NEW YORK -- Roger Federer, who along with Rafael Nadal rejoined the ATP Player Council earlier this month, said he will work to see that lower-ranked and qualifying-grade players will get a larger share of any prize money increases the players' organization negotiates in the coming years.
"I do believe the Challenger players [those playing on the ATP Challenger Tour, one rung below the main ATP Tour] and also maybe qualifying and second-round loser should get more," the Swiss icon said after winning his second-round US Open match on Wednesday. "I think if there should be increases, it shouldn't be at the top anymore. I feel like we have reached a pretty good level there."
The distribution of prize money in tennis has become a hot topic in recent months, with an insurgent faction in the ATP pushing for a prize money structure that would enable more players to make a decent living. While prize money for high performers has increased significantly, hitting record numbers year after year (the men's and women's winners of the US Open this year will collect $3.85 million out of a total purse of $57.2 million), critics say that not enough of the money trickles down to journeymen or players on the cusp of making it onto the tour.
"Prize money is pretty top-heavy. Every round it doubles, doubles, doubles," Vasek Pospisil told reporters following his own first-round win at Flushing Meadows.
Pospisil, one of the most outspoken of the insurgents, is also a player representative on the Pro Council. He has been ranked as high as No. 25, but partly due to injury he has slipped down to No. 216. Pospisil added that early-round losers and players in the qualifying event, many of whom are of top-100 calibre, are still being "overlooked."
Federer appears to agree.
"I know the tournaments don't find it very sexy giving [increases] to first-round qualies [players in the qualifying event] or challengers," he said. "That's what we're going to fight for."
The No. 3 seed estimated that when he first won the Australian Open, in 2004, he collected about $450,000.
"It was important for us just to be able to raise winners' prize money, and come up with that so we can rival other sports, like golf," Federer said. "That went up very quickly, very drastically, which is great. But [the gap] became too big between the winner and first-round loser."
This year, first-round losers in both main singles draws will collect $58,000, a $4,000 increase from last year.