APNewsBreak: US Open tennis prizes to $50M by ’17

The U.S. Open tennis tournament will increase its annual prize

money to $50 million by 2017 – nearly double what it was last year

– and switch back to a Sunday men’s final in 2015, The Associated

Press has learned.

As part of an unprecedented five-year agreement with the men’s

and women’s professional tours, New York’s Grand Slam also is

making an additional $4.1 million increase to this year’s prize

pool, on top of an already-record $4 million jump announced in

December. That brings the 2013 total payout to $33.6 million from

the $25.5 million in 2012.

The moves, aimed at improving relations with players seeking a

greater say in the sport and a larger slice of Grand Slam revenues,

were formally presented to the ATP Player Council at a meeting

Tuesday in Key Biscayne, Fla. Details were described to the AP by

U.S. Tennis Association officials in telephone interviews after

their session with representatives from the men’s tour.

The USTA planned to announce the changes Wednesday.

”Roger Federer said it perhaps best of all: It’s time for us to

work together, as opposed to working against each other,” USTA

Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Gordon Smith

said.

Federer, the 17-time major champion, is president of the ATP

Player Council. He is not playing in the tournament that begins

this week at Key Biscayne, but participated in Tuesday’s meeting

via telephone. Federer joined other top players, including current

No. 1 Novak Djokovic, in lobbying the USTA and other Grand Slam

tournaments to raise prize money.

Asked to describe the nature of the negotiations with players,

which began about a year ago, USTA Chairman of the Board and

President David Haggerty said: ”I wouldn’t say necessarily

`pressure.’ I would say `spirited discussions.”’

The USTA says it does not plan to pay for the higher prize money

with a similar leap in ticket prices.

”Frankly, we’ll take somewhat of a hit,” Smith said, ”but

it’s the right thing to do for the Open and for the players, so

we’re doing it.”

The distribution of the new prize money – how much will go to

the singles champions, for example, or to losers in the early

rounds or to doubles teams – hasn’t been decided. An announcement

is expected closer to the start of the U.S. Open, which runs from

Aug. 26 to Sept. 9.

The USTA did confirm its commitment to equal paychecks for men

and women. But it is not ready to say exactly how prize money will

go up between now and 2017, other than that it will increase each

year.

”We have a good idea, but we are still working on that,” Smith

said. ”We’ve shared our thinking (with the ATP), and I think we’re

all pretty much on the same page, but we’re working out the

details.”

In December, the USTA said it would move the women’s singles

final to Sunday and the men’s final to Monday in 2013, building in

a day of rest ahead of each title match for the first time and

moving from a 14-day tournament to 15 days. Tournament director

David Brewer told the AP that schedule will remain in place in

2014, but the U.S. Open permanently will shift things in 2015:

women’s semifinals Thursday, men’s semifinals Friday, women’s final

Saturday, men’s final Sunday.

”It’s where we all want to be,” Brewer said. ”They wanted a

14-day event. We wanted a 14-day event. So it’s good news.”

Some top male players complained the U.S. Open had been the

sport’s only Grand Slam tournament with their semifinals and final

on consecutive days. The USTA liked its old ”Super Saturday”

setup – since 1984, both men’s semifinals and the women’s final

were all on that day’s schedule at Flushing Meadows – but Brewer

acknowledged it was time to scrap it.

”We realize the game has changed and how they play the game is

different even that it was 10 years ago,” Brewer said. ”The

format we’ve had for 30 years was putting players and the

tournament in jeopardy at some point.”

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