News broke earlier this week that the Indian Wells Masters 1000 tournament and its billionaire owner Larry Ellison proposed to raise the event’s prize money level by $800K (or $1.6M for both draws) with money targeted toward the opening rounds.
The WTA appears to be on board with the increase for the moment – they vote next month – but the men’s tour denied it leaving tournament CEO Raymond Moore scratching his head, as reported by the Desert Sun.
To Moore’s surprise, the men’s ATP Tour did not approve the increase in a vote Tuesday.
“This is a surprise to us,” Moore said. “We don’t have an explanation. We are waiting for the ATP to get back to us.”
Moore said the ATP board voted 3-3, with CEO Brad Drewett abstaining from the vote. Since hearing the news, Moore said he sent an email to Drewett to see if the tour would set conditions for approval, but had not heard back.
With the ATP players in a money fight with the Slams, why wouldn’t they want the same from their own events, especially with the increase going to the early rounds? Roger Federer, head of the ATP’s player council, says he’ll dig into the matter to find out why.
“As long as I’m the president of the Player Council, I won’t discuss with you guys in the media,” Federer reminded the press yesterday. “What I can tell you is I will investigate and make sure that the decision they’ve taken is, indeed, the right one. If it’s not, then obviously we need to talk about it, what we can do in the future.
“Maybe some people don’t understand it. It’s important for me to really get all the information so I can also give my opinion and speak to the fellow council members, because, like you mentioned, it’s an important issue here.”
Meanwhile, Czech Tomas Berdych was fully supportive of the increase. “I don’t see any reason why not to go for it,” he said. “That’s what we all looking for. If there is someone who is able to increase it, bring something more to us players, then I don’t see any reason why someone could be on the side and saying, No, it’s not good idea, or whatever.”
The outspoken Sergiy Stakhovsky also weighed in on the decision, calling it “absurd”.
“Hard to understand the ATP decision on Indian Wells …don’t allow tournament to increase their prize money is absurd..,” he tweeted.
The Ukrainian did point out that tournaments are required to follow a specific prize money distribution formula, though Indian Wells already veered slightly from those rules this past year. “In the ATP Rulebook there is a %key for PM distribution for every TIER of Tournaments..,” he wrote in a tweet.
In a statement, ATP Tour Spokesperson Kate Gordon confirmed the distribution rules. “We welcome tournaments increasing prize money. However, in this case, a tournament is proposing a distribution that is not in line with the ATP rules that players and tournaments themselves have agreed to, and which every other tournament on tour follows. The ATP distribution model is designed in part to protect the middle-ranked players’ share of prize money, and more evenly distribute prize money throughout every round in a tournament. We would be happy to approve a prize money increase if it complies with ATP rules on distribution.”
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