by Martyn WOOD
NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Roger Federer added his voice to growing calls for increased prize money for players “in the lower ranks” after battling into the third round of the US Open on Wednesday.
A sizeable number of top men’s players are backing a petition seeking a larger slice of tournament revenues at Grand Slams and other events, with those outside the top 100 struggling to make money or break even.
“I do believe the challenger players and also maybe qualifying and second-round losers should get more,” said Federer, who rejoined the ATP player council along with Rafael Nadal this month.
“So I think if there should be increases it shouldn’t be at the top anymore. I feel like we have reached a pretty good level there. So, yeah, I think that’s going to be what we’re going to fight for.”
Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, another council member who has spoken out on the need for greater transparency and better revenue distribution, says only the top 100 ATP Tour players make money because only 14 percent of the sport’s revenues goes back to the players.
“It would be nice if the players could also survive on the challenger tour in the lower ranks and not just at the very top,” Federer said.
“Even though I’m all for it shouldn’t be a losers’ tour, but they also sacrifice a lot of their time and they work equally hard as we do at the top. That hopefully we’re going to get that right hopefully, as well, in the next sort of five to 10 years.”
‘Proper opinion’ vital
Controversy has arisen over the past months concerning various issues in the sport, with ATP player council president Novak Djokovic often on the opposite side of discussions from Nadal and Federer.
Splits widened at Wimbledon when Djokovic was taken to task over his relationship with the disgraced Justin Gimelstob.
Former player Gimelstob, who has sat on the player council, pleaded no contest to assault charges in Los Angeles earlier this year for attacking a man in front of his wife and children at Halloween in 2018.
Djokovic has come under fire for refusing to rule out a possible return to the board for Gimelstob.
“The worst is in any politics or any tennis politics is if you just don’t talk,” said Federer, after rallying to dispatch 99th-ranked Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 under the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“Being back on the council is good because I get all the information. I think that is important for me to give a proper opinion. It also brings Novak, Rafa, and me closer together, naturally, to be in a room.”
“But then also away from it, we can’t prepare for meetings like amateurs and just not talk to each other and then walk up to the meetings and just, like, ‘So what’s going on?’ And start taking decisions and voting and then it gets personal.
“So we need to be well prepared, and for that we need to meet and talk, and we will do that moving forward.”
© Agence France-Presse