Djokovic’s Millions: Adjusting For Inflation But Not For Excellence - UBITENNIS
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Djokovic’s Millions: Adjusting For Inflation But Not For Excellence

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In 2015, Novak Djokovic won USD 21.6m in prize money, the most any one player has won in a single year. To some this is an astonishing figure, underscoring Djokovic’s current dominance – he won 3 of the 4 slams. To others USD 21.6m loses some of its significance given recent increases in ATP prize money and how financial inflation makes comparison between different years more difficult.

However, research of prize money data, including adjusting for inflation, shows that Djokovic’s prize money earnings this year (particularly in comparison to 2011, where Djokovic also won 3 slams) are the product almost equally both of sustained tennis excellence, at the slams and in the post-US Open period, and of large “real terms” increases in prize money at the slams.

Djokovic prize money – 2011 and 2015 seasons (actual amounts and adjusted for inflation)

50-Djok-2011-2015

As in 2011, Djokovic’s 2015 season was founded on winning 3 slams: Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open. 2015 highlights also included 6 Masters 1000 titles and the World Tour Finals title; and a win-loss record of 82-6 including an astonishing record of 30-5 against top 10 players.

Djokovic’s playing stats translated to earning USD 21.6m, more than players ranked 2 to 4 combined (Murray, Federer and Wawrinka), an achievement with only 1 precedent since 1985 (the first year that the ATP publishes season-by-season prize money totals), in 2006 when Federer himself won 3 slams.

Previously, Djokovic’s season in 2011 was considered to be a career year and yet Djokovic won just (ha!) USD 12.6m that year.

There are two principal reasons why Djokovic earned USD 8m more in 2015 than in 2011:

  • In 2011, despite putting together a 41 match win streak and putting together a win-loss record of 70-6 in 2011, he went 6-4 in the autumn after his US Open victory and did not win a tournament .

Fast forward to 2015 and Djokovic’s excellence was sustained throughout the year. This included going 19-1 after the US Open winning Beijing, Shanghai and Paris Masters 1000s as well as the World Tour Finals losing a single match at the Tour Finals to Federer.

The difference in post-US Open performance between prize money earned in 2011 (inflation-adjusted) and 2015 was worth USD 3.9m to Djokovic (see table).

  • However, tennis excellence does not explain all of Djokovic’s record prize money haul in 2015. For the rest, we need to look into decisions made in the last few years by the ATP tour and the different grand slam tournaments to raise prize money.  The upshot of these decisions has been to vastly expand the potential of leading players to earn prize money. (This also has troubling implications for the enlarged gap between tennis’s haves and have-nots – but this is not today’s story.)

Although much has been made of the ATP’s announcements to raise prize money (for example at Masters 1000 events), it is at grand slam events where the heaviest increases have been seen. In recent years, grand slam tournaments have in general sought to increase prize money in the lower rounds (R128, R64, R32) at an equal or marginally higher percentage than for the later rounds.  However, despite the fairness this implies, the tournaments’ winners were even more heavily compensated: a second round loser at the US Open in 2015 banked their 14% rise in prize money of a shade over USD 8,000 (total USD 68,600), while the winner had to make do with only a 10% rise – but from USD 3m to USD 3.3m.

Here’s how  grand slam prize money increases worked for Djokovic between 2011 and 2015:

    • In both 2011 and 2015, Djokovic won 3 grand slams – the Australian and US Opens and Wimbledon. In 2011, this was worth a shade over USD 6m (in 2015 dollars, adjusted for inflation). However, in 2015, these three titles were worth USD 9.3m, an extra USD 3.2m, an inflation-adjusted increase of 53% in only 4 years (see table).

While this article has sought to break down Djokovic’s earnings in 2015 only, research shows that over the last 5 years Djokovic has been the dominant earner of prize money in the men’s game (almost superior to Federer and Nadal combined). Prize money may only be an indicator of the game’s preferred currencies – grand slam titles and weeks holding the number one ranking – but it is another data point that helps to support Djokovic’s putative and eventual inclusion in the debate about the game’s greatest player: that is the subject of the next article in this series.

 

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Lille To Host Davis Cup Final For Second Consecutive Year

France will host Croatia in November as Lille will host the last traditional Davis Cup final.

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Yannick Noah (zimbio.com)

The French Tennis Federation have announced that Lille will host the Davis Cup final for the second consecutive year in November. 

The French city hosted the Davis Cup final last year when France defeated Belgium 3-2 in last year’s contest win Lucas Pouille won the crucial rubber.

It will also be the third time in five years that Lille has hosted the final for the Davis Cup final as they saw the biggest crowd for a tennis match in 2014 to see Roger Federer win the Davis Cup for Switzerland.

The FFT have yet to decide what the surface is but have chosen the same city that saw them beat Spain in the semi-finals last weekend.

This year’s final will see France, who will look to retain their title, at home to Croatia, who will look to win the trophy for the second time after their first triumph in 2005.

The final will be the last traditional Davis Cup final as next year’s event will adopt a one week, one venue format involving an 18 team format.

The head to head between the two nations is currently 1-1, with Croatia winning their last meeting two years ago in the World Group semi-finals.

The final will take place on the weekend of the 23-25 of November in Lille.

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John Millman Sets High Ambitions For 2019 As He Looks For Strong Asia Swing

John Millman has aimed for a grand slam seeding in 2019 as he looks to finish the season strongly.

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John Millman (zimbio.com)

John Millman has set some high ambitions for the 2019 season as he looks to continue his momentum in Asia next month. 

The Australian defeated Roger Federer at the US Open earlier in the month to reach the last eight in New York before losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic.

The 29 year old is looking to build on his momentum in Asia next month where he heads to Japan and China for more wins.

In an interview with Fox Sports Australia, Millman revealed that he is still recovering from a hip injury and has withdrawn next week’s Chengdu Open.

“I will be pulling out of Chengdu today. I tested it yesterday and it’s improving but not ready, I’m planning on playing Tokyo still. I didn’t know it was a tear until I had a scan in Austria. It’s a couple of weeks thing only, but it was quite painful.”

After Tokyo, Millman plans on playing events in Shanghai, Stockholm and Basel before ending his season at the final masters 1000 event of the season in Paris.

However the world number 37 has revealed that he has motivation to end the season well as his aim is to be seeded for the grand slam events in 2019.

The next step for me is to make the most of it and win matches and go on another big run after the US Open,” Millman explained.

“I have some ranking points to defend toward the end of the year, but after I ticked off my goal for the year of making the top 50, the next step is getting a seed at a Grand Slam, which is top 32. I’m getting close now.”

The ITF announced a few weeks ago that the grand slam events for 2019 will still have 32 seeds despite rumours that they would change to 16 seeds.

The Australian’s next tournament is in Tokyo, Japan which starts on the 1st of October.

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Rafael Nadal Officially Withdraws From Asia Swing After Knee Consultation

Rafael Nadal will miss the Asian swing after a consultation with his doctor in Barcelona about his knee injury.

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Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

World number one Rafael Nadal has officially withdrawn from the Asian swing after a consultation with a doctor in Barcelona. 

The Spaniard suffered a knee injury during his US Open semi-final with Juan Martin Del Potro where he had to retire from the match.

After a consultation with a doctor in Barcelona, Nadal learned that he needs more time to rest his knee and therefore will miss the tournaments in Beijing and Shanghai.

The Roland Garros champion is currently defending 1,100 points from those two tournaments and his latest withdrawal gives the opportunity for Novak Djokovic to aim for the year end world number one.

In a statement in Spanish on twitter, Nadal said the following, “Hello Everyone, as you know I had to withdraw from the semi-finals of the US Open and on Monday I was in Barcelona with doctors to check the situation of my knee,” Nadal claimed.

“The annoyances on my knee are nothing new. We have decided with my medical and technical team not to participate in the Asian tour to recover the knee the way we have always done.”

The 32 year old finished his statement by apologising to the fans and tournament directors of Beijing and Shanghai for not attending this year’s event, “I’m sorry I can’t be with all the fans in China and with the organisers of the Beijing and Shanghai tournaments.”

The withdrawal of Nadal means should Novak Djokovic win the Shanghai masters in a few weeks time then he will be in pole position to end the year as world number one.

As for Nadal his frustrating knee injury continues and he will be hopeful to return in Basel in October. The Spaniard is one of three players also to already qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November as he joins Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for the ATP’s season finale.

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