Pospisil details male players’ fight for more ATP money

Pospisil says only the top 100 ATP Tour players make money because only 14 percent of the sport’s revenues go back to the players.

Pospisil cites North American team sports leagues, where ownership and players split revenues about 50-50.   -  AP

Canada’s Vasek Pospisil pulled the cover off a behind-the-scenes money fight at the US Open, detailing a petition seeking a prize money boost with significant men’s player support.

With reports that up to 100 players have signed the petition and they could look at taking action in their fight for raises, Pospisil on Tuesday said that more than rank and file players back the idea.

“There are a lot of players, a lot. I’ll just leave it at that,” said Pospisil. “We have big names as well.”

Pospisil, who spoke out earlier this month in Canada, says only the top 100 ATP Tour players make money because only 14 percent of the sport’s revenues go back to the players.

The world number 216, at his lowest spot since May 2011, played down the notion players could threaten not to play to force greater profit sharing from ATP and Grand Slam events.

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“I think we’re just wanting to say, ‘Hey, we’re here, let’s have fair talks, explanations, transparency. Explain why things have to be certain ways,’” Pospisil said Tuesday.

“It’s just a very gentle, ‘Can we come to the negotiation table and can you just explain to us why it has to be a certain way, why it has to be 14 percent?’”

Pospisil upset Russian ninth seed Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to reach a second-round match with American Tennys Sandgren.

Pospisil cast a light on turmoil as players seek better incomes from those outside the top 100 who still play significant roles in Grand Slam events.

“The players get 14 percent of the revenues, seven percent to the women, seven percent to the men,” Pospisil said.

“Our sport is doing so incredibly well, but there’s still just 100 players or so that are making a good living. I just think it shouldn’t be that way when the sport is so incredibly profitable.

“But it’s normal because the players are relatively powerless in their positions with the tournaments.

“We don’t have legal representation that just solely looks out for the players’ best interests. How are you ever going to have fairness? It’s business. It’s just hard to see guys that are 120, 130 in the world, dedicated their whole lives — they’re incredible athletes, incredible people — to get to this level. They’re getting overlooked, not appreciated. That’s just the reality.”

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Talk with WTA players

Pospisil pointed to the expense and effort needed to get into the top-money Slams.

“I think prize money is pretty top-heavy. Every round it doubles, doubles, doubles. Obviously the guys in later rounds are doing well. But should they be making more, too?” he said.

“Early round guys, qualifications, one thing that’s overlooked, there are only four Grand Slams in the year. People like to say, ‘Look at this guy, he played first round, lost 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, whatever, picked up a USD 50,000 check.’ That’s just the wrong way to look at it.

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“The way to look at it is that player had won 43 matches at the highest level of the sport to get to that ranking to be a direct entry, and he has four events to make that kind of money.

“He pays taxes, pays travel expenses, his coach, hotel, everything. There’s more to it than just USD 50,000 or whatever for a first-round loss. Then there’s all the qualifying players, as well.”

Pospisil cites North American team sports leagues, where ownership and players split revenues about 50-50.

“It wasn’t difficult for me to speak out,” Pospisil said.

“It’s good to just talk openly about these things.” He also spoke with players on the WTA player council, a hint that they could have support from women in making their point at combined ATP-WTA events.

“What affects one side affects the other,” he said.

“It just makes sense to collaborate and communicate, especially at the Grand Slams.”

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