• Journeyman life no financial picnic

    4/13/12 5:19 PM | Johan Lindahl
    Journeyman life no financial picnic ATP journeyman Sergiy Stakhovsky has lifted the lid on the harsh economic reality for mid-level players, with the Ukrainian demonstrating that tennis life outside of the multimillionaire elite is far from luxurious.

    Take his February-March program, where he won three ATP matches and lost five, competing in Memphis, Dubai and the Masters 1000 pair of Indian Wells and Miami.

    "I'm in the red by about $5,000 (for March)," the player who has grossed around $2.3 million in his career told a Ukrainian website.

    "This year I've been flying economy. From London to Dubai and back I flew for 1,200 euros. And we can't order tickets in advance. In addition, you can't use the (non-changeable) cheap tickets. Often, we buy the tickets on the day of departure - those are completely different numbers.

    "In a year, I spend 170,000 euros ($221,000) on 'game expenses.' Last year, tickets alone cost me 85,000 ($110,000). I grossed $428,000 plus take out 30 percent, on average, for taxes."

    The world No. 71 said that the situation among the top four - Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray - cannot be compared to the ATP rank and file. "That's simply another world. We don't exist in comparison with them.

    "Players outside the top 20 don't have any money except for prize money. Contracts, clothes – that’s all for the top 5 or top 10 players."

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This is what Rafa was fighting for. He is not so selfish as to turn a blind eye just because he is one of the lucky ones who get given everything from free accomodation, free equipment, free clothes, etc. etc. and big prize money. Journeymen are also as much part of the show as the top players, without them there won't be a tournament. You need 120 journeymen to make a slam so they deserve to be paid enough just to be there.

Roger really should step down because he is not seeking the interests of the players he is supposed to represent. I hope more players speak out so that some sction is taken. How can they go on carrying the tour and be ut of pocket for all of the careers. It is shameful.

nadline , 4/14/12 10:38 AM

^^^^ How blind can a person be?!

bleck , 4/14/12 12:31 PM

Glad to see Sergiy and Nadal bringing to light the plight of oppressed rich people everywhere.Just think,at this rate of earning,Serge may have to get a regular job in twenty to thirty years when the money runs out!

stratocast51 , 4/14/12 1:33 PM

What's really funny is the part where he says he'll probably retire from tennis at age 32 and will have to live off of that money the rest of his life. Huh? What kind of crap is that when people expect to retire from working at that age. I mean a select few like the top 4 will be in that position but to expect the majority of them to not have to work after age 32 is ridiculous. Hell Warren Buffett still works and he's richer than rich. These guys need to at least finish a college degree online or something so they can start another career after their playing days are over. At least get a degree in Business so they can learn how to invest their money properly and start a business or something.

chr18 , 4/14/12 1:48 PM

Come off it strato, You can't mention Rafa and Sergiy in the same breath. I would guess Rafa earns more through advertising alone, than Sergiy will earn in the whole of his tennis playing career. I think he has a good point. I don't think anyone below top 70 can be too well off, they've got horrendous travel expenses, hotels, insurance etc. for a start. And they can't all turn into Sports coaches and commentators when injuries/age catch up with them and they have to stop playing, at a comparatively young age compared to the rest of us.
chr18, u have a point, retiring at 32 is "ridiculous" in this day and age, but it's much harder to start off in a different career in your mid thirties, especially for a bloke, I'd say. Some friends of mine were successful teachers, took two years out to do VSO, and when they came back had to start at the bottom of the ladder again and be "managed" by people far younger with less experience. Ouch!

deuce , 4/14/12 3:56 PM

What they need to realize before they join the pro tour is that the odds of them becoming financially set from sports are against them. That being said, they have to plan accordingly by getting an education so in essence they have a back-up plan in case they don't become rich from sports. A pro sports career should be deemed as temporary. Most athletes should have some money set aside to start a business and take advantage of their 'celebrity' status to some extent rather than say starting out at an entry-level job. In any case common sense has to set in if your career turns out to be out of top 20 for most of it. The writing is on the wall for Stak and he should be prudent and realistic about his future rather than complaining that he'll be financially-strapped after he effectively stops working at the grand old age of 32.

chr18 , 4/14/12 4:41 PM

It doesn't surprise that some people actually support slave labour. I would agree that they shouldn't expect to be paid more just so that they can retire at 32 and live on their tennis earnings for the rest of their lives, but that is not really the issue. The point is that too little of the reveune, something like 6%, is paid out as prize money, who gets the 94% - all the camp followers who have never weilded a racquet in anger, and wouldn't spare the time away from their gin and tonics to get their shoes dirty.

It is shameful that those in charge know that the majority of pros cannot only break even, but end up being put of pocket, yet they intend on doing nothing about it. As Sergiy says, some players deliberately throw maches in order not to qualify for slams because it's a financial burden as far as they are concerned. Which brings me to the number of mandatory tournaments those who qualify have to play. They are not allowed not to participate due to lack of money to pay their expenses so even though they lose money they have to turn up.

Slavery was a abolished over 200 years ago, yet it is still practiced in one form or another. The least the execs can do is at least allow players to claim their expenses. Rafa has done his best, but with Roger in the pockets of the management and being 'I'm alright Jack', he is going to sit on his hands and watch others suffer financially. This is why I doubt very much that these same players knowing what Roger is like, would vote for him year after year for just about everything. It's a secret ballot, so who knows if they bother to count the votes.

nadline , 4/14/12 5:49 PM

I'll say it again, professional tennis players need a union so they can bargain with strength. Otherwise, shortsightedness and greed by tournament owners will result in future elite athletes choosing other sports for their careers (where a much greater percentage of revenue goes to the players) such as football. As a result, the game of tennis suffers.

We are only talking about the top elite 100 players in the world and in most professional sports, the Top 100 (and even more) can retire on their income alone typically - baseball, soccer, football, hockey, basketball. Supply and demand. However, a union is required to distribute revenue more equitable between owners and players. Simple really.

ATP will not help the players in this regard. Rafa realizes this. Even IF Roger wanted to make a difference, I don't think it would matter as the players on the council do not have a majority vote.

Conspirator , 4/14/12 6:26 PM

It's wrong to compare this to slavery. Slaves were forced to work. They had no choice. Pro tennis players are not. Nobody made them become pro tennis players. They can freely leave at any time and work at McDonald's if they want to. This is not slavery. I would agree that 6% is too low as far as the revenue is concerned. I would also say that the winner's check is too big relative to the others. The thing is the players should know this before they join the tour. It's called due diligence. If they really feel strongly about increasing it they need to get a majority together and strike. As a fan selfishly I don't want to see this especially if it lasts for several months like in other sports. Of course the people who share up the 94% aren't going to complain. Greed is a part of human nature. If the players are stupid enough to allow it that's sad for them. What's really sad is Stak's admission that some players throw matches to avoid playing in the majors. That's what being a tennis pro should be all about : success in the majors. Even if you are lowly ranked you should believe in yourself enough to think that you have a chance to win a round or two or more if your draw is good. If you don't believe in yourself enough then you should do something else. I couldn't imagine doing this if I were good enough to be on tour. If you don't have adequate financing you may as well not join the tour. That's just a good business decision. When enough players get fed up with this revenue sharing there will be a strike. Until then the discussion will continue I guess.

chr18 , 4/14/12 7:04 PM

The answer is not to spread the 6% more evenly it's to increase the share. If the just spread the 6% more thinly across the board, then they'll all be out of pocket. The winner's cheque has to be much bigger than the guy who only plays 1 round surely, but that does not mean that the guy who pays to get there, trains, pay his hotel accommodation and subsistence and goes out in the first round should be out of pocket.

It's no use saying that the players don't have to play tennis for a living, because you don't know how good you are going to be until you try and not everyone can be at the top of the game, but the rest of the players are also part of the show, without them we would only have tournaments like the WTF where only the top 8 play.

chr18, your hero is standing in heir way of strike action. I don't see the point of him being their president when he does not empathise with them. Of course, hw wouldn't know what it's like to pay hoetl bills and buy his own clothes and equipment, because he gets all these for free.

nadline , 4/14/12 8:40 PM

Roger has little real power ( although he certainly could do more than he is).

Without a union, strike action. becomes extremely difficult to organize.

Also many elite athletes are exposed to alternate sports when they are young and end up making such choices. For example, Rafa and Muzz could have chosen football and Rafa could have been a golfer.

Conspirator , 4/14/12 10:03 PM

At least somebody is listening oney-up-7-percent-041412

ts38 , 4/14/12 10:27 PM

Token amount won't make a difference.

Conspirator , 4/14/12 11:29 PM

ts38, thanks for the link. Glad to see some results, at least. I hope other organizsers follow suit. I know it's small, but it shows that they recognize that something has to be done and slowly they might come to a decent level of prize money. Paying their expenses should also be part of the package.

nadline , 4/15/12 12:34 PM

Despite these the harsh life of the average tennis player, it was Nadal who selfishly spearheaded the movement to shorten the ATP schedule and reduce the number of mandatory tournaments with no regard to the effects this could have on the average tennis player. The average tennis player has to enter an insane amount of tournaments every year just to earn a living. Stakhovsky himself entered 32 tournaments last year including Davis Cup matches. The smaller 500 or 250 tournaments that these players enter all depend on appearances from top players to earn their revenues which in turn provides prize money for all the tennis players. What happens if top players that draw all the audiences and crowds are not present? The tournament will not survive, and this will only make life harder for the journeyman tennis player. Federer spoke of this and tried to defend the lower ranked players in the midst of Nadal's selfish endeavours to shorten the atp schedule. Obviously, a shorter atp schedule will only benefit the top players, and Nadal knows this. Nadal did not stop to think about the hundreds of other players who depend the meagre prize money they get who have to enter 30+ tournaments a year.

Baldomir , 4/15/12 1:22 PM

Baldomir, how does reducing the number of mandatory tournaments reduce the the chances of any player playing as many tournaments as they want? There aren't as many as 32 mandatory tournaments yet Sergiy is able to play 32 in a year. Making a tournament non-mandatory doesn't mean that the tournament disappears, it just means that players who would qualify to play them don't have to. Players have to play at least 18 mandatory tournaments for which they qualify, plus the WTF. It's the compulsion to play so many that Rafa is fighting against.

MC is non-mandatory, for example.

nadline , 4/15/12 1:47 PM

It's vain for Federer to think that if he doesn't take part in a tournament no one would buy the tickets. Rafa doesn't happen to be in awe of himself like Federer is, so he doesn't think that other players are not capable of selling a tournament. I don't understand why Baldomir thinks that top players should burn out just so that tickets will sell. The fact is, the lower ranked players are worse off when the top players are in a tournament because they invariably go out early because the top players usually get to the final stages.

What people fail to appreciate is that top players, by virtue of the fact that they get to the SF or final often, play more matches at every tournament than the lower ranked players, therefore need to play less tournaments Could you imagine, Rafa, Nole and Federer playing 32 tournaments a season?

Tennis will still exist after Federer has retired. Tickets will still sell.

nadline , 4/15/12 1:58 PM

It does not limit the amount of tournaments a player can enter, but the smaller tournaments like the 250s and the 500s NEED the top players there to break even on their revenues. If the top players skip these smaller tournaments because they're no longer mandatory, then it would become very difficult for these smaller tournaments to survive. The lower ranked tennis players depend heavily on these smaller tournaments, perhaps even more than the bigger tournaments since they would usually lose there in the 1st or second round. Simply put, the absence of the top players would mean complete ruin for a small tournament since much less people would bother purchasing tickets and showing up. Do you think people pay good money to see the lower ranked players? No, only the top players fill stadiums. Without the top players, there IS NO TOURNAMENT. If the tournament doesn't survive, then there are less earning opportunities for lower ranked players. The implications are immense.

Baldomir , 4/15/12 1:58 PM

Er hello Baldomir, these 500 and 250 events are not mandatory, players can skip them and what they get are only zero pointers, no other penalties. Please go and count how many 500 or 250 events Fed, Nole, Murray and Rafa played last year. None of them met the requirements of four 500 events and two 250 events.

The tournament organizers have to pay huge appearance fees to these top guys for them to appear in their tournaments. Who knows how these affects their profits and hence the payouts to the lower ranked players who get knocked out in the first few rounds? If the tournaments rely only on the top few guys to sell their tournaments, then they're doomed to fail. It's time they think of ways to promote the sport, like promoting the young up and comers, or the second tier players.

luckystar , 4/15/12 2:24 PM

Hello luckystar. The 500 and 250 events are not mandatory, but they still have to play 18 tournaments. There are 8 mandatory masters 1000 plus 4 Grand Slams and the WTF if they qualify. That makes 13 events. The other 5 events would come from the odd 500 or 250 event that they choose to enter. If the players were not required to enter into four 500s and two 250s by making them completely optional, then I'm willing to bet that most would reduce their schedules even further. They would limit themselves to playing just the 8 masters events 4 GS and WTF.

Isn't it telling that tournament organizers would pay huge appearance fees to the top guys? That's because the money the top guys bring it most likely outweighs the cost of the appearance fees. These small tournament organizers depend on the top guys to attract their audiences. I don't know how else they're supposed to do it. Nobody really cares much about the young up and comers or the second tier players. People want to see the best of the best. Do you see the stands filled up in a match between Simon Bolleli and Andreas Seppi?

The ATP is also at fault here. Players would probably be more encouraged to enter the smaller tournaments if there were perhaps a bit more incentives. However, I don't think shortening the atp schedule would do anything to help it either, and would only make things harder for the second tier players.

Baldomir , 4/15/12 2:52 PM

You see, they can always reduce the mandatory Masters to say seven instead of eight events, if they want to help the smaller tournaments, so that the top players can have more time playing in the 500 and 250 events.

Look at the 250 events, which top four guys play them at the end of the year? They only play them in preparation for the slams, like before the AO and Wimbledon, where there's no Masters events. Nole didn't even bother with the warmup events before the AO and Wimbledon last year, choosing the Hopman cup instead. If the mandatory Masters events are not reduced, then the top players would keep skipping some of the 500 and 250 events.

Now if they're not going to promote the other players, but relying solely on Fedal, and to a lesser extent on Nole and then Murray, all these would backfire when they retire. Rafa is not being selfish, he proposes having the smaller events to be played whole year round so that the lower ranked players get to play as many tournaments as they wish.

The Masters events award 1000 points, so whether they're mandatory or not, players would still play if they need the points. Masters without Fedal or Nole, would give other players better chances of winning them, so reducing the number of mandatory Masters events should be feasible, just let the players have the freedom to skip whichever they wish, instead of downgrading some, like they do to Monte Carlo and Hamburg.

luckystar , 4/15/12 3:16 PM

I'm not entirely sure that would work. While reducing the number of mandatory Masters events would give top players more time for the 500 and 250 events. Why would they choose not to play a Masters 1000 (even if it isn't mandatory) so they can play a 250 or a 500? The points difference is just too big, especially since the top players probably care more about ranking points than prize money. Look, maybe I was a bit harsh in calling Nadal selfish. Of course, he has to look after his own health and his own body, but the proposition of a shorter schedule does seem to only serve a select few players, namely the top players. It's not even just limited to Nadal. Even Murray and Djokovic wish to just play the 13 mandatory events and just skip the smaller events.

Rafa even criticized Federer for not speaking out on the matter while the players "burn". Nadal and company have been threatening strikes and boycotts if the ATP didn't shorten its schedule since last year, I believe.

Check this article out. ill-shorter-atp-tour-benefit-all
I think it's able to articulate things better than I can.

Baldomir , 4/15/12 4:12 PM

Baldomir, what you are failing to realize is that it's counter productive for the lower ranked players to have the top players around at any tournaments because their chances of winning big prize money with a top 4 player in the same tournament are reduced immensely, so it's better for them if the top players were not in the draw, because lower ranked players will only go home out of pocket.

nadline , 4/15/12 4:17 PM

The Bleacher Report is arguing from a false premise. Rafa is not calling for a SHORTER tour, he is calling for FEWER MANDATORY tournaments which will still enable everyone to play as much as they like but not have to play 18 +1 mandatory tournaments.

nadline , 4/15/12 4:22 PM

By making seven instead of eight Masters mandatory, that means only seven best of their masters are countable towards their rankings. Now if they do well at their chosen Masters, they need not play any more Masters and so they can play the 500 events earning big appearance fees, at the same time fulfilling the 500 events obligations. Now Fedal are each paid about a million for appearing in these small events, much higher than what they'll get winning the Masters, so when their schedule permits, why won't they play them? Right now they have to play eight Masters, four slams and at the same time are expected to play four 500 and two 250 events, and the Masters schedule are fixed, making it inflexible for the top players, unless like Fed they're allowed to skip one or two Masters. If for example, they restore MC to a full Masters and allow players to pick and choose seven out of nine, more flexibilty can be obtained by the players when planning their own schedule. Players like Fed and Rafa, who are allowed to skip one Masters, that means they play only six if they choose to, so they're freed up to play some smaller tournaments and help promote those events, even though not all points from such events are countable.

luckystar , 4/15/12 5:55 PM

There are about 70 tournaments of different levels on the ATP calendar. In other words, there are plenty of non-mandatory tournaments and people like Davydenko prefer playing in a lot of them to make money.
Reducing the number of mandatory events would give many lower ranked players more opportunities to shine and make money.
Last year, it was the San Jose event which gave Raonic the opportunity to first get noticed.
It is time ATP stopped focusing on Federer and tried to do something for the lower ranked players by paying more prize money in the earlier rounds and getting more sponsors for the smaller tournaments by working with the tournament directors in marketing them.
Making some of the bigger tournaments non-mandatory would also help, as more players would get the opportunity to win them if some of the Big 4 aren't there.
Sadly, instead of marketing the smaller tournaments and lesser players, ATP and IMG (a marketing company which has controlling interest in ATP ) focus only on marketing Federer.
When Federer first rose to prominence, he was dissatisfied with IMG as it was not making sufficient efforts to market him. He left but he was wooed back in 2005 when Forstmann took over IMG ( he who placed the infamous bet on Fed in 2007. Not surprisingly this incident has been pushed under the carpet).
Subsequently the focus of both ATP and IMG(remember IMG owns tennis) has been Federer to such an extent that he has probably more endorsement money than the remaining 3 top players combined.
Roddick has managed sponsorship of 16 million because he is hugely popular in USA and sponsors want to market their stuff in the USA. No thanks to ATP.
But the lower ranked players have virtually no sponsorship. Why? Because ATP and IMG are all focused on Federer and the great man is happy to retain the status quo.
Time ATP tried to market smaller tournaments and lesser players.

holdserve , 4/15/12 6:15 PM

"Sadly, instead of marketing the smaller tournaments and lesser players, ATP and IMG (a marketing company which has controlling interest in ATP ) focus only on marketing Federer."Don't you know lying is bad for you holdserve?

stratocast51 , 4/15/12 10:26 PM

strato, your lying is bad for me? Why?
As for my statement , it is the truth as lesser players have no marketing and smaller tournaments get very little support from ATP.
Are you disputing the fact that smaller tournaments have not much money and that low ranked players have virtually zero sponsorship? If you are disputing it then I am not going to respond for it is futile trying to argue with earth-is-flat type of posters.

holdserve , 4/16/12 2:10 AM

Yes, strato, the truth hurts you but pretending it is a lie doesn't change anything. Your man thinks only about how to add more slams and more millions to himself. Nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is that he is sitting for years as the president without doing anything for the players. He adds 60 million every year to his already vast fortune ( more than 500 million). Those poor lower ranked players for whom his heart supposedly bleeds because of which he opposes all changes, do those players (below rank 100) have even one million?
Fed is so powerful that none of the other players dare to speak out. Rafa did so this year, because he felt frustrated in his role as vice president. Fed doesn't feel obliged to represent the players, Rafa feels his duty more keenly.
He immediately attracted flak with media guys like Bodo calling him a liar and claiming there were no issues with the ATP. What happened when other players spoke up and more tellingly, the ATP chief himself admitted that there were issues?
The media tards cut a sorry figure. But then I suppose since none of the players had dared to speak out, the media guys had assumed there were no issues.
Rafa paid the price for speaking up as immediately Fed called for ATP to implement the rule regarding time between points. If Fed were a true representative, instead of focusing on how much time he takes, he would have found out from the players what suits most of them and the current style of play and called for an amendment. The rule, it maybe recalled, was created to prevent McEnroe from finding time to yell at umpires.

holdserve , 4/16/12 5:15 AM

Federer needs to retire; he's had his fill of sponsorships and he is just a road block to improving the lot of other players. Of course, he can live for the rest of his life from his earnings even if he retired now so his fans can't see why things should change to enable others to be able to do the same.

However, the ATP and the ITF slapped down his call for enforcing time limits between points because they themselves acknowledged that it's silly to impose a time limit by just plucking a number from space and multiplying it by the cat's age. The game is far more physical now and players don't engage in time wasting antics anymore by engaging with the crowd. doing up their shoe laces and arguing with the umpire which was why time limits were imposed in the first place.

Anyway, the ATP and the ITF think little will change regarding time violation: tp-tour-flouting-the-time-rule/53420792/1

What is the point of Roger Federer as president of the players association?

nadline , 4/16/12 9:38 AM

Rogerhas led tennis to great hights and he still is the silent force behind a real structural growth and mutual to all players rankednhigh and low. As a matter of fact he looks qith more after the lower ranked then Nadal bwcause a two year ranking system would never benefit lower ranked players. It benefits the top players.

advan , 4/16/12 9:48 AM

Rogerhas led tennis to great hights and he still is the silent force behind a real structural growth and mutual to all players rankednhigh and low. As a matter of fact he looks qith more after the lower ranked then Nadal bwcause a two year ranking system would never benefit lower ranked players. It benefits the top players.

advan , 4/16/12 9:49 AM

advan, what planet are you on, or are you living in a parallel universe?

nadline , 4/16/12 11:44 AM

so to two post twice it must be considered the truth.
when masters are played without the top players then the value of masyers will siminish very quickly. that is a fact. so within a few years masters will cease to be.
if that is Rafa.s goal he should not have quit his job. if he is in tennis to make it better for low ranked players he should try to become the pres. of players council. he is the longest number 2 in tennis because he wanted to catch Fes but wjen he doesnot get his way with 1 or 2 points he cries in media and throws the towel. Icall that an act of coward.

advan , 4/16/12 11:46 AM

wow some of these posters here really must hate Federer. they convienantly forget the foulplay feom the spaniard to attack Roger in his pre tournement presstalk. I wonder what he will crie about this time. o wait Roger is not playing. So it will have to wait a few weeks for Nadal to get attention back to Fed.

advan , 4/16/12 1:43 PM

You are right holdserve there are a lot of "the earth is flat" posters on here. That really did make me smile!

schatz , 4/16/12 9:23 PM

it is evident that a two year ranking and making masters non mandatory is killing the game of tennis. So we should be gratefull with his resignation. that was his best decision to become a quitter outside of the tenniscourts.

advan , 4/16/12 10:35 PM

Don't be a fish. Don't rise to the bait.

Rafa to win MC!!!! Vamos!!!!!

Conspirator , 4/16/12 10:47 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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