The U.S. Open won’t set an attendance record because of the pandemic, but will do so in prize money.
The USTA announced Monday the Open will offer $57.5 million in total player compensation for the tournament, which starts Monday in Queens. It surpasses the record payout of $57.24 million set in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 disruptions.
The USTA said it worked with the WTA and ATP tours to reallocate prize money. The biggest change is the Open’s qualifying tournament will now offer nearly $6 million in prize money, a 66 percent increase over 2019. (The qualifier was not held last year due to the pandemic).
Open officials are expecting a slight decrease in attendance of past years because of the restrictions on international tourists coming to New York, according to sources.
The qualifier, a popular free event at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, begins Tuesday. The qualifier will be closed to the public this year because of the number of players on site — the main-draw participants who are practicing and qualifier entrants — makes for too much congestion.
The remainder of the spike in prize money comes in the first round. A first-round loser will get $75,000 or a 23 percent increase over last year. To achieve these new numbers, the players agreed to decrease the singles champion’s prize from $3 million to $2.5 million. The runner-up prize money also is being reduced, to $1.25 million.
Since 1973, the Open has provided equal prize money for both women and men. The Open was the first of the four majors to do so.
This year’s Open will not feature the popular Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day normally staged the Saturday before the main event. The Open draw is Thursday and also won’t have any of the usual pomp and circumstance — just a press release detailing the matchups.
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