Tennis: Player unrest over US Open rumbles on

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ANDY Murray has not been involved in discussions about a possible boycott of this summer’s US Open, but the players’ unhappiness with the year’s final grand slam is clear.

The ATP, which represents the players, issued a statement last month criticising the United States Tennis Association’s decision to extend the tournament by a day this year to feature a Monday final.

Bad weather has forced the men’s final to be played on the third Monday for the last five years instead of the scheduled Sunday, and tournament organisers decided this year to make that official. It may only be for 2013, with organisers having to decide in future whether to shift the men’s semi-finals from Saturday to Friday, a move they have so far resisted for commercial reasons. The players are also unhappy that prizemoney has only been increased by four million US dollars, meaning it is likely to be around 12 per cent of revenue. This contrasts with the Australian Open, which has earned the praise of players after increasing the prize fund to close to 20 per cent of revenue.

The players staged one of their regular meetings in Melbourne earlier this month and a report yesterday suggested a boycott of the US Open was on the cards.

After his fourth-round victory over Gilles Simon at the Australian Open yesterday, Murray said: “Since the player meeting, I haven’t discussed with any of the players what was said there. But I know the ATP are not happy with the Monday final. I know that’s an issue because however much revenue they make from having an extra day on their tournament hasn’t really reflected in the increase in prizemoney.

“That was what the players wanted, obviously better prize money, but not with an extra day. I think that’s what they’re disappointed with. But I haven’t spoken with anyone about boycotting the event.”

Another of the players’ biggest beefs has been with the length of the season. The schedule was reduced by two weeks last season and will be the same this season but, in order to achieve that, the week between the Paris Masters and ATP World Tour Finals in London was taken out, arguably to the detriment of both tournaments.

The ATP released its schedule for 2014 yesterday and the free week has been reinstated, meaning the season will finish a week later.