The Day Before The Last Slam

By Jane Voigt

Here we go again. The USTA is about to unleash another of its monstrous and marvelously hyper-slams tomorrow. 

It wants the two weeks to be a happy experience for ticket holders, players and sponsors, with no rain please. No leaking courts. 

But the irate tennis pros that were pushed to argue for a bigger cut of revenue in 2011 because of poor decisions from tournament officials again raised their voices at a mandatory ATP meeting in New York City last night. They remain vigilant in their desire for a bigger percentage of cash from the slams’ revenue pie — poor decisions or no poor decisions.

As a result of players’ goals Barry Flatman reported today in The Australian that, “leading male players, who are fighting for a bigger percentage of grand slam revenues to be paid in prize money are threatening to boycott The Australian Open in January.”

And according to the same article, the big guns from Tennis Australia will arrive in New York soon to take part in the scheduled Grand Slam Committee meeting, which will be forced to address the dicey issue. 

Andy Roddick, in attendance yesterday, compared revenue for pro golfers to pro tennis players. “A golfer on the PGA tour can win $11.5m in one tournament. I think the 15th tennis player on the all-time ATP career prize money list was $14m.” 

He went on to argue that ATP prize money at majors remains in the teens while NBA players earn 50% of revenues. 

Central to their push for more money is the amount made by players ranked 80 and up. These are the ones who pay their own expenses. Roddick said, “You don’t do that on a professional sports team. That is who any action would benefit.”

Earlier in the year, the issue became so hotly contested that the presiding president of the ATP Players Council, Roger Federer, and Deputy Rafael Nadal found themselves at odds. Federer was complacent about taking action, which frustrated Nadal enough that he resigned. Now, though, Federer just may be in a position and of mind to lean more heavily along lines originally spurred by Nadal and many other players. 

The USTA earns 80% of its annual revenue from proceeds directly related to The U. S. Open. And, half of that revenue hits its bottom line as more than $100 million in profit. Couple that with the economic uptick in business from millions of visitors in New York City over the two weeks plus the surrounding areas, revenue from television viewership and advertising/promotional money, and sponsorship income we have a potential stream of income that could more than satisfy anyone and everyone involved. 

It will be interesting to see what falls out of the Grand Slam Committee’s conversations particularly since the USTA proclaims that its slam is the biggest sporting event of the year. 

Prize money in 2012 will total $24,054,000, which is $2 million more than 2011. 

The men’s and women’s singles champions will earn $1.9 million while the player packing up after a first-round loss in singles competition will pocket $23,000. Those who play in the singles Qualification Tournament earn $8,638, $5,775, and $3,000 respectively for having won in the third, second or first rounds. 

On the last weekend as finalists contend for the highest honors at the U. S. Open and we hear the prize money announced proudly by presenters, we will have to remember its comparative worth when tennis is viewed as one sport amongst many worldwide.




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