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Mag By Craig Gabriel

SHOULD PLAYERS BE CONSULTED?
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SHOULD PLAYERS BE CONSULTED?

During Wimbledon there were comments made by players that when many decisions are taken by any of the four majors that they, the players are not consulted. The players feel it is wrong that they are not brought into the discussions because in most cases it affects them, the players.

They were saying they felt slighted with the fact that next year the number of seeds at a major will drop back to 16 from 32 and the players were not consulted. Players were irritated they were not brought into discussions over the fact that shot clocks will be used on courts at the US Open despite it being flagged a year before … and matters like that.

Players were not consulted when the majors raised prize money but there was no negative comment about that. None of them would likely say (or ever did say) “no, no that’s too much money”. 

Isn’t there an argument for give and take with issues?

The players feel they should be consulted about a fifth set tiebreak at three of the majors – the US Open already has fifth set breakers. The Wimbledon committee will be looking at the situation of a fifth set tiebreak and Tennis Australia has indicated they will have talks about it with the players, but the view is the majors make their own decisions and then tell the players after the fact.

Sure, there could be the courtesy of letting players know but the majors are not compelled to do so; it is not an obligation. Each of the majors is an independent organisation and can pretty much do what they wish to … within limits.

There is no partnership between the players and the four majors as there is between the men players with the ATP World Tour or the women with the WTA. The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open do not come under the ATP World Tour or WTA umbrellas, certainly they work in conjunction with the Tours but do not answer to the Tours. 

The ATP World Tour and the WTA have boards of directors and there is an elected Player Council with each so matters of importance, or potential changes are channelled through those processes.

Here is an analogy, would there be an expectation or obligation that Warren Buffet or Larry Ellison or Bill Gates, or any CEO of a big multi-million-dollar organisation to be discussing matters that would affect staff had a trickle-down effect?

As I have said many times, and this is not any sort of negative reflection on players at all but put five players in a room and you are likely to get six different opinions. And let’s not forget there are further varying views and differences between the men and the women. It’s just human nature.

What do you think?

The other topic I wanted to question is prize money levels, which I mentioned near the start. Every year the majors increase prize money levels, and it's certainly "sexy" to highlight the big numbers but where and when does it stop? The winners of the top prize pick up $2.5million, $3million, $3.5million, whatever and then there are bonuses on where they may finish with this series or those lead-in events and what not.

If the increase to prize money is to continue and I can’t see anything abating, then why not provide a more equitable distribution to the earlier rounds. Should the top players be suggesting something like that? 

I don’t understand why are the tournaments themselves are competing against one another? Should the four majors have a three-year cap on prize cheques from the semi-final round onwards? After that period the whole thing is reviewed once more because right now prize money is hitting obscene levels. Maybe the majors in this case could contribute any increases to the player pension funds for the players’ future.

What do you think?