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By Erik Gudris

Australian Open (December 20, 2012) -- Early round losers at the upcoming Australian Open will now feel like winners, thanks in part to a record prize money increase just announced by the tournament.

The champions of the men's and women's singles events will also each receive a hefty pay raise to the tune of AUD$2,430,000, making it the largest winner's check in the sport's history.

The increase in percentages are across the board and will also impact those who compete in qualifying rounds and in doubles. Tournament director Craig Tiley spoke about Tennis Australia's desire to ensure that all players are rewarded for the efforts during the first Major of the year. The prize money increase for 2013 was first announced back in October.

"Our motivation is to make a major contribution toward helping ensure professional tennis players can make a decent living," Tiley said. "As we have said in the past, it is a real issue and needs to be urgently addressed throughout the sport. "That is why the biggest increases are in the earlier rounds, qualifying and doubles which in effect rewards a lot of the lower ranked players for their achievements which, by the way, should not be undersold."

A first round loser will now earn $27,600, a 32.7% increase from last year's amount. Second round losers will receive $45,500, up 36.6% with third round losers making $71,000, up 30% from 2012.

Qualifying round prize money will increase 15%, first round doubles prize money by 30% while round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals singles participants will see a 14% increase.

The news comes just a few days after the USTA announced an overall $4 million dollar increase in prize money for the 2013 U.S. Open. That announcement was met with disappointment by the ATP, who released a statement criticizing the U.S. Open for not offering players more earnings based on the overall revenues that they generate for the event each year.

The Australian Open is scheduled to begin next month on January 9th. A full breakdown of the new prize money amounts can be found here.

(Photo Credit: Australian Open)


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