The prospects of a strike aimed at Grand Slam tournaments hardened here last night after players backed calls for action over what they consider to be inadequate prize money. Although it is believed there are no plans for any disruption at the Australian Open, which begins here tomorrow, there was strong support at a meeting of the men's players for the idea of taking action in the future. The next two Grand Slams, the French Open and Wimbledon, could be the ones to suffer.
Talk of a strike first surfaced at last year's US Open, where Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick expressed the players' unhappiness with the prize money on offer at the year's final Grand Slam. The US Open generates revenues in excess of £130 million but only 13 per cent of that is paid back to the players in prize money.
The grievances aired cover a range of issues, including the length of the season. The calendar issues are being addressed within the Association of Tennis Professionals, who run the men's tour, while the dissatisfaction with prize money is being focused on the Grand Slams.
Thanks to the strength of the Australian dollar, prize money at the Australian Open is the biggest in the history of tennis. The prize pool totals £17.5m, with £1.5m going to the singles champions. The players are believed to be concerned about the rewards for those lower down the pecking order and those unable to play because of illness or injury.