- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) - Following in the footsteps of the French Open and Wimbledon, the U.S. Open is increasing singles prize money by 11 percent this year, with the biggest boosts for players who lose in early rounds.

The men’s and women’s champions will each receive $1.9 million, a $100,000 bump from 2011, with the chance to earn additional money based on performances in other North American hard-court tournaments this summer.

Total prize money goes from $23.7 million to $25.5 million, the U.S. Tennis Association announced Wednesday.

Payouts are rising 21 percent in the first round of singles, 19 percent in the second round. That was the model the two preceding major tournaments used after leading players Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray met with Grand Slam officials in March and lobbied them to provide increases for lower-ranked players who can have trouble covering the costs of training and traveling.

In April, French Open officials announced total prize money would go up 7 percent this year, with the largest increases, proportionally, for those who lose early. Money for a first-round loss went up 20 percent at Roland Garros.

Less than two weeks later, the All England Club announced it would increase the prize money at Wimbledon, which ended Sunday, by 10 percent overall, with a majority of the cash directed to help lower-ranked players.

“We recognize the mounting financial pressures associated with competing on the global professional tennis circuits and especially for those who do not reach the second week of the U.S. Open,” USTA President Jon Vegosen said in a statement. “We believe the additional prize money, as well as how it will be strategically distributed, will help alleviate some of the pressure.”

The U.S. Open starts Aug. 27.