Novak Djokovic’s call for more money is right one if it goes to lower-ranked players

Novak Djokovic believes players don’t get a big enough cut of the revenue from grand slam tournaments.

OPINION: So, Novak Djokovic called a meeting of players to discuss, well we’re not really sure what exactly … there have been rumours of boycotts, breakaway unions and demands for more prize money.

Considering Djokovic has prize earnings of over US$100 million (NZ$138m), demands for more money sound rather greedy.

But the point that has been made is that the grand slam tournaments are only awarding players a tiny proportion of their tournament revenue, estimated at around nine per cent, so it rather looks as though they are being the greedy ones.


Dustin Brown made ends meet by travelling to tournaments in a camper van and stringing other players’ racquets.

Some players are also making the valid point that the lesser players need more financial help. It’s not before time.

Inside the top 30 or so, tennis is an extremely lucrative career. Outside the top 100, players struggle to make ends meet.  In fact, many actually make a loss.

First-round losers at the Aussie Open make A$60,000, but before you say “that sounds pretty good,” consider this. Their expenses are huge – air fares, hotels, rackets, stringing, clothing and coaches.

Obviously, a player should ideally travel with a half-decent coach but that clocks up nearly double in the expenses department. Without a coach, let alone an entourage of physios, trainers etc, the tour is a lonely place.

Players are wary of getting too close to one another; after all, they may be a future opponent and it’s difficult to hype yourself up to beat an opponent, let alone a friend.

German player Dustin Brown got round the money problem by buying a campervan to travel to tournaments and to sleep in, supplementing his meagre income on the ATP Challenger Tour by stringing other players’ rackets. It was the only way he could afford to be on the tour. This is the man who thrashed Nadal on Wimbledon centre court in the first round of The Championships in 2015.

And take two female players at very different ends of the spectrum:

Aleksandra Wozniak was injured and, while recuperating, her ranking plummeted, as did any monetary support. In 2009 she was ranked No 21 in the world. Today, after her layoff, she is now no 299. Unable to gain direct entry into top tier tournaments with decent prize money she has been forced to play on the lower Pro Tour circuit. She’s now 30-years-old and, one would imagine, considering retirement rather than carry on attempting to claw her way back up.

Hungarian player Fanny Stollar is just 19 with a ranking of 214. Unlike Wozniak, she has a travelling coach and agent as well as a small contribution from the Hungarian Federation. But her expenses massively outstrip her earnings. She is lucky to have parents able to give her financial help.

Jerome Palaz, a former Swiss player, retired at the age of 24.

“I just couldn’t afford to carry on” he says.

“Paying my coach swallowed up most of my prize money. In the end I just got too depressed by it all. The Spanish players get a huge amount of financial support compared to the Swiss. I was born in the wrong country.”

He still travels the world with his work but as a model. He’s lucky. He has the looks.

So yes, Novak and others, insist the slams pay out more but ask them to direct the vast majority towards the lower-ranked players to give them a chance to break through.

It’s called looking after the future of the game.

 – Stuff

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