The biggest issue i see in pro tennis is the prize money distribution and i think it's rather obvious that players are simply playing on now days because the money is outrageous. If a pro on the men's tour wins a match at the Madrid Masters which is currently being played he will be guaranteed of around $18,000 US Dollars even if he loses second round . The money doubles each round so by the time a player gets to the final he is looking at a pay day of around $500,000 US Dollars , not a bad pay day in any currency.
Let's look at some of the players that don't win much , take Lleyton Hewitt for example, he turned up in Rome , lost first round , picked up his $9,000 and probably went shopping with Bec and the kids, not a bad way to spend your days off.
Blaz Rola is from Slovenia, 23 , has a ranking of 100, a huge effort for this young fellow to be in the top 100 players in the World , yet his prize money is a little less than what Novak or Rafa will pick up this week. Take this for an example, a couple of weeks ago he played a Challenger tournament in Brazil , lost early and picked up $415, hmmm, what's wrong with this ? This is a big issue on the ATP circuit, the rich are getting richer and the rest , well they are the future of the game but they are struggling to make ends meet.
I read somewhere just recently that American Michael Russell , ranked 98 said he spent around $75,000 US Dollars on expenses last year on the pro circuit, so let's put this into perspective. A pro technically needs to make approximately $1500 per week just to break even on the tour, so how does he do that if he only picks up 415 bucks in a Challenger? Tough industry this tennis.
Why does the winner of the Madrid Masters need half a million dollars as a pay check? Surely a quarter of a mil is ample then the rest of the money could go back through the draw. The guys who not only lost early in the Main Draw but the Qualifiers are the players who need to be looked after the most. These guys unless they pick up a reasonable amount per tournament will not be able to afford to keep playing so the next Roger Federer playing somewhere in an obscure tournament in Brazil may never actually be discovered.
It's obvious that Lleyton Hewitt can't match it anymore with the big boys but i think he and his wife enjoy the pay days too much to let them go just yet. Let's not forget lifestyle also, jet setting to exotic countries each week isn't a bad way to live.
Tennis looks after the Champions and even the guys who get knocked out early in the bigger tournaments but the game is not looking after the players who really matter, the less credentialed guys who will be the players to watch in the future . Let's hope for the game's sake that these players keep winning enough in little tournaments in Brazil to keep them afloat until their pay days become the stuff dreams are made of, we can only hope.......