ATP Says Players Aren’t Organizing Boycott of Australian Open

The Association of Tennis Professionals said it isn’t helping to organize a boycott of the Australian Open as male players fight for a bigger percentage of revenues at the Grand Slam tournaments.

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that there were rumors the ATP, which governs the men’s professional circuit, was considering staging an alternative tournament to January’s Australian Open in Dubai if early-round losers didn’t receive more prize money.

“The ATP has been clear and repetitive in telling players that it will not organize a boycott,” read an e-mailed statement from the ATP. “Instead, ATP management and players have taken a diplomatic approach this year with the Grand Slams to address player compensation issues.”

The French Open and Wimbledon increased prize money this year for the early rounds after lobbying from the ATP and its players for a better distribution of revenue generated by the four majors. The U.S. Open starts today in New York, while the Australian Open is yet to announce its prize money for the 2013 edition, which is scheduled for Jan. 14-27 in Melbourne.

This year, the season-opening major offered $A20,800 ($21,600) to first-round losers. The French Open paid 18,000 euros ($22,500), while those exiting in the opening round at Wimbledon in June were paid 14,500 pounds ($22,915), a 26 percent jump on the previous year. First-round losers at the U.S. Open will get $23,000 with the men’s and women’s singles champions picking up $1.9 million each.

‘Unified and Passionate’

The Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida-based ATP said it remains focused on having “active dialogue” with the four Grand Slams about player compensation for 2013 and beyond.

“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,” the ATP’s statement added. “The players remain unified and passionate about this issue.”

Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said in a June interview with Bloomberg News that tennis lags behind sports including golf when it comes to player compensation.

“The issue is to make tennis a viable career for a player ranked from 80 to 200 in the world,” Tiley said in June. “It’s not right now. Depending on where you are from, you probably have to be ranked 120th in the world in the men, and 100th in the world in the women to break even. That’s just to break even. In golf, it’s triple that.”

Tiley said today that Australian Open organizers are taking the possibility of some players boycotting the tournament seriously and will try to address their concerns.

“We’re confident that the players will be in Melbourne in January and we’ll be working through in the coming months to put forward some solution towards compensation,” Tiley said in an Australian Broadcasting Corp radio interview.

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