The 2014 French Open promises plenty of competition in both the men's and women's draws, and those participating will be rewarded handsomely.
According to the FFT (via RolandGarros.com), the purse for this year's tournament will increase significantly compared to 2013.
The overall purse of €25,018,900 is a €3 million improvement from last year. Per USA Today (via the Associated Press), that equates to a $34.5 million purse with an increase of $4.1 million.
Also, the men's and women's singles champions will earn €1,650,000 ($2,244,000) apiece, which is a 10 percent increase from 2013 according to Julien Pretot of Reuters.
Even the runners-up will receive a nice boost with winnings of €825,000, or $1,122,000.
Are you surprised by the significant French Open purse increase?
As lucrative as this tournament will be for those who advance deep into the event, the true winners will be players who are eliminated early, as their earnings will increase anywhere from 20 percent to 25 percent.
According to RolandGarros.com, tournament director Gilbert Ysern made this a priority.
"This significant raise in the prize money at Roland Garros is part of the four-year plan which we established for 2013–2016," Ysern said. "It is specifically designed to benefit players who are knocked out in the first week."
The improved payouts place even greater importance than usual on simply making the tournament. Gaining entry to a Grand Slam event is absolutely huge for younger and lower-ranked players, but a 20 percent pay increase makes it an even bigger deal for qualifiers.
In terms of those chasing the big prize, however, there are a few players in each draw who have a legitimate chance.
Rafael Nadal knows a thing or two about taking the winner's purse, having won the French Open eight times, including the last four consecutively. Making it five won't necessarily be easy, though.
As pointed out by Craig O'Shannessy of The New York Times, Nadal's potential path is challenging:
The same can be said for the bulk of the contenders on the men's side. The top five or six players are so close in skill level right now that it will make for a highly intriguing tourney.
Williams and Sharapova met in the final at Roland Garros last year; however, they are on track to face each other much earlier in 2014.
Sharapova has been dominant on clay this season, but since she missed tournaments due to injury (per Kamakshi Tandon of Tennis.com), she is only a No. 7 seed. This led to her being placed in Williams' quarter, which could lead to a quarterfinal clash between them, according to the BBC's Russell Fuller:
Heavy workload for Serena Williams here in Paris: she could play Venus in R3 and Maria Sharapova in the QF, in a repeat of last year's final— Russell Fuller (@russellcfuller) May 23, 2014
As great as that match will be if it comes to fruition, it would be unfortunate for the loser since it can certainly be argued that they deserve finalist status based on their 2014 accomplishments.
The top players in both draws obviously already have a ton of money, so glory will likely be on their minds more than anything.
However, the extra cash won't hurt.
If anything, the across-the-board purse increase speaks to the growing popularity of tennis throughout the world. It truly is a global sport and seemingly gets bigger with each passing year.
Not only is there more competition at the top than ever, but the depth of talent throughout both tours is impressive. That is a significant reason why it is nice to see even the lower-level players getting a bigger piece of the pie.
Monetary gain may not be the predominating mindset when the players actually take the court at Roland Garros, but this is definitely a positive sign for tennis going forward.
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