The US Open, which always brackets Labor Day during its two-week run, will be particularly good to laborers with names like Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic this year.
The United States Tennis Association, which owns and operates the US Open, has approved a multimillion-dollar increase in prize money as well as a schedule that will give the final four men and women a respite between the semifinals and the finals.
“So not only a day off but a raise,” jokes David Brewer, the Open’s tournament director and the chief professional tennis officer for the USTA, headquartered in Harrison.
After five straight years in which Mother Nature pushed the men’s finals to a Monday, the Open, which is slated to begin Aug. 26, is taking an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude and officially scheduling the men’s final for Monday, Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. Brewer already knows what you’re thinking and the answer is this creates the most equitable schedule for the final four, with the women having a day of rest between their semifinals on Friday and final on Sunday, and the men getting a day off between their semifinals on Saturday and the Monday final.
As for the base prize money, the USTA has raised it to more than $33.6 million, a more than $8.1 million increase over the $25.5 million awarded to players last year. (The USTA will provide $50 million in Open prize money by 2017.) This has been a subject near and dear to the heart of Roger Federer, who as president of the Association of Tennis Professionals’ Player Council, the men’s governing body, has pushed for more prize money, particularly for those who lose in the early rounds.
In a written statement, Federer says, “The excellent outcome for the sport of tennis wouldn’t have been possible without the open-mindedness and fairness of USTA President Dave Haggerty and the USTA staff. They approached our concerns with a true spirit of partnership …Everyone I have spoken with is excited about the increases in prize money, as well as the agreement to change the schedule for 2015 and beyond.”
Ah, yes, 2015 and more big changes. The men’s final returns to Sunday afternoon, with the women’s semifinals on Thursday and final on Saturday and the men’s semifinals on Friday. Plus, adios, CBS: All of the action will be carried exclusively on ESPN in the States.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” says Brewer, who stresses the USTA’s respect for and long history with the Eye Network. “But there’s an advantage to having one domestic broadcaster…. No one is bigger and better than ESPN.”
For more, visit usopen.org.