Gimelstob says extra day should mean extra pay
PARIS -- ATP Player Council member Justin Gimelstob thinks that if Grand Slam tournaments are going to follow the French Open's lead and add a 15th day of action, the players should get something in return: money.
The French Open began Sunday, a day earlier than usual, to sell more tickets and increase TV exposure.
"The whole Sunday thing, without the players getting much benefit -- I'm still not quite sure how they slipped that one by us," Gimelstob said after losing 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to Alejandro Falla of Colombia on Monday. "It's one thing if we are getting a direct benefit, but it really seems like [tournament organizers are] the only ones getting the benefit. It's kind of like a favor we're doing them, and we'll see how it works out."
So what sort of "benefit" would Gimelstob like to see players receive?
"Prize money, in general," he said, adding that perhaps the U.S. Open could add a day of rest at the end of the tournament between the men's semifinals and final.
Reigning French Open champion Rafael Nadal likes the idea of starting Sunday, but he added: "It wouldn't be right if the tournament starts making more money and we keep on earning the same."
Meanwhile, if it were up to the French public, all of the men and women competing at Roland Garros would receive equal pay.
This year, for the first time, the men's and women's singles champions will get the same amount: 940,000 euros (about $1.2 million). But men earn more than women through all of the earlier rounds.
According to a poll conducted by Ipsos and released Monday by the WTA Tour, 90 percent of more than 1,000 people polled in France think prize money should be equal throughout the tournament.
According to the polling company, 84 percent of those surveyed think equal prize across the board at Roland Garros would send a positive message to women and girls in France. Forty percent believe the women's game is more appealing than the men's in terms of star power and recognition.
Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam where pay for men and women is different in every round, including the finals. The Australian Open and U.S. Open offer equal prize money throughout their events.
Two French men in action Monday questioned whether women should be paid the same. Sebastien Grosjean, the No. 21 seed, made the case that there is a bigger gap in the women's game between the top players and the rest.
"You could think if they want to be perfectly equal, they should play five sets and be equal all the way around -- play five sets the same as us," Michael Llodra said. "I don't watch women's matches, in any case. I just look at the results."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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