Major reductions in prize money will be tennis players’ new reality when the ATP and WTA Tours start again, according to Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez.
“We have to understand that tennis is not going to be the same, at least for one, two, three years. I don't know how long,” Lopez, who should have been preparing to defend his Queen's Club title next week, said on Sunday.
No professional tennis has been played since March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Wimbledon was the first Grand Slam to announce a cancellation and the shutdown is set to continue into August.
The French Open will see a resumption in September. A decision over whether the US Open can go ahead in late August is likely to be announced next week.
Lopez, who is also tournament director of the Madrid Open, says that when the things come back to normal, prize money will be reduced as sponsors are going to try and find their way out of the economic fallout of the virus.
“The companies and the sponsors, they might have to fire employees,” the 38-year-old Lopez was quoted as saying by the BBC. “This is happening everywhere in the world so the first thing they cut is sponsorship, and this is going to be affecting tennis massively.
“We need to survive this moment and we need to be united. The players need to understand that it's going to be a significant reduction in the prize money. I see now the scenario where tournaments will survive with a significant reduction in prize money -- not only for this year, but also for [the] 2021 season.”
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Lopez believes the US Open will take place even despite his compatriot and four time champion Rafael Nadal expressing his reservations over the event. Nadal has expressed his concerns about travelling to New York under the given circumstances.
World number one Novak Djokovic has expressed doubts about the tournament taking place.
“I think the US Open knows there might be many players that don't want to go and play there,” Lopez said. “But I think the tournament is not depending on only the top players playing. My personal opinion is that they are planning to have the event thinking that some of the top players -- I don't know how many -- might not play.”
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