Thursday, 27 March 2014


Every now and then the game of tennis throws up some situations that may seem as though someone is watching over us and saying 'you deserve this, make the most of your luck'. This happened to 90th ranked Benjamin Becker from Germany just this last week with a last 16 showing at the Sony Open Tournament in Miami USA. Becker picked up just over $51,000 US after losing eventually to 12th seed Milos Raonic, but it's how he got there that made it quite simply a 'bonus'. Becker's ranking was too low to be accepted into the main draw so he had to qualify where he lost in the second last round to Jaziri Malek from Tunisia, himself a battler on the circuit ranked 28 places below Becker at 118. Malek lost in the first round to Spain's Alejandro Gonzalez , ranked 83 but picked up a handy $9000 for his efforts , not a bad week's work. 
Becker should have been on a plane to his next tournament when he received the call that he was to enter the tournament as a 'Lucky loser', spots that are given to losing qualifiers to fill a place in the main draw. This place was filled by a grateful Becker as Juan Martin Del Potro withdrew with an injury before the start of the tournament which guaranteed the German at least $16,000 as a potential second round loser. Becker however didn't want to go home just yet. 
The man who put Andre Agassi out of his last ever tournament promptly won two more matches and sent himself through as an unlikely round of 16 participant. Raonic was way too strong for Becker , the difference in the rankings obvious but for Becker a pay day of over $50,000 was way more than what he could've expected after entering the qualifying event. 
Stories like this are not rare on the tennis circuit but they are feel good moments for players and fans alike as it is a given that the top ten will generally come out of the big tournaments with pay days of anywhere between $50,000 to perhaps $1,000,000 or more . Andre Agassi once famously told a media conference that Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov should take his prize money and go and buy some 'perspective' when the Russian complained of 'not getting paid enough' for his job , he had a point. Up until then Kafelnikov had won a 'mere' $18,000,000 in his career.
Prize money has increased for tennis over the years dramatically as in 1988 when Mats Wilander won the US Open he picked up $275,000 , that title is now worth over $2,000,000 to the winner. Sponsorship dollars are now increasing and players are reaping the benefits but even back in 1999 when Yevgeny sparked a war of words between himself and Agassi the pay days were rather handsome .
Now days players such as Benjamin Becker who has amassed nearly three million in prize money but is in his twilight years as a pro at age 32 are making the most of their luck and fitness. Playing professional tennis into your 30's no doubt becomes physically tough on the body as was documented by Andre Agassi in his second last match of his career . Agassi complained of lack of breath and a physical melt down after 5 grueling sets on hard court with a much younger and fitter opponent.
This week Becker was a 'Lucky Loser' who made $50,000 and good luck to him , every now and then the game of tennis brings a little luck to those that persevere......

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