Tennis chiefs rule out Australian Open boycott

Serbia's Novak Djokovic won the 2012 Australian Open, beating Spain's Rafael Nadal in the final.

Story highlights

  • ATP rule out backing a tennis players boycott of the 2013 Australian Open
  • Players angered by disparity in prize money between top stars and first round losers
  • The Australian Open has the highest prize fund of any of the four grand slams
  • A player who loses in the first round of the tournament receives $21,600

Tennis bosses have told the sport's stars that a boycott of the 2013 Australian Open over prize money would not be backed.

Players have voiced concerns over the disparity between the money earned by stars who reach the latter stages of grand slams and those who exit in the early rounds.

British newspaper the Sunday Times reported that they were planning to start a rebel event, possibly in Dubai, if pay is not increased for the Melbourne tournament in January.

But the ATP, which represents the interests of male players, has denied it would help players in organize any such action.

"The ATP has been clear and repetitive in telling players that it will not organize a boycott," it said in a statement.

"Instead, ATP Management and players have taken a diplomatic approach this year with the grand slams to address player compensation issues.

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"The grand slams are important events that generate significant revenues, and the players who perform there should share in an acceptable percentage of those revenues like they do on the ATP World Tour."

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The Australian Open, held in Melbourne every January, is one of four grand slams in tennis -- along with the French and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon.

In 2012, first-round losers at the year's first major tournament were given $21,600, compared to $22,500 in France and $23,000 in the U.S. and Britain -- the latter three having increased by 20%.

The biggest disparity is in Australia, which has the highest prize purse and biggest winner's check of almost $2.4 million.

"We are pleased that the discussions initiated by the ATP with each of the grand slams this year have resulted in certain prize money increases for players in 2012," the men's ruling body said.

"We remain focused on our active dialogue with these events about player compensation for 2013 and beyond. The players remain unified and passionate about this issue."

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley, in New York for the U.S. Open which began on Monday, attempted to quell boycott fears.

"We are the first to say that for tennis to be a viable career, the top 250 players need to make a good living," he told Australian news agency AAP.

"The top 250 players in tennis make about a quarter of the amount of money in tennis as they do in golf. So that could be a good benchmark for us. And the PGA Tour's prize money has increased more than the ATP Tour's has, so we have to address that too.

"Our relationship with the playing group is very, very strong. It's in everyone's interests (not to strike). We're very confident that whatever needs to be resolved will be."

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