Australian Open Boosts Prizes for Champions, Early Losers

The Australian Open will pay its 2013 men’s and women’s singles champions a record A$2.43 million ($2.55 million) each, with early losers at the season-opening tennis Grand Slam getting the biggest raise.

Next month’s event in Melbourne will pay more prize money per round than any other tournament as organizer Tennis Australia responded to player demands for a more even distribution of prize money at the sport’s four majors.

The largest increases are in the first three rounds, which all had at least a 30 percent rise from 2012, Tennis Australia said today. First-round losers will receive A$27,600, up from A$20,800 in 2012, while prize money for reaching the round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals has gone up almost 15 percent.

“Our motivation is to make a major contribution toward helping ensure professional tennis players can make a decent living,” Tournament Director Craig Tiley said in a statement. “It is a real issue and needs to be urgently addressed throughout the sport.”

Second-round losers in the men’s and women’s singles will pocket a check for A$45,500, a 36.6 percent increase, with those exiting in the third round picking up A$71,000, a 30 percent increase from the A$54,625 this year. The singles champions’ prize money rises 5.7 percent.

Greater Share

“Tennis Australia continues to show great leadership with their significant, long-term commitment to increased and fair compensation for the athletes of our sport,” the women’s WTA tour said in an e-mailed statement today. “Tennis Australia’s commitment to equal prize money and vision to raise the bar for the athletes and fans of the game is to be applauded.”

The ATP World Tour, which runs the men’s circuit, has been in negotiations with the four Grand Slams regarding a more even distribution of prize money that it 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 majors.

Tiley said the increases, which also included more prize money for the qualifying rounds and opening doubles round, rewarded the lower-ranked players for making it to a major.

“To just reach the main draw of a Slam, a professional tennis player has to be among the top 100 in what is one of, if not the most, competitive professional sport in the world,” Tiley said.

U.S. Prize Money

The tournament, which follows similar early-round increases at Roland Garros and Wimbledon earlier this season, starts Jan. 14 at Melbourne Park.

The U.S. Open last week announced it would boost its total prize money for 2013 by $4 million to $29.5 million with distribution determined at a later date.

The ATP World Tour earlier this week said the prize money increase at the U.S. Open didn’t fully reflect discussions it’s had with the tournament in the past nine months regarding a greater share of revenue.

The ATP didn’t respond to e-mails and phone calls by Bloomberg News seeking comment today.