Early-round losers at next month's Australian Open will receive a significant pay rise after officials released the breakdown of the biggest purse in tennis history on Thursday.
Responding to player demands for a bigger slice of the pie, Tennis Australia has averted a boycott of the opening grand slam of the year with rich rewards for the sport's battlers.
While the 2013 singles champions at Melbourne Park will collect monster cheques for $2.43 million, first, second and third-round losers will also be big winners after considerable prize money increases.
First-round losers will receive $27,600, representing a 32.7 per cent boost from 2012; second-round casualties will pocket $45,500 (up 36.6 per cent); and third-round losers will pick up $71,000, a 30 per cent increase from the $54,625 this year.
With a record total purse of $30 million on offer, prize money for the fourth round, quarter-finals and semis has gone up by an average of more than 14 per cent.
Prize money for the three rounds of qualifying has also increased almost 15 per cent, while first-round doubles prize money has increased more than 30 per cent.
Players' council representatives Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were central to the push for more money, arguing that the players were the entertainers and deserving of more.
The game's biggest names agreed it was vital for the lower-ranked players who help make up the 128-strong grand slam draws to receive extra prize money.
Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley has always considered this a reasonable compromise.
"Our motivation is to make a major contribution toward helping ensure professional tennis players can make a decent living," said Tiley, the Australian Open tournament director.
"As we have said in the past, it is a real issue and needs to be urgently addressed throughout the sport.
"That is why the biggest increases are in the earlier rounds, qualifying and doubles which in effect rewards a lot of the lower-ranked players for their achievements which, by the way, should not be undersold.
"To just reach the main draw of a slam, a professional tennis player has to be among the top 100 in what is one of, if not the most, competitive professional sport in the world.
"At the same time, we also still want to continue to recognise the incredible drawing power and contribution of the top players."
AAPTags: sport, tennis, australian-open, melbourne-3000, vic, australia First posted December 20, 2012 18:54:02