Australian Open tennis feels heat over player pay

After his victory, Nadal was asked about the brewing war behind the scenes after players council president Novak Djokovic, who kicks off his tournament on Tuesday, reportedly voted against extending the tenure of ATP chief executive Chris Kermode at the annual players meeting in Melbourne over the weekend, as the players wrestle for greater control of the game.

“I believe that it is not good to have changes all the time because it is difficult to develop a good project of work if we have changes every 3 or 4 years,” Nadal said.

“So I believe that Chris [Kermode] probably did some good work out there, and I don’t see him doing negative things or enough negative things to not continue in a position today where he probably knows more of the situation in the world of tennis better than a new president.”

Tennis Australia’s Tiley, touted as a possible successor to Kermode, also emphasised the tournament’s record high prizemoney of $62.5 million, up 14 per cent from last year, as he sought to play down player tensions. Men’s and women’s singles champions will both take home $4.1 million this year and Tiley said more money was flowing to the lower ranks.

New star: Australia’s Alex de Minaur makes a forehand return against Portugal’s Pedro Sousa during their first-round match at the Australian Open. KIN CHEUNG

“There is always conversations amongst the players about the leadership of their own tour”, Tiley said.

“We’ve played our part,” Tiley said. “We doubled the prizemoney basically for the first-round qualifier losers, our goal which we finally reached this year is no player will ever leave Australia having it cost them money even if they never win a match,” he said.

Tennis Australia’s new heat stress scale which takes account of air temperature, radiant heat, humidity and wind speed passed three on a scale of one to five on Monday. The temperature is expected to reach the high 30s on Tuesday and if the scale reaches four, players will have access to an extended break while play is suspended when the scale reaches five.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley says the players are well paid. Luis Enrique Ascui
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic is in the middle of a power play over control of the game. Mark Schiefelbein