ATP's top stars could boycott Australian Open
The world's top male tennis players could boycott next year's Australian Open in a row over Grand Slam revenue sharing.
The sport's stars met in New York ahead of the US Open to discuss the issue and could play an alternative event, almost certainly in Dubai, if they are not given a higher percentage of tournament revenue from the four Slams.
Currently the players earn less than 20 per cent of the revenue from Grand Slams and according to the Australia Sunday Times the players would pick the Australian Open for a boycott because "by virtue of finance and geography, (it) is the least strong of the four Majors."
The issue is not the prize money offered to the winners of the Slams but rather the amount picked up by the losers in the early stages.
Across the four Slams this year, first round losers have been awarded on average just over £14,000.
Andy Roddick explained the mood of the players by saying: "Compare the percentage of revenue dedicated to prize money or salaries in tennis to other sports.
"A golfer on the PGA tour can win $11.5m in one tournament (the FedEx play-off series). I think the 15th tennis player on the all-time ATP career prize money list was $14m.
"At the Majors our prize money is still in the teens, percentage-wise, but the NBA is at a crossroads because the players earn 50 per cent of revenue.
"The guys ranked 80 to 90 to 1000 in the world aren't making the big bucks right now, and they're paying their own expenses, which you don't do on a professional sports team. That is who any action would benefit."
Wimbledon was one of the first events to act on the issue and announced an increase in prize money of 26 per cent this year.
The All-England Club chairman Philip Brook explained: "For the lower-ranked players the rising costs of professional tennis have outstripped the growth in prize money. What we are doing is taking a significant step to redress that gap that had emerged over the last five years."
However, the Australian Open has not yet followed suit and currently offers the lowest amount (£13,682) for first round losers.
The players deem the issue so important that they fined players who did not attend the meeting in New York on a sliding scale, with non-attendees from the top-10 fined $10,000.
Tennis Australia's president Stephen Healey, chief executive Steve Wood, and the Australian Open tournament director, Craig Tiley, are due to arrive in New York in the next few days for meetings of the Grand Slam committee.