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Players say prize money increase a positive step
Now ranked 35th and with a growing family to feed, Baghdatis is among those happy to see the prize money go up in the early rounds at the majors. Since losing the 2006 Australian Open final to Roger Federer and making the semifinals at Wimbledon later that year, he hasn’t gone further than the quarterfinals at 22 majors. He advanced to the second round in a late five-set win Monday.
“I think it’s great for the sport. We’ll see more competition coming if the prize money comes up,” he said ahead of the tournament. “Because I think a young kid who has no money, if he gets to four Grand Slams in a year he can invest for his future, and I think that’s very important.”
Murray, the reigning U.S. Open champion, has seen both sides of the player compensation debate. As a Grand Slam winner and a permanent fixture in the top four since 2008, he has amassed almost $25 million in prize money. He travels with a team of support people including a conditioning expert and often with coach Ivan Lendl, an eight-time major winner. That all costs money.
His older brother, Jamie Murray, ranked 78th in doubles, made just under $100,000 last year.
“I think, to be honest, the issues with tennis go a lot deeper than the ATP Tour,” he said. “The Challenger Tour prize money hasn’t changed in years. Futures tournaments, I don’t think their prize money has changed the last 20 to 30 years.
“That’s what is stopping guys playing tennis early rather than the guys that are on the main tour stopping early. So the problem is not so much with the main tour. It’s the smaller events. “
Russia’s Alex Bogomolov Jr., who helped highlight the threat of a strike last year with a late-night tweet, said the increase in compensation in Melbourne is a positive step, but players won’t have the power to force changes like this at other tournaments without a union similar to the players’ unions in the NBA and NFL.
“For me, the only reason I’m still a little sad is by the time I retire, the revenue split will be 50-50. That’s the way it’s heading,” he said after his first-round loss on Monday.
“It’s going to take years and years for that to happen. What else can we do? We do our job, we play as hard as we can and we are happy that people come to watch us play,” he said.
AP Sports Writer John Pye contributed to this report.
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