Tennis all about love and money

The Australian Grand Slam starts tomorrow and prize money for first-round losers in the men's and women's singles has surged 32.7 per cent from last year to A$27,600.

Even no-hopers will be eager to strut their stuff at the first major tennis tournament of the year.

The Australian Grand Slam starts tomorrow and prize money for first-round losers in the men's and women's singles has surged 32.7 per cent from last year to A$27,600 (Dh106,776). Second-round losers have done even better, with prize money up 36.6 per cent to A$45,500.

"Our motivation is to make a major contribution toward helping ensure professional tennis players can make a decent living," says Craig Tiley, the Australian Open tournament director.

Like the other three Grand Slams, the Australian version sets its own prize money. Below the four Grand Slams is the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour and the junior Challenger series.

In 2004, prize money from the ATP tour was US$54 million (Dh198.3m). That figure has surged since then and this year will be $85.4m - a rise of 58 per cent.

Prize money on the ATP World Tour and the Challenger series is set by the ATP Board of directors.

"Minimum prize-money levels on the ATP World Tour are determined in accordance with a number of factors, ranging from tournament categories, draw size and position in the calendar," says an ATP spokesman.

"Changes to prize money levels are regularly reviewed."

The board is led by the former top 40 singles player Brad Drewett, who is joined by six other directors. The group comprises three tournament representatives and three former players. The players' representatives include Justin Gimelstob, an American who won Grand Slam mixed doubles in Australia and France with Venus Williams.

Mr Gimelstob is joined by David Egdes, a South African with a low-key record as a player but who trained as an attorney in the United States after retiring, and Giorgio di Palermo, an Italian who is also a lawyer and has worked for the Italian Tennis Federation.

The tournament representatives include Gavin Forbes, a US senior vice president at the International Management Group, and the English solicitor Mark Webster, who previously spent a decade selling ATP media rights. He is joined by Charles Humphrey Smith, the managing director of Juss Event, China's largest sports events management company, which stages the Shanghai Rolex Masters 1000.

The Shanghai Masters is one of nine top-ranking events the game's top players are expected to enter every year. The ATP Board sets minimum prize money and a first-round loser in Miami, another Masters 1000 event, will receive $8,370 this year with the winner taking home $719,160.

Beneath the Masters events are 11 ATP 500 category tournaments and 41 of third-tier ATP 250 events.

A week before the Australian Open, Sydney hosted an ATP World Tour 250 featuring a draw of 32 players, in which first-round losers netted $4,470.

Rewards for 500 events are higher. At the Dubai Duty Free tournament, which starts on February 25, a first-round loser pockets $12,415 with the winner claiming $429,600.

Steve Menary is a writer and journalist. He is a regular contributor to World Soccer, When Saturday Comes, Four Four Two and Backpass. He also wrote Outcasts! The Lands That Fifa Forgot, which was shortlisted for the Football Book of the Year in 2008.