If you are a professional tennis player, there is money waiting for you Down Under.
The 2015 Australian Open kicks off Monday as the first Grand Slam on the 2015 calendar, and it is offering the richest purse in tennis history. While the $40 million prize pool total and $3.1 million awaiting the men’s and women’s champions will draw the most headlines, the fact that even first-round losers will receive $34,500 is fairly incredible.
Here is a look at the prize money for the 2015 version compared to past years, via the tournament’s official website:
|2015 Australian Open Prize Money|
|Singles-Men's and Women's-per player-128 draw|
|Round of 16||$109,250||$125,000||$135,000||$175,000|
|Round of 32||$54,625||$71,000||$75,000||$97,500|
|Round of 64||$33,300||$45,500||$50,000||$60,000|
|Singles-Qualifying men-per player-128 draw|
|Singles-Qualifying women-per player-96 draw|
|Double-Men's and Women's-per pair-64 draw|
|Round of 16||$31,500||$33,500||$36,000||$39,000|
|Round of 32||$17,200||$19,500||$21,000||$23,000|
|Mixed Doubles-per pair-32 draw|
|Round of 16||$7,800||$7,800||$7,800||$8,200|
|Per Diem (estimated), fees and trophies|
|Total player compensation|
Player to Watch: Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal will be an intriguing case study at the Australian Open. He is one of the greatest tennis players of all time by almost any metric but also one who cannot be considered a favorite until he proves he is healthy again.
Nadal has 14 Grand Slam titles on his illustrious resume, including the 2009 Australian Open, but he missed the second half of 2014 with a number of injuries.
Nadal injured his right wrist, needed appendix surgery and then received stem cell treatment on the cartilage in his back. Despite the physical ailments, Nadal still managed to win his ninth French Open and three other titles early in the year, but it was a different story down the stretch.
Nadal commented on his own status for this tournament and didn’t seem too optimistic, according to The Associated Press, via ESPN.com: "I don't consider myself one of the favorites here. I would be lying if I say I feel that I am ready to win."
The injuries likely contributed to that pessimism, but he also lost his season-opener at the Qatar Open to qualifier Michael Berrer. It's safe to say that’s not how the Australian Open tuneup was supposed to unfold for the former champion.
What’s more, if Nadal was looking for a cupcake in the first round Down Under, he didn’t get it. He will face former top-10 player, Mikhail Youzhny, in a tricky match. The 32-year-old Youzhny is no longer on the top of his game, but he has experienced success before in his career and won’t be afraid of the moment against Nadal.
Chris Chase of USA Today did make sure to point out that Nadal has bounced back from a major injury before in a big way on one of tennis’ brightest stages:
Since he started winning Slams in 2005, Nadal has missed a major and then returned to play three times. He made it to the semis of the 2009 U.S. Open after missing that year’s Wimbledon, but won the French Open in 2006 and 2013 after being out of previous Slams.
Granted, Nadal could still win the French Open playing on one foot and switching hands like Inigo Montoya and the Dread Pirate Roberts, but still, injury hasn’t slowed him before.
This time around will be more difficult because he is older (28 years), is dealing with a variety of injuries and has a difficult path just to get to the semifinals. He could potentially face Lukas Rosol, who beat Nadal in the second round of Wimbledon in 2012, in the third round and Richard Gasquet or Kevin Anderson in the fourth round.
While Gasquet or Anderson will never be mistaken for Novak Djokovic, both have impressive serves that could force the ailing Nadal to cover a lot of space on the court and physically wear him out.
Of course, if Nadal does get past all of those landmines, there is a potential semifinals matchup with Roger Federer and a possible finals showdown with Djokovic. Asking Nadal to navigate that draw at this stage of his comeback will ultimately prove to be too difficult, but a few wins would be monumental for his confidence.
A confident Nadal would be all but a lock to at least win the French Open yet again.
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