In his press conference ahead of the start of the 2021 Miami Open, John Isner talked at length about the prize-money reduction at ATP tournaments in recent times. The American also claimed that the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have skipped the Miami event due to 'scheduling conflicts'.
John Isner had taken to Twitter a month ago, calling the ATP a 'broken system' while drawing up a laundry list of suggestions he felt would make the payment structure fairer. Now, in light of the Miami Open seeing a 66% prize-money reduction, Isner explained he didn't have a problem with the low income in itself; instead, the 35-year-old just wants the ATP to be transparent in their decision-making regarding such matters.
"It's really not about the prize money," John Isner said. "It's about the system. My tweet that you're referring to, that's what I was referring to; not so much about the prize money. It's about the the system of the ATP and why the decisions are made and what goes into the prize money being so low. It's not about the actual prize money itself."
John Isner acknowledged that having low income from tournaments wasn't ideal, but added that he fully understood the necessity of such a situation.
"It's not what we're accustomed to," Isner continued. "But at the same time, we know that tournaments in the past year haven't had the ticketing revenue that they're used to having. So of course our prize money is going to take a hit because of that."
With a host of top-ranked players - including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Dominic Thiem - pulling out of the Miami Open, many have been questioning whether the reduction in prize money had influenced their decision. But John Isner believes it is the schedule, rather than the low prize-pool, that is to blame for the exodus of top players.
The American stressed that it made little sense for Europe-based players to travel all the way to the USA for just one tournament.
"So for the top players in Europe, I guess it's understandable," Isner said. "Maybe in the current climate it doesn't fit their schedule too well...with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem and all the guys that that are out, you said 31 of the top 100? It's a big commitment to come over here for for just one tournament and then immediately go back over to Europe. It's not necessarily about the about the prize money. It's just more more of a scheduling conflict."
The absence of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at Miami is a litmus test for tennis: John Isner
Despite the absence of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem, John Isner believes that the Miami Masters still boasts of a strong draw. Isner pointed out that the ATP tour has good bench strength, with several quality players lower down the rankings making their presence felt in recent times.
As such, the big-serving American firmly believes that the Floridian event will be a ‘good litmus test’ of whether men’s tennis can sustain itself without the Big 3.
"If you look at the draw itself, our tour is on the inside is so deep," John Isner explained. "I mean, there's so many good players and so many good unseeded players have so many good matches out on these courts. So in a sense it's a good litmus test as to how people perceive this event without those three guys, because, of course, they won't be playing forever."