US Open chiefs bow to player pressure
Players get more money, more rest
U.S. Open tennis chiefs have taken note of player complaints and made significant changes for 2013, including record prize money and an extra rest day for finalists.
The tournament's women's final will now be held on a Sunday and the men's title match on a Monday, while the total prize purse will increase by $4 million.
"I'm pleased that the USTA has modified the U.S. Open schedule to include a day of rest between the semifinals and final," defending men's champion Andy Murray said on the New York grand slam's website.
"Together with the prize money increase, it's good that they've taken on board the players' concerns."
Women's champion Serena Williams was also happy with the changes, which mean the female players will play their last-four matches in Friday's afternoon session.
"Both the prize money increase and the addition of a day of rest are great for the players," the American said. "These moves make the tournament stronger than it's ever been for all players."
Previously the finals had been held the day after the semis, prompting criticism that the schedule favored players seeded in one half of the draw who get an extra 24 hours' recovery time.
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The men's final has actually been played on a Monday for the past four years due to weather disruptions earlier in the tournament, which has affected players who have been involved in the Davis Cup teams final the following weekend.
The new schedule means that there will be no evening session on the second Saturday of the two-week tournament.
"We recognize the increased physicality required to compete at the highest level of the sport, and we have responded to the players' request for a scheduled day of rest between the singles semifinals and finals," said USTA president Jon Vegosen.
"The record increase in U.S. Open prize money and the changes in the next year's schedule are aimed at rewarding the players' talents and accommodating the rigors of the modern professional game."
The USTA increased the base prize money by $2 million this year, and the 2013 doubling of that figure will mean a 34% increase since 2011.
There will be a total $29.5 million on offer, plus a bonus pool of $2.6 million based on results in the seven-week North American swing of men's and women's hard-court tournaments leading up to the season's closing grand slam at Flushing Meadows.
Players have been pressing for a better distribution of prize money among the players knocked out in the early rounds of the four grand slams, and the USTA said it is in talks with them about how best to do this.
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