The ATP Tour Board of Directors passed on a proposal by the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells to increase its prize money by at least $800,000, in which most of the increase would be distributed among winners of the first three rounds. Tournament CEO Raymond Moore told the Desert Sun that the event offered to increase prize money by 29 percent or $1.6 million ($800,000 would also go to WTA players), but the ATP board voted 3-3, with CEO Brad Drewett abstaining.
A source told TENNIS.com that the tournament representatives on the ATP Board voted against the increase, with the player representatives voting for it.
“This is a surprise to us,” Moore told the Desert Sun. “We don’t have an explanation. We are waiting for the ATP to get back to us… I’m staggered, but we’ll see what (Drewett) has to say.”
Earlier this year, the Indian Wells tournament increased prize money by $1 million, but did not follow the ATP’s normal prize-money distribution formula, which essentially doubles the prize money for every round won, and that any year-on-year increase must be applied at the same rate for each round, so growth is equal for all players. Indian Wells followed that formula until the quarterfinals, when cashes jumped from $43,250 to 100,000, a 131 percent increase. The tournament then doubled the prize money for semifinalists to $200,000, increased the runner-up’s purse to $500,000, and doubled that for the champion, who earns $1 million.
It is unclear how much Indian Wells proposed to give players in the first three rounds of 2013, but Moore said there would be small raises for the quarterfinalists and semifinalists, but no increases for the runner-up or champion. The ATP Players Council has been advocating for a greater share of prize money to go to lower-rounds winners.
In a statement e-mailed to TENNIS.com, spokesperson Kate Gordon said:
“We welcome tournaments increasing prize money, however, in this case, a tournament is proposing a distribution that is not in line with the ATP rules that players and tournaments themselves have agreed, and which every other tournament on Tour follows. The ATP distribution model is designed in part to protect the middle ranked players’ share of prize money, and more evenly distribute prize money throughout every round in a tournament. We would be happy to approve a prize money increase, if it complies with ATP rules on distribution.”