Elite group whip up Slam storm
“We do agree that we should be increasing prize money,” Tiley said. “We’ve never shied away from that, and it’s just a question of what we can afford and just how satisfactory that is to the player group.”
The deadline is approaching rapidly. The Australian Open is scheduled to announce its 2013 prize money totals in the first week of October, although Tiley said the tournament reserved the right to adjust the package later. The players have cracked in the past. In the early 2000s, under former chief executive Mark Miles, the ATP deployed many of the same arguments in an attempt to extract a greater percentage of revenue. But the top players lacked the necessary cohesiveness to follow through.
“It’s tough to get 10 top players in the same room, let alone agree upon one thing,” said Pete Sampras, the former number one who retired in 2003. “It’s not the NBA. It’s not a union. It’s individual guys. There were too many different opinions and, to be quite honest with you, I didn’t have the energy to get involved.”
The true level of unity among the current player pool remains unclear, but there appears to be unity of purpose at the top. Federer, Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal and the ATP Tour’s new chief executive, Brad Drewett, have met repeatedly with representatives of the Grand Slam tournaments this year. Nadal and Djokovic are no longer on the ATP Player Council, but Federer remains its president.
Some Grand Slam officials have resisted the idea of linking prize money to a percentage of revenue. Some argue that it should be linked to profit, and they note that approximately one-third of the overall prize money on the men’s tour comes from their tournaments.
“If you have a look at 1998 and the Consumer Price Index increase on prize money per tournament, the Slams have gone up 1,095 percent, the ATP Tour has gone up 216 percent, and the challengers have gone down 15 percent,” Tiley said. “So there’s a big gap. The Slams have stepped up in their prize money and we believe they can step up more, and of course we will step up more, but the question is just by how much.”
The answer could make all the difference between a peaceful start to next season and a stormy one.
New York Times Service