New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic denies that she asked for an appearance fee from the upcoming ASB Classic in Auckland, the nation’s only WTA event.
The New Zealand Herald reports that tournament director Karl Budge says he told the world No. 47 they could not afford an appearance fee but would try to put together some kind of package for committing to her home event. It is highly probable that the tournament’s marquee attractions, former No. 1s Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams, are getting appearance fees.
“I never asked for money, that’s not correct,” Erakovic told the newspaper. “The reason I think this has come about was because I suggested some players have been paid to play in the past and I wasn’t. I’m not asking for money but I don’t want to be taken for granted either. I love to play at home in front of family, friends and supporters. I do it for the right reasons but compare that with Canada, for example. If you were a Top 50 player in their events, you would probably be paid to play.”
Budge countered: “My impression was they were looking for an appearance fee because Marina can go and get four times the prize money at the Brisbane International [played the same week]. To be fair to Marina, it’s not all about the money. There are valuable ranking points at stake too, which, if she went well, means she could be a protected seed in Melbourne [at the Australian Open].”
Brisbane, which offers $1 million in overall prize money to just $250,000 from Auckland, is a WTA Premier 700-level tournament while Auckland is a lower-level, WTA International-level event. The winner of Brisbane receives 470 points while the Auckland winner gets 200 points.
“We have a limited budget so we’ve got to be strategic in how we spend our money,” Budge added. It was a pretty frank discussion ... Marina had a strong case. She’s won New Zealand’s first WTA title since 1989 [at Memphis] and had two third-round appearances at Grand Slam events [Wimbledon and Roland Garros]. If I was her agent, I’d be requesting an appearance fee, too.”