Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to lose out if they win French Open despite prize boost

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Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic could end up walking away from the French Open worse off than previous years despite a big boost in the tournament’s overall prize money. Compared to the last pre-pandemic edition of the Grand Slam, the overall pot has increased by almost seven percent but the champion will be losing out with a decrease on 2019’s winner’s cheque.

The French Federation of Tennis announced on Wednesday that £37 million (€43.6 million) would be on offer across the French Open this year – up 6.8 percent from 2019, the last time the tournament was played with ‘normal’ pre-pandemic capacity. But the winner will be receiving £85,000 (€100,000) less than they did three years ago.

When Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem to win his then-12th French Open title three years ago, he pocketed £1,952,000 (€2.3m) but the champion this year will instead take home £1,867,000 (€2.2m). But the winner’s cheque is still £594,000 (€700,000) more than it was last year, when Djokovic won the reduced champion’s prize money as the tournament was still restricted by the Covid pandemic.

While this year’s champion will be receiving less than they did in the last ‘normal’ edition of the clay-court Major, players in the earlier rounds will be banking bigger cheques this time around. Three years ago, a first-round loser pocketed £39,000 (€46,000) but will take home £53,000 (€62,000) this time around.

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Only the champion and runner-up will be worse off than in 2019 with the new enhanced prize pot, as Thiem earned £1m (€1.18m) in 2019 but this year’s finalist will get £934k (€1.1m). In 2019 the semi-finalists, which were Djokovic and Roger Federer, received £500,733 (€590,000) but the prize has been boosted slightly this year, to £509,220 (€600,000).

In qualifying, the overall prize money pot is up 66 percent compared to 2019, with £12,000 (€14,000), £17,000 (€20,000) and £26,000 (€31,000) paid out across the three rounds, compared to £5,900 (€7,000), £10,400 (€12,250) and £20,400 (€24,000) in the past pre-pandemic French Open.

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Announcing the boost in the overall prize pot, the FFT said: “The increase in prize money for the first round of the singles main draws and the qualifying competitions is designed to help the players who have suffered the most as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” referring to those ranked at lower levels.

The French Open begins on May 22, with Djokovic hoping to defend his title from last year and equal Nadal’s all-time record of 21 Major titles, while Barbora Krejcikova is the defending champion on the women’s side. There is also some more good news for players, who will be able to stay in their accommodation of choice for the first time in three years, after designated player hotels were required in 2020 and 2021.

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