By Matt Hill
An increase of 4.15 million dollars to the prize money of the Australian Open might just have saved the first and one of the most exciting majors of the year. The Australian has quickly become an upper-echelon tournament, but the 2013 version came close to being altered.
The event that is played the last two weeks of January was in danger of being canceled because of the great gap between money made by the tournament and then dished out to the players. You may be thinking that these are greedy rich people trying to make more money, but it’s not. Yes, the Federers, Djokovics and Nadals are doing just fine, but what about those players hanging around the 60-90 mark in the rankings? Those are the ones that are struggling. This is what this threat was about and it’s a valid one. When you factor in hotels, travel and food for events, a lot of your pay check is spent, just like it is as a sportswriter.
There a lot of things people have to do and you have to be able to support your family as well. Some people say win more matches, but these players are some of the best in the world and there are only so many matches to go around. Lower ranked players do not just have to play the slams, they have to try to qualify for the Masters 1000s and if they can’t, they’re probably going to be playing in tournaments like the Thailand Open or if you’re in the part of the world, some of the smaller U.S. Tournaments like Atlanta and Los Angeles.
Roger Federer usually plays about 18 tournaments a year and that’s all he needs. He also has plenty of endorsement deals to carry him through (Nike, Wilson, Rolex, Mercedes, etc.). For someone like Ernest Gulbis, he has to play a whole lot more just to make a living.
I think more money in the slams allows people in the lower rounds to be able to help with needed expenses. With this being said, I did not want the Australian Open canceled. People in Australia may love tennis more than any other nation. The fans at that event are second-to-none as far as creating atmosphere. You may go as far to say that the Australian has surpassed the U.S. Open in excitement. For one thing, the Australian always gets done on time, unlike the fiascoes of Flushing Meadows of the past few years.
Australia deserved to have its tournament, but by the same token the players deserved to have their money. Now Australia will get to hold its annual sports spectacle, and these men are going to get their just reward. The grand slams make a ton of money, they should be able to dish a little more out.
This a win for the players, and in return a win for the fans.
Matt Hill is the Tennis Columnist for the Elizabethton (TN) Star. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @MattHillsports.