Monday, September 3, 2012

Tennis Australia taking Open boycott threat seriously

Updated August 28, 2012 15:36:13

Tennis Australia says it is confident it can resolve a pay dispute that has sparked threats of a boycott of the Australian Open.

Tennis Australia director Craig Tiley has confirmed reports that some international players are threatening to boycott the January grand slam over the dispute.

Mr Tiley has told ABC Local Radio he is taking the threat seriously, but does not believe it will come to that.

"We're confident that the players will be in Melbourne in January and we'll be working through in the coming months to put forward some solution towards compensation," he said.

The threatened boycott is less about the top prize earners and more about boosting payouts to those who exit in early rounds and the struggle of players outside the world's top 60 or so to make ends meet.

Players pay much of their own expenses and travel. Those without well-paying sponsorship deals must still make a global trek to sustain their careers.

Mr Tiley says the players do have legitimate grievances about their pay.

"The problem is that the players that are ranked about 100 and lower are not making sufficient money to support themselves right throughout the year," he said.

"It's not necessarily just a grand slam problem, it's an all sport problem and I think the entire sport needs to sit down and help address the issue, because at the lower ranks of our sport the prize money hasn't changed in 25 years and that's just not good enough."

London's Sunday Times filed the initial reports about the boycott, saying the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), which governs the men's game worldwide, is considering staging an alternative tournament in Dubai.

The ATP has since denied the reports, with a spokeswoman saying the organisation has been "clear and repetitive" in telling players it will continue to lobby the grand slams to address player compensation issues.

An ATP players meeting, including ATP players council president and world number one Roger Federer, has been held in New York ahead of tonight's (AEST) start of the US Open.

Federer spoke without mentioning a potential boycott, making it clear he would not reveal any details of what was discussed.

"It's about just getting back to the players, making sure everybody is on the same page and understanding what the situation is," he said.

"It's not only the grand slam issue, but many other issues always pending.

"Finally we really have engaged players and I think that's a very good thing. [The] other part is managing that. It's not always the easiest thing.

"[There's] obviously always going to be rumours flying, but as long as I'm president of the player council it's always going to stay behind closed doors what exactly has been talked about.

"We're on the right track for many things. Obviously we try to solve it the best way we can for all parties involved on all issues really."

Andy Roddick, the 2003 US Open champion, spoke about the issue last month in a teleconference, citing the wide gap between percentage of player revenues in the NBA and grand slam tennis.

"The NBA players were upset because they had to come down from a 57 per cent revenue share," Roddick said.

"The research at the US Open (showed) we were down at 13 per cent of revenue (that) went back to the players.

"It just seems skewed in comparison to some of the other sports.

"We certainly realise how lucky we are but I think we also realise that we're the product."


Tags: australian-open, tennis, sport, melbourne-3000, vic, australia

First posted August 27, 2012 10:19:08

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