Tennis Australia has announced a 10% rise in prize money for next year’s Australian Open to bring the total amount above AUS$60 Million for the first time in history.
The grand slam will have a total prize money pool of AUD$60.5 million, which is a $5.5 million increase on this year. The rise coincides with a series of new changes being made to the grand slam event. From 2019, a 25-second clock will be used in all the matches. An initiative that has been implemented with the goal of speeding up matches. The Heat Stress Index, which asses hot environments and predict likely thermal strain on the body, will replace by the Extreme Heat Policy. Furthermore, the size of the women’s qualifying draw will be increased to 128 players to keep in line with the men’s tournament.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on listening to the players, and this year we’ve taken our consultation to a whole new level,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.
“Our team has spent a lot of time this year talking to players, coaches and their teams about what’s important to them, what they like and what changes they want to see.
“From these discussions, held at tournaments around the world, we’ve come up with some changes we know the players want, including the Serve Clock and Electronic Review on all match courts, making conditions more consistent across the precinct.”
One of the most debated subjects concerning grand slams is the use of coaching during matches. In recent weeks there has been a debate about whether the major tournaments should allow on-court coaching in a similar fashion to that of the WTA Tour. At the US Open, Serena Williams was accused of receiving coaching during her final clash with Naomi Osaka. Resulting in a major bust-up with umpire Carlos Ramos. Williams, who also received warnings for racket abuse and verbal abuse, received a game penalty and was later fined $17,000.
At present, the Australian Open has no plans to change their current policy. Although talks are ongoing about the subject with other governing bodies. Currently, coaching is only prohibited in qualifying and junior tournaments only.
“Coaching is an issue we’ve all spoken a lot about over the past couple of months, which is good. As a sport, tennis needs to decide the best way forward. We’ll continue the on-court coaching trial during qualifying – for both men and women – as we progress discussions with the many stakeholders involved. The sport needs to have a consistent approach to all issues around coaching.” Said Tiley.
Australian Open chief Tiley has also confirmed that they will make a final announcement about their position concerning coaching in the ‘coming weeks.’ There has been calls for more consistency on the tour. Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko has previously spoken in favor of getting rid of on-court coaching if it wasn’t implemented at all tournaments in the future.
“I think it’s really important that it’s consistent so fans and players don’t get confused on it so hopefully in the coming weeks we are able to make an announcement on our position.” Tiley outlined.
The Australian Open will take place between January 14-27 next year.
List of changes for the 2019 Australian Open
- Prize money increased to AUD $60.5 million
- 25 second Serve Clock for all main draw matches
- Electronic Review System on all 16 match courts
- Maintaining 32 seeds in the main draw and in qualifying for both men and women
- Heat Stress Index to replace Extreme Heat Policy
- Increased Australian Open qualifying draw for women, from 96 to 128 players
- Qualifying tournament to start a day earlier, on Tuesday 8 January
- Continued trial of on-court coaching in qualifying and juniors
- Tie Break Tens returns to MCA on Wednesday 9 January
- High-profile practice matches to be held at MCA on each day of qualifying.
Source – ausopen.com