Tennis: €25m to play for as Paris cash goes up

THE French Open prize money pool has risen to €25million (£20.46m) after the country’s tennis federation announced a three million euro increase to overall winnings yesterday.

Novak Djokovic opened his Monte Carlo Masters title defence with a 6-1, 6-0 demolition of Albert Montanes. Picture: Getty

The FFT added that the men’s and women’s champions would benefit from a 10 per cent rise in earnings, each banking €1.65m (£1.32m) for winning the singles titles in Paris. “This noticeable progression of the Roland Garros prize money is part of the four-year plan for the 2013-16 period,” tournament director and FFT general director Gilbert Ysern said in a statement.

Last year, Wimbledon had a total prize pool of €22.56m (£18.63m), while the US Open had a $33.6m (£20.09m) purse. This year’s Australian Open prize money pool was $33m (£18.46m).

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Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic began the defence of his Monte Carlo Masters title in flamboyant style, taking only 45 minutes to beat Albert Montanes 6-1, 6-0 and maintain his perfect record against the Spaniard.

The second-ranked Serb won 11 consecutive games and improved to 6-0 against Montanes, who has taken only one set off Djokovic. “For the first match on clay, it was great. There were not too many flaws in my game,” Djokovic said. “I was just trying to use the court well, not allowing him to get into the rhythm. I was changing the angles, coming to the net, being aggressive.”

The speed and ease of the win reminded him of when he beat Czech player Jan Hernych 6-0, 6-0 five years ago in the second round at Basel, Switzerland. “It’s great that you have a chance to finish your work on the court in such a short time,” he said. “On the other [hand], I would like to have a little bit more longer rallies, a bigger challenge, so I can test myself, see where I am, where my game is on clay.”

The only small drawback for Djokovic is that he has some soreness in his right wrist.

“I have a certain problem that I’ve carried for the last week or so,” he said. “The short match today helped. So I’m going to have some time to heal it.”

Djokovic has won two Masters titles this year, beating Rafael Nadal in Key Biscayne and Roger Federer at Indian Wells. He is also looking for his fifth straight Masters title after winning Paris and Shanghai at the end of last year.

He faces Frenchman Gael Monfils in the next round, who beat 14th-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), or Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.

French Open runner-up David Ferrer of Spain needed a bit longer to reach the third round, taking just over one hour to beat Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-0 after dropping his opening service game.

Ferrer, who lost the final here to Nadal in 2011, next plays 12th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, of Bulgaria, or Albert Ramos, of Spain.

Ninth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also advanced to round three after beating Philipp Kohlschreiber, of Germany, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.

In the first round, Dimitrov beat Marcel Granollers, of Spain, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, while 13th-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny lost to Andreas Seppi, of Italy, 6-3, 7-6 (4) and No 16 Jerzy Janowicz, of Poland, was beaten by France’s Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-2.

Teymuraz Gabashvili, of Russia, beat Llodra’s compatriot Gilles Simon 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 and will next play Nadal on Wednesday, while Croat Marin Cilic beat Australian Marinko Matosevic 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 and faces Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, of Switzerland, the third seed.

In Kuala Lumpur, defending champion Karolina Pliskova eased into the second round of the BMW Malaysian Open.

The Czech third seed, who won the only WTA Tour title of her career here 12 months ago, defeated Aleksandra Krunic 6-2, 6-2.

Second seed Zhang Shuai is also through but she had a much tougher time against Chinese compatriot Zheng Saisai before beating 2-6, 6-2, 6-2. Seventh seed Donna Vekic, 17, defeated Chan Yung-jan 3-6 6-4 6-1 but 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm was forced to pull out when trailing Cagla Buyukakcay 5-3.

Eighth seed Ayumi Morita was 5-2 behind against Lyudmyla Kichenok when rain brought an early end to play yesterday and the Ukrainian maintained her advantage to win 6-4 6-2. Sixth seed Zarina Diyas continued her fine start to the year by beating Elenu Daniilidou 6-2 6-2 and there were also wins for Hsieh Su-wei and Kristyna Pliskova.