Players supported Australian Open boycott: Stakhovsky
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A proposal to boycott the Australian Open by male players at the weekend over prize money was supported by the majority of ATP players but not followed through as it would have been unfair on tournament organizers, Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky told Reuters.
"Some of the players were suggesting that we're not really going to play here," world number 65 Stakhovsky said in an interview at Melbourne Park, referring to an ATP players' meeting on Saturday.
"(They) got quite a lot of votes for that, too. But it was just not right, because we're here and the Australian Open would have no chance to change anything.
"It was enough (votes not to play). It was more than enough."
Players have complained about prize money for years, saying grand slam event purses were too small in relation to the revenues they brought in, and too lop-sided in favour of the top players, who regularly advanced to the big-money matches.
The matter came to a head at the ATP players' meeting, with one player, 32nd seed Alex Bogomolov Jr of Russia, tweeting over the weekend of a possible strike at Melbourne Park.
Stakhovsky said the majority of the top players were also sympathetic to the lower-ranked players' demands.
"More than 80 percent of the top players are on the same page as the rest of the players, saying that grand slams are not paying enough and that some mandatory (ATP) events are not having proper prize money distribution," Stakhovsky said.
"It's really kind of nice of them to think of other players."
The top players are required to compete in all the four grand slams, eight Masters 1000 events, the season-ending World Tour Finals and a handful of lower-tier tournaments.
"We all have issues. I have issues. My issue is that Indian Wells and Miami (in the U.S.) are mandatory events and if I'm losing the first round I am minus (earnings), I am not making money off these tournaments," Stakhovsky said.
"It's four weeks spending in the States, it's airfares and it's hotels... If you're out in the first round, you're unable to pay your coach."
Players, including British world number four Andy Murray, previously raised the possibility of going on strike over the crammed tennis calendar after the rain-disrupted U.S. Open.
Stakhovsky suggested players could yet elect to take strike action in future tournaments but were still holding out hope of changes and in any case, needed to be better organized.
"You can't just stand up and say we don't play. You have to have a certain strategy. You have to deal with grand slams, you can't just say guys we not going to play.
"We have to say what we want, what we feels fair for both institutions for the ATP and for the grand slams.
"We have to do some serious paper work first, legal work first.
"You never know. But I'm confident that we are going to change things. "I'm not going to say that (striking's) not possible."
The ATP declined to comment on the players' meeting but last year announced total prize money would increase 20 percent in the three years from 2012-14.
That would include increases of 30 percent over three years for the ATP World Tour Finals, restricted to the top eight eligible players, and 33 percent over three years for a bonus pool for the top 12 eligible players.
While Stakhovsky spoke of consensus among players, ATP Council vice-president Rafa Nadal suggested there was a rift at the very top of the game between himself and president Roger Federer.
Nadal took a verbal swipe at Federer when talking to Spanish media on Sunday, saying the Swiss did not want to rock the boat while letting others take criticism for demanding change.
(Editing by John O'Brien)