previously scheduled for Sunday afternoons, into Monday in each of the past five years. Players complained last year that the schedule, especially if altered due to rain delays, gave them no time to recuperate. The U.S. Open, which doesn’t have a roof, was the only major that scheduled the men’s semifinals and finals on consecutive days.
Although the ATP World Tour welcomed the rest day, it said in an e-mailed statement today that it “made clear to the U.S. Open that we do not support a Monday final.”
“We strongly believe the U.S. Open should keep a similar schedule to the other Grand Slams, with the men’s semifinals completed by Friday and the final on Sunday,” the ATP said. “It is unfortunate the U.S. Open response did not reflect our views on this issue and the ATP and its players will continue to pursue this matter in its discussions with the USTA.”
The USTA also announced last week that it would boost U.S. Open prize money by $4 million to $29.5 million. It follows the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, who have all boosted prize money this season.
Although the ATP welcomed what it said was the biggest U.S. Open prize-money increase since 1990, the rise didn’t reflect discussions held with the four majors regarding a more even distribution of prize money that the ATP says would benefit players across all levels of the tour. The ATP has also been fighting for a greater share of the revenue generated at the four Grand Slams.
“Over the last nine months the ATP and its players have asked that the U.S. Open fully recognize the fundamental role of the players in driving U.S. Open revenues, which are the largest in our sport,” the ATP said.
“The ATP therefore remains committed to continuing discussions on this issue, with the objective of ensuring that the players’ share of the revenues at the U.S. Open truly reflects the value that they generate for the event,” it added.
USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.
There had been talk of a possible strike by players including Britain’s Andy Murray during last year’s U.S. Open. The players’ total prize money accounts for less than 20 percent of revenue at the Australian, French and U.S. Opens. Wimbledon doesn’t disclose its revenue.
The women’s tour was more positive.
“We appreciate the USTA’s announcement of increased prize money and 40 years of equal compensation for the athletes of our sport,” WTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stacey Allaster said in a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg News. “The changes made for the 2013 U.S. Open are steps in the right direction.”
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