(November 8, 2012) -- SI’s Jon Wertheim reports that at the ATP board meeting in London this week, the group rejected an offer by BNP Paribas Open chief Larry Ellison to increase prize money at the North American Masters Series event by $800,000. This comes as a surprise to many in light of players recently threatening to boycott tournaments because of prize money issues.
Apparently, the snub of Ellison's $800,000 was orchestrated by tournament representation on the board; if none of the other non-Slam tournaments could match Indian Wells' bounty -- including the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami immediately following the desert event -- it might reflect poorly on those other organizers' abilities to corral money for their own tournaments (which could affect their leverage for attracting sponsors and players). It was also reported that the IMG representative on the board, because of the Sony Ericsson Open, influenced the decision to reject the prize money increase.
American player Michael Russell expressed frustration about losing this boon to the ATPers' livelihoods. "This is another example where a players union is needed in tennis. The system currently in place is flawed. The players have little or no influence in prize money distribution. Tennis is one of the lowest paying sports."