Nov 15

Indian Wells and the Prize Money Matter (Part II)

Brad Drewett balances carefully atop the ATP structure

“In this case we have a tournament proposing a distribution that is not in line with the model that players and tournaments themselves have agreed, and which every other tournament on Tour follows. Our rules require any increases to be applied at the same rate for each round, so growth is equal for players. This model has been developed by the players and tournaments working together over many years”

This quote, from ATP Tour President Brad Drewett, speaking to Britain’s free Metro paper, has been given as the reason for the rejection of the prize money increase offered by Indian Wells to follow up the 2012 changes, where the winner was able to pick up an eye-watering (and publicity courting) US$1mn for taking down the Masters Series title.

There is one immediate problem with this statement. There isn’t a rule specifying prize money breakdowns in the ATP Tour’s extensive rulebook. If you ever take the time to plough through it (and hopefully you have better things to do) the rule book offers a lot of advice, especially when it comes to exactly where to put your tournament logo and the ATP logo on your promotional literature for the event so they don’t clash too much.

It also make sure the events pay their ATP Tour fees nice and early.

The only reference to the proportions of prize money comes with reference to Exhibit J at the end of the rule book (3.09 to be precise, page 37)

“Each ATP World Tour and ATP Challenger Tour tournament is required to offer and pay as part of its financial commitment not less than the on-site prize money shown in Exhibit J plus hotel accommodations, unless otherwise determined by the ATP.”

But Exhibit J (and this sounds increasingly like a trial) is merely a list of the agreed prize money for each event, rather than any structure to say that set percentages must be allocated to set rounds, or anything easily understood as a “formula”. Unfortunately, comparing like with like here is very difficult, as there are just the two 96-player Masters Series draws, Indian Wells and Miami.

If you’re going to win one, make sure it’s Indian Wells

The US$1mn for the Indian Wells winner took 26.8% of the total singles prize pot. For Miami, the figure is 21.6%.

The $500,000 for the runner up at Indian Wells is of course 13.4% – for Miami the figure is 10.5%

So the Indian Wells finalists get more than 40% of the cash, Miami just over 32%,

At the other end of the scale, the 32 first round losers combined cheques were 6.6% of the Indian Wells prize fund and in Miami 8% of the pool.

Comparing the two tournaments leaves a significant disparity in terms of the two money going to the finalists and the losers, something Indian Wells reportedly wanted to correct.

But go down the scale, and there IS a formula applied, down to one tenth of one percent. When you examine the ATP 250 tournaments with 28 man draws, the winner gets 23.4% of the singles pool – in every one. The runner up, 12.3% and so on. It’s the same from Houston to Bangkok to Sao Paolo – the world over.

So what do the numbers the say? The higher up the scale you go and the more famous the players are the more loosey goosey you can get with your prize money distribution – as long as it’s pumped towards the big names.

No wonder the middle ranks remain with their mutinous mutterings.




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