Tennis players aim to double the prize money at nine ATP Masters events next year

The outgoing president of the ATP Player Council Roger Federer. (Oliver Krato, EPA)
The outgoing president of the ATP Player Council Roger Federer. (Oliver Krato, EPA)

Tennis can be a very lucrative sport. In fact, it ranks just behind football and soccer in terms of earnings, according to Top End Sports, which surveyed salaries of top athletes in various sports between 1990 and 2010 to come up with its list. (Incidentally, basketball, boxing, auto racing and golf are placed first through fourth in the rankings.)

Not all tennis players are satisfied, though, at least when it comes to payouts from the ATP Masters 1000 events. Eight of nine tournaments under that classification are mandatory, which means they attract all the top names, compared to smaller 250 and 500 events, which struggle for audiences and sponsors. The ATP Player Council has noticed this and have spotted a trend — 1000 tournaments have been attracting larger audiences and, thus, earning larger revenue streams.

“Those tournaments have really thrived. So we hope we can be compensated adequately,” Council Vice President Erik Butorac, a No. 27-ranked doubles player, told ESPN.

More specifically, writes Sports Business Daily, ATP players want to nearly double the prize money paid out at the nine 1000-level tournaments. As of right now, the 2014 Masters 1000 tournaments are set to pay out the following amounts, according to the ATP World Tour:

  • Sony Open Tennis in Miami: $4,720,380
  • BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells: $5,240,015
  • Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati: $3,079,555
  • Mutua Madrid Open: 3,671,405 Euros ($4,926,346)
  • BNP Paribas Masters in Paris: 2,884,675 Euros ($3,870,700)
  • Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome: 2,884,675 Euros ($3,870,700)
  • Shanghai Rolex Masters: $3,849,445
  • Rogers Cup in Toronto: $3,146,920
  • Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (optional tournament): 2,884,675 Euros ($3,870,700)

Doubling those pots is much easier said than done.

“Most sports, they have a union,” Butorac told ESPN. “But with us having a bipartisan board, it is a different battle.”

Who leads this bipartisan board, which is composed of both players and tournament representatives, can also influence outcomes of demands. But with the highly decorated Roger Federer resigning from position of Council President, it’s unclear who will lead it next, and whether that individual will carry the same degree of influence. The new president will be elected at the U.S. Open, which starts Aug. 25 and runs through Sept. 8, ESPN reports.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, ATP players will have to wait until next year to push through any proposed changes. Prize money agreements aren’t up for renewal until 2015, ESPN writes.

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.

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Marissa Payne · August 4, 2014