Novak Djokovic just can’t catch a break: first his quarantine complaints were mocked; now he faces a smaller cut of Australian Open prize money.
Total prize money for all tennis players at the first grand slam of the year has actually increased by 12 per cent to A$80m ($61m/£45m).
But those who make it to the latter stages will take home significantly less: the men’s and women’s singles champions stand to earn A$2.75m ($2.10m/£1.53m) each, down 33 per cent on last year’s A$4.12m ($2.75m/£2.09m).
The change in distribution of Australian Open prize money is designed to help lower-ranked players, whose income has been badly affected by Covid-19. First-round losers are guaranteed A$100,000 ($76,000/£56,000), an increase of 11 per cent.
The US Open and French Open both increased payouts for players who lost in early rounds last year. The singles champions’ prize money also fell substantially. Wimbledon was the only grand slam not to take place at all.
Djokovic is the men’s defending champion and has won a record eight titles at the Australian Open. Serena Williams has the most women’s singles titles in Melbourne of the Open Era and is vying for her eighth this month. American Sofia Kenin won last year.
Players have been forced to quarantine in their hotels for 14 days on arrival in Australia. The tournament starts on Monday 8 February, three weeks later than usual, to allow for the Covid-19 precautions. Djokovic and other players attracted criticism for initially complaining about the conditions.