1/18/13 4:55 PM | Johan Lindahl
The Australian Open's pre-emptive strike in raising early-round prize money by a healthy 30-plus percent may prove to be a wise move as discontent with the rival US Open continues among players.
Melbourne officials tacked on a generous $4 million to their prize pot, meaning that first round losers walked with almost $30,000 for their work on court. In addition, the tournament thoughtfully tucked a cheque for $1,000 into each player's welcome kit, just to cover any little incidentals.
The Americans have imitated the prize money rise - but have added a huge disruptive proviso which has drawn fire from the men. The event is trying to force-feed a controversial and widely disliked plan to stage the men's final on a Monday, running the event into a third week.
The concept has been roundly condemned by players and could lead to action. Even classic New Yorker Justin Gimelstob, a former ATP journeyman who has landed on the board of the sanctioning body, has his doubts about the Open pulling off its intended power play, which includes a Monday final this autumn as a "test."
"I love the US Open, but if the USTA truly believes they can wait it out and hope they can weather the storm this year," he told the New York Times, "there could be catastrophic consequences for both sides, and that is what I truly hope doesn't happen.
"Even without the Monday final, it still would have been disappointing, that amount of money."
In the land of the infinite budget deficit, the US federation has proposed a plan worthy of any politician, "promising" to raise prize money by 75 percent by 2017.
"We are the biggest tennis market in the world still," sniffed a top Open official whose organization has lost or is losing Memphis and Los Angeles ATP tournaments as they move to fresh and growing markets in South America.
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