Aussie Open increases prize money
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Australian Open organizers said Wednesday that the tournament will increase its prize money by AU$3 million ($2.8 million) next year to bring overall player compensation to AU$33 million ($31 million).
In keeping with player demands to see a larger slice of Grand Slam revenues, all four of the sport's most prestigious tennis tournaments have greatly increased their prize money in the past two years.
Wimbledon now offers about 22.6 million pounds ($36.5 million), while the US Open increased its purse to $34.3 million and the French Open went up to 22 million euros ($29.7 million).
The Australian Open increase comes after organizers already raised total prize money by AU$4 million ($3.7 million) for the 2013 tournament, the largest annual jump in prize money in the tournament's history.
Australian Open organizers did not break down the prize money to be awarded per round at the 2014 tournament, but men and women will receive equal amounts as in previous years.
Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka are the defending champions at Melbourne Park. Tournament director Craig Tiley said Wednesday at the official launch for the Jan. 13-26 tournament that he expects the top 100 ranked men and women to play.
Rafael Nadal, the 2009 Australian Open champion, missed this year's tournament due to injury and illness.
"It's great, we've got our defending champions Novak and Victoria (Azarenka) back, they've done extremely well here," Tiley said. "Having Rafa back, he's excited and wants to come back and play."
Organizers also said Wednesday that Margaret Court Arena, the third-largest spectator court, will have a fixed roof in place for the 2014 tournament and it will be fully retractable in time for the 2015 event.
Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena at Melbourne Park already have retractable roofs.
Pete Sampras, a 14-time Grand Slam winner, will also return to Melbourne in January for ceremonies to mark the first of his two Australian Open titles 20 years ago, organizers said.