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Record Australian Open prize money heads off player unrest

updated 12:19 PM EDT, Wed October 3, 2012
Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic has welcomed the big increase in prize money at the grand slam.
Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic has welcomed the big increase in prize money at the grand slam.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Australian Open boosts prize money for 2013 event to record $31.1 million
  • Move designed to meet concerns of players over breakdown of prize purse
  • Novak Djokovic welcomes decision after winning first round match at China Open
  • Prague to host Davis Cup final between Czech Republic and Spain

(CNN) -- The 2013 Australian Open will boast the biggest prize pool in the history of tennis, organizers announced Tuesday.

The increase of $4.12 million will see players compete for their share of a record $31.1 million in January's tournament in Melbourne.

"We are proud to announce this major increase in prize money," Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood told the official website of the grand slam event.

"We have led the world in prize money for these incredible athletes and we want to ensure that the Australian Open continues to make a major contribution to the financial well being of professional tennis players."

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Wood revealed that officials will seek the views of ATP Tour players regarding the breakdown of the prize purse to make sure lower ranked players received greater compensation for their efforts.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said he would meet leading players Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in Shanghai this weekend to discuss the issue, which had prompted reports of a possible player boycott of the opening grand slam of the season.

Defending champion Djkokovic, who is playing the China Open in Beijing, welcomed the announcement after a three-set win over German qualifier Michael Berrer Tuesday.

"It's a step forward, definitely," the Serbian, who is a member of the ATP Player Council, told AFP.

"They have clearly shown understanding for players' demands and what the players had to say, so that's really nice to see."

"But it's not over yet," he added. "There are other grand slams that need to react, and we are still in negotiations and we are still doing it behind closed doors."

ATP chief executive Brad Drewett added: "We welcome the increase in prize money for the 2013 Australian Open and acknowledge the ongoing efforts of Tennis Australia to recognise the role of the players in the success of the tournament.

"We also look forward with confidence to continuing these successful discussions with a view to a longer-term understanding."

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the third seed in Beijing, was also extended to three sets by Uzbekistan's unseeded Denis Istomin before winning 4-6 6-1 7-6.

Meanwhile, U.S. Open champion Murray, who beat Djokovic in the final at Flushing Meadows, opened his account at the Japan Open with a 7-6 6-4 first-round win over Ivo Karlovic of Croatia.

Like Djokovic, the Scot was playing his first match since the final grand slam of the season as he defends his title in Tokyo.

The final of the Davis Cup between holders Spain and the Czech Republic, will take place at Prague's O2 Arena, organizers announced Tuesday.

A hard court surface will be laid for the match from November 16-18 and it will come hard on the heels of the final of the women's Fed Cup on November 3-4, where holders the Czech Republic take on Serbia at the same venue.

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