The two singles champions at this year’s U.S. Open will earn 35 per cent 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 U.S. Tennis Association announced Monday that it will be boosting total player compensation to a record $57.5-million, slightly more than the $57.2-million in 2019. The figure was $53.4-million in 2020.
The title winners in singles each will be paid $2.5-million, down from $3-million last year and $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 $1.9-million.
This year’s singles runners-up will be paid $1.25-million, a decrease from $1.5-million in 2020 and $1.9-million in 2019 — and the lowest since $950,000 in 2012.
In 2020, U.S. 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 $6-million in all, a jump from about $3.5-million in 2019.
Other examples of increases in singles: First-round prize money goes to $75,000, a bump of 23 per cent from $61,000 in 2020 and of 29 per cent from $58,000 in 2019; second-round payouts go to $115,000 from $100,000 in 2020 and 2019; and third-round payouts go to $180,000 from $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 U.S. Open prize money to benefit the maximum number of players.”
The singles draw in New York is Thursday; main draw action begins Aug. 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.