Dominic Thiem has opposed providing more funding for lower-ranked tennis players, prompting further debate about what various levels of the sport earn.
The sport's governing organizations have announced they will provide $6 million in funds for the game's lower ranks during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, leading players Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, in a recent letter published by Sports Illustrated, asked the ATP Top 100 players to donate between $30,000 and $5,000 each in a fund for players between 250 and 700 in the rankings. Speaking in an online conversation, Djokovic said there have been "differences of opinion" among the players.
Australian player John Millman has called for more prize money to be given through the ranks during regular competition.
Asked about the player fund and Millman's comments in an interview with Krone, Thiem did not agree it was an issue.
"None of the players are starving. [The top players] all had to fight our way up the rankings," said Thiem in German during the online conversation. "I've seen players on the ITF Tour who don't 100 percent commit to the sport. Many are quite unprofessional. I don't see why I should give them money.''
On prize money, the Austrian indicated he did not favor significant changes.
"There is no profession where you have a guarantee of success and high earnings at the start of your career," he said.
The Australian Open finalist, who has earned more than $1.5 million this season, also suggested he did not want to donate to players.
"I would rather give to people and institutions who really need it," he said.
But others argued that players starting their careers need help while the tours are on hold.
"If this would have happened then, it would have cost me my career," said Germany's Dustin Brown, recalling his days stringing racquets and famously traveling the tour in a camper.
Startin In 2004 I Lived In A Camper, Surviving From Week To Week With The Money I Made... Losing First Round In A 10k Was 117,50$ - Tax... Because Of This I Was Also Stringing Rackets For Other Players For 5€ A Pop... If This Would Happend Then, It Would Have Cost Me My Career!! https://t.co/xVPzXTSqIw— Dustin Brown (@DreddyTennis) April 26, 2020
No. 200 Illya Marchenko, ranked as high as No. 49 in 2016, added that there were larger changes needed.
"I think we should fix the system and not this sort of charity thing," he said.
Anyway, I think we should fix the system not this sort of charity thing. Players should get what they deserve. And we deserve much more than we are getting right now. Yes, with lower ranked players you have no sponsors and spectators, but without them tennis would not exist.— Illya Marchenko (@imarchello) April 27, 2020
"Find solutions to distribute wealth," he said.
Agreed. Find solutions to distribute wealth so more players eat a piece of pie. Wider distribution of p’money, sell title sponsor for challenger and future tour (like golf Korn Ferry Tour) and give players a piece of money for any match of theirs that is made available to bet on. https://t.co/vbIPngAumE— John Millman (@johnhmillman) April 27, 2020
All clay and grass-court events have been cancelled or postponed, along with some other events further into the season. The ATP and WTA have locked their rankings.