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Publicly, male players have been slow to back Simon.

“It’s just a matter of who believes what, and then that is an endless debate,” Roger Federer said after his second-round win on Wednesday.

Malisse said he shared Simon’s view but “I’d rather not get into it. I’d rather he gets into it.”

Andy Roddick said the whole debate should not become “a gender issue” and that tennis is a business like any other.

“I’m sure there’s a way to figure out who people are coming to watch,” Roddick said. “I’m sure there’s TV ratings to look at. I’m sure there are ample numbers out there to dissect. As any business goes, you look at those numbers and then decide where it goes from there.”

Andy Murray said “there’s a lot of things the guys do agree on,” and pointed out that it’s easier for women to play both singles and doubles at the Grand Slams because they play fewer sets.

At the Grand Slam tournaments, men play best-of-five-set matches; women play best-of-three. At most other events, all matches for both genders are best-of-three.

“It’s not always just about equal pay, it’s about the way the men’s and women’s tournaments differ,” he said.

Simon faced a series of pointed questions from reporters after his loss, with one asking whether he felt he had delivered an entertaining performance in falling in straight sets.

“That doesn’t change anything,” said Simon, who was elected last week to a two-year term on the ATP Player Council. “My point of view doesn’t depend on my result.”

He added that women should be entitled to more prize money than men if the women’s game becomes “more interesting” _ and didn’t argue against Sharapova’s point.

Maria is more famous than me. I know it. She deserves to earn more money than me,” he said.