Melbourne | Record AO purse as Grand Slam repels boarders

The Australian Open is just around the corner and the prize money on offer is reaching a record high, following a 3.4% boost in the total purse of Aus $76.5 million, which is about 51.6 million in US dollars and is helping to ward off threats of a take-over by some wishing to move the Grand Slam away from Melbourne.

We want to ensure Australia is the launchpad for the global season and that we see as much of them as possible. They inspire us all to engage in this great sport as well as inspiring future generations. We are delighted to have more than $100 million in prize money on offer across the Australian summer, along with more chances to compete across the country. Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia Chief Executive and AO Tournament Director

The winners of the men’s and women’s titles at the first Grand Slam of 2023 will each take home Aus $2.975 million, while players beaten in earlier rounds are faring proportionally better.

First round losers will receive Aus $106,250, up 3.2% on last year, and 2nd-round players get a similar increase to Aus $158,850.

Those who reach the quarter-final stage or better in the singles tournaments will make at least half a million in earnings, while the runner-ups will take home $1,625,000.

AO Tournament Director Craig Tiley said the total prize pool for the Australian summer of tennis, which includes Grand Slam warm-up events, the United Cup and tournaments in Adelaide and Hobart, will exceed Aus $100 million for the first time.

This is the result of a record $76.5M the Australian Open made last January, as well as the addition of the United Cup, the new mixed team event which has a prize money pool of $15M.

“It is critical to the continued success of the Australian tennis summer that we provide strong and relevant playing opportunities, and ensure that the best players in the world are compensated appropriately,” he said.

Players participating in qualifying and the doubles tournaments will also receive a higher payment compared to 12 months ago.

“At the Australian Open, we’ve upped prize money for every round from qualifying, through to the finals, with the major increases in the early rounds,” Tiley added. “These substantial rewards help players invest in their own careers and, in many cases, set themselves up for success throughout the year.”


Rafael Nadal poses with the winner's trophy during a media photo shoot the morning after his victory in the men's singles final at the 2022 AO

© Martin Keep/AFP via Getty Images

Australian Open prize money has increased by more than 321%, or Aus$58.32 million, in the last 20 years, when it was Aus$18.18 million.

In fact, prize money at the Grand Slam has increased by 155% since 2013 when the tally was $30M and, since Tiley became Tournament Director in 2007, the pool has expanded by 283%.

“We want to ensure Australia is the launchpad for the global season and that we see as much of them as possible,” Tiley said. “They inspire us all to engage in this great sport as well as inspiring future generations.

“We are delighted to have more than $100 million in prize money on offer across the Australian summer, along with more chances to compete across the country.

“We’ve worked tirelessly alongside the ATP and WTA to launch the exciting new United Cup, which includes its own significant ranking points and prize money, a further two WTA and ATP events in Adelaide, the Hobart International and an upgraded ATP 100 Challenger in Canberra.”


Ash Barty made history by winning the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in Melbourne last year and retired some weeks later

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Australian Open begins on 16 January, when Rafael Nadal will begin the defence of his title, but reigning women’s champion Ash Barty will not be on hand to defend her’s, having retired from the sport earlier this year.

Australian Open prize money breakdown (singles only)

  • Winner – $2,975,000
  • Runner-up – $1,625,000
  • Semi-Finalists – $925,000
  • Quarter-Finalists – $555,250
  • Round of 16 – $338,250
  • Round of 32 – $227,925
  • Round of 64 – $158,850
  • Round of 128 – $106,250

The AO draw takes place on Thursday, 12 January, and will be streamed live and free by the tournament’s official YouTube channel, while the qualifying draw will be made on Sunday, 8 January.


Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia, poses during the 2023 Australian Open launch at Melbourne Park in October

© Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Tiley has revealed just how bleak the cash reserves have been for Tennis Australia after two years of trying to survive through the pandemic, which left the Australian Open under threat of being poached.

While Melbourne holds a long-term contract for the event until 2046, Tiley admits that private investors and overseas governments were lining up to try to secure the AO rights.

“There was a period back in 2010 when there was significant interest from Sydney and significant interest from Shanghai,” Tiley told the Herald Sun recently.

He also admitted that TA had been approached about moving the tournament elsewhere when the State of Victoria had some of the tightest Covid restrictions in the world for the 2020 and 2021 editions of the event, which saw the AO finances take a monstrous hit, and left them wide open to threats from interstate and overseas.

Discussions had taken place at TA to move the Grand Slam to Sydney’s shores, where restrictions were less stringent, and would have allowed bigger crowds.

“Private equity know that when it’s in good times it’s a very healthy business, very attractive for private equity,” Tiley continued. “So there was quite a bit of interest.”

With the pandemic restrictions now behind them, Tiley says they are building back the reserves.

“It’s gone from $80m to zero, pretty much,’’ he said of the deficit.

Tiley added that the Victorian government and Melbourne Park needed to stay ahead of the game to ensure the Australian Open remained in Melbourne.

Although having recently undergone a redevelopment, Tiley believes a new stadium is needed along with more courts and further expansion of the grounds.

“We do need to develop another master plan, and work with the state government on it,’’ he said. “And there is going to be a need for another stadium, whether that be a refurbishment or a replacement of John Cain Arena.

“There will be a need for more courts, as the event grows into a three week event.’’



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