Matt Brown: In defence of Novak Djokovic

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Novak Djokovic kisses his trophy after winning the final at the BNP Paribas Open. Photo / AP
Novak Djokovic kisses his trophy after winning the final at the BNP Paribas Open. Photo / AP

Novak Djokovic has courted controversy with his remarks questioning equal prize money in tennis.

The world number one says "the ATP should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men's tennis matches".

He is referring to the prize money on offer at the joint ATP/WTA tour events in Indian Wells, Miami, Rome, Madrid and Cincinnati where the men and women earn the same.

His comments followed the bigoted remarks of Indian Wells tournament director Ray Moore suggesting the women players "ride on the coattails of the men's" and should get on a knee to "thank God for the presence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the sport."

The WTA Tour fought hard to gain equal prize money at the Grand Slams. The players play the same amount of matches in these high profile tournaments which generate millions of dollars in income. They should be paid the same in the slams, no argument.

But Djokovic does have a point, regarding the prize money in the combined tour events.
It is widely known that the men's ATP tour generates significantly more money than the women's tour. Its broadcast deals and sponsorship are bigger and the tournaments attract more fans. Even the combined events such as Indian Wells see much bigger crowds for the men's matches.

Tournaments on the ATP and WTA tour should have the right to pay players whatever they want within their budget restraints. If a men's event of the same stature can generate significantly more revenue, why shouldn't the players earn a greater share of it? The same should apply if the women's event was more popular.

Djokovic lauded the WTA for fighting for equality over the last few years and getting it at the Grand Slams, and he's simply arguing that the ATP should fight for what the players think they deserve in their tournaments.

- Matt Brown is Radio Sport's tennis commentator

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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