US Open boosts prize money in new ATP, WTA deal
NEW YORK (AFP) –
US Open prize money will reach $50 million by 2017 and the event will return to a Sunday finish in 2015 under a five-year deal announced Wednesday between Open organisers and the ATP and WTA tours.
The US Tennis Association (USTA) boosted the base prize money for this year’s US Open by $4.1 million beyond the $4 million jump announced last December, raising the total to $33.6 million compared to $25.5 million in 2012.
“These increases are the largest in the history of the sport, representing a significant step forward in truly recognizing the input the players have in the success of the US Open,” ATP president Brad Drewett said.
Men’s players have protested against the crush of matches on consecutive days in recent years due to rain delays in order to have a Sunday finish.
Despite that, the men’s final has been delayed to Monday for the past five years.
The US Open did not provide for a stadium with a roof in major renovation plans announced last year, but it does plan to have a Monday finish this year in order to allow a day between the semi-finals and final, something missing in recent years because of the “Super Saturday” format with the women’s final.
But under the new contract, the 2013 and 2014 men’s finals will be played on Monday and in 2015 the men’s final will be played on Sunday with the women’s final on Saturday and the men’s semi-finals on Friday.
“Everyone I have spoken with is excited about the increases in prize money as well as the agreement to change the schedule for 2015 and beyond,” said 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, president of the ATP player council.
In recent years, the US Open has played the men’s first round over three days. That likely would be trimmed to two days in order to fit a draw of 128, seven matches for the champion, into 14 days.
“With this unprecedented commitment to long-term prize money and recognition of the value that players bring to the sport, we will gain stability for the sport so that we can focus our energy on growing the game,” USTA president David Haggerty said.
Federer said the USTA “approached our concerns with a true spirit of partnership.”
The USTA said it would announce exact round-by-round distribution of prize money for this year’s US Open later this year with further prize money boosts to be announced annually, but payouts would remain equal for men and women.
“We applaud the USTA’s long-term commitment to increased and fair compensation for our athletes,” WTA chairman Stacey Allaster said. “Today’s announcement is a testament to their continued bold vision for the sport.”
This year’s US Open is scheduled to run from August 26 to September 9.