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OPINION | Wages of Stardom: Simmering Anger at Australian Open on Pay Hike Issue

The main grouse of the players is that in Grand Slams players get only a small 7 per cent of the revenue while in the American NBA players get a grand 50 per cent of the revenue as pay-out.

Binoo K John |

Updated:January 23, 2018, 9:33 AM IST
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OPINION | Wages of Stardom: Simmering Anger at Australian Open on Pay Hike Issue
Tennis - Australian Open - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 22, 2018. Serbia's Novak Djokovic during a press conference after losing his match against South Korea's Chung Hyeon. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
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Melbourne: Novak Djokovic who has the twin role of being president of the ATP player council may have played down the possibility of a players boycott of major tournaments to press for more pay, but there is simmering anger here among players who have openly stated they are being short-changed as far as prize money goes.

The main grouse of the players is that in Grand Slams players get only a small 7 per cent of the revenue while in the American NBA players get a grand 50 per cent of the revenue as pay-out.

The issue has been put on the front table by Djokovic at an ATP meeting just before the start of the Australian Open. He later said that he is not the one attending negotiations and there are other people also involved.

As if to hose down the rising anger, the CEO of Tennis Australia and tournament director Craig Tiley said that in five years the prize money of the Australian Open tournament will be increased to $100 million from the $55 million now. Players are unlikely to be happy with such slow initiation of the pay hike.

Jamie Murray, while talking at a press meet, said that the 7% is not doing any good to the players and there is strong case for pay enhancement. Bruno Soares of Brazil also echoed the same sentiments saying that an increase in pay will only benefit the game as a whole.

Keven Anderson who is vice president of the ATP player council said: “I think there's a big case to be made as far as percentage goes. If you see an NBA (basketball) player or an NFL (American football) player you think seven figures in their bank account and I don't think that's the case even for some players who make the main draw at Grand Slams."

Players have been talking about it now that it has become a prime issue, there are indications that a strong move from the players will come sometime soon.

The total prize money for the men’s singles alone is Australian dollars 20,440,000 out of which the men’s winner gets 4 million dollars and the runners-up gets half that amount. A first round loser gets 60,000 Australian dollars. This, the players feel, do not match up to American basketball standards or even the Premiership football payout for top players.

It costs a tennis player a fortune before they can make it even to the top 300 in ATP rankings all in the hope that they will make some big cash. Most players outside the top 100 just about make enough money to continue on the tour. A first round loser gets only 10 points which all adds up in the arduous climb up the ATP tour hierarchy.

The problem facing the lesser ranked players (or those below 25th rank) find it tough to make ends meet, considering that the major share of the pie is eaten up by the top players all the time. There are far few upsets on the tour and the money flows in the direction of the toppers. The lower round prize money has been increased in recent times but that is not going to satisfy everyone.
| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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