US Open champions to get lowest payout since 2012, total prizes up

The two singles champions at this year’s US Open will earn 35 percent less than in 2019, the last time the Grand Slam tennis tournament allowed spectators.

Naomi Osaka holds up the championship trophy after defeating Victoria Azarenka in the women's singles final of the US Open, on September 12, 2020. - AP

The two singles champions at this year’s US Open will earn 35 percent less than in 2019, the last time the Grand Slam tennis tournament allowed spectators, while prize money for qualifying and the first three rounds of the main draw will rise as part of an overall increase.

A year after banning fans entirely because of the coronavirus pandemic and lowering prize money due to lost revenue, the US Tennis Association announced Monday that it will be boosting total player compensation to a record USD 57.5 million, slightly more than the USD 57.2 million in 2019. The figure was USD 53.4 million in 2020.

The title winners in singles each will be paid USD 2.5 million, down from USD 3 million last year and USD 3.85 million two years ago. It is the lowest amount for the top prize at Flushing Meadows since 2012, when the singles champs each received USD 1.9 million.

This year’s singles runners-up will be paid USD 1.25 million, a decrease from USD 1.5 million in 2020 and USD 1.9 million in 2019 — and the lowest since USD 950,000 in 2012.

In 2020, US Open qualifying was called off amid the pandemic. That part of this year’s event starts Tuesday — unlike for the main tournament, no spectators will be permitted — and will award nearly USD 6 million in all, a jump from about USD 3.5 million in 2019.

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Other examples of increases in singles: First-round prize money goes to USD 75,000, a bump of 23 percent from USD 61,000 in 2020 and of 29 percent from USD 58,000 in 2019; second-round payouts go to USD 115,000 from USD 100,000 in 2020 and 2019; and third-round payouts go to USD 180,000 from USD 163,000 in 2020 and 2019.

Total prize money is going up for each competition, the USTA said: singles, doubles, mixed doubles and wheelchair tennis.

“We determined our round-by-round prize money allocations by engaging in an open dialogue with the players and the management of both tours,” tournament director Stacey Allaster said in a statement issued by the USTA. “We applaud their collective leadership in directing the 2021 US Open prize money to benefit the maximum number of players.”

The singles draw in New York is on Thursday; main draw action begins August 30.

Novak Djokovic will be bidding to complete the first calendar-year Grand Slam by a man since Rod Laver in 1969 and eyeing a men’s-record 21st major singles championship. Naomi Osaka is the defending women’s champion as she seeks a fifth Grand Slam title.

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