The World’s Top Tennis Players: “Tired, Rich And Rebellious”:

If you followed or attended the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London’s 02 Arena from November 20-27, you’ll know that the tournament was won by Roger Federer (Switzerland). He beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) and in the process also received a cheque for $1,630,000. The other seven players were paid a minimum fee of $120,000 just for participating – a relatively modest addition to their current annual income. According to Forbes Magazine, Federer has earnt $47 million over the past twelve months in “prize money, exhibitions, appearance fees and endorsements (from companies such as Credit Suisse, Rolex, Gillette, Jura and Lindt). At No.2 in this category is Rafael Nadal (Spain) with $31 million for 2010-11. Among Nadal’s sponsors are Nike, Babolat, Kia Motors and Giorgio Armani. Although Novak Djokovic (Serbia) has won 57 times and lost only twice “ en route to his nine titles this year”, his earnings since 2010 have been a mere $18 million and his sponsors are “still limited” to mainly Sergio Tacchini, Head, Fitline and Telekom Srbija. In the “Sunday Times Rich Sports List 2011”, Andy Murray (Britain) is in fifteen place with career earnings so far of $15,277,688 – though this doesn’t include sponsorship arrangements. The “This Is Money” website has reported that he “is currently involved in a $24.5 million deal with Adidas lasting until 2014”.

They are all (to varying degrees) already wealthy people and will undoubtedly accumulate a great deal more before ending their careers. It would thus be reasonable to assume that they are fairly content with their circumstances. Quite the contrary: After the US Open in Flushing Meadow, New York (August 27 –September 9th), Nadal, Federer, Murray and Andy Roddick held a meeting to discuss the pressures of the ATP (Association Of Tennis Professionals) tour schedule and even the possibility of going on strike. As “The Guardian’s” Matt Scott noted in his “Sport Blog”, their seventeen (obligatory) commitments –  the four “Grand Slams” (Australian, French, US Opens and Wimbledon), four of the 11 ATP500 tour, eight Masters events and the World Tour Finals at the 02 – “mean about 20 weeks a year of competition playing time, with many more weeks of travelling, preparation and training”. The rewards for these exertions, he adds, is that “ the four have won 150 career titles and generated $145 million total prize money between them”. Although Roger Federer, who is President of the ATP Player Council, shares the concerns about issues such as the French Open starting on a Sunday, he has (says  the “Sporting Life” newspaper) dismissed as “nonsense” talk of a players’ strike against the length of the tennis calendar. Nor does he agree with ATP Vice-President Nadal that the rankings should be decided over two years (as in golf) instead of on the current weekly basis.

During the ATP Finals at the O2, however, there were clear signs of the physical and psychological effects of a long season: Murray dropped out with a groin injury after being beaten by Spain’s David Ferrer. Nadal attributed his defeat by Tsonga to being “a little more tired than usual” and having a bit less passion for the game. There have also been rumours, referred to in the London Evening Standard, that Nadal wants the ATP Finals to be moved to another country and won’t play at the Queen’s Club in 2012 (prior to Wimbledon) because he’s “losing too much (in tax) by competing in the UK for four weeks of the year”. Meanwhile, “ESPN Deportes” correspondent Jorge Viale observed in his column of 24th November that most of the players at the 02 Tournament mentioned the word “exhaustion”, with the Czech Tomas Berdych declaring that once it was over, he wouldn’t want to see or even think about tennis during his holiday break afterwards. Nadal has pulled out of his exhibition match against David Ferrer on 5th December in Mexico City – due to take place just one day after the end of the Spain-Argentina Davis Cup Finals in Seville’s Olympic Stadium from 2nd-4th December. The website “Fue Buena”, however, has indicated that Federer will go ahead with a planned series of exhibitions in South America in December. Agreements are apparently “already in place” in Colombia and Brazil. Argentina and Chile “are also options”. His likely earnings for this tour will be “at least $2 million”.








Filed under: Sports | Posted on November 30th, 2011 by Colin D Gordon

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