New York, Sep 3 (IANS) Most players on the professional tennis circuit struggle to make ends meet because of the crippling expenses of life on tour, says rising Australian star John Millman.
In a week where 10 of Australia’s 14 US Open main round contenders were felled in the first round, Millman has detailed how financing their tennis careers bleeds players dry until they crack the top 100, reports
It costs about $160,000 a year to survive on the tour, and only about the top 150 players turn any type of profit, the rest barely breaking even or making a loss according to the International Tennis Federation.
Millman, who is in the middle of the best year of his career having earned $166,839 and soared to 72nd in the world, said the cost of international travel, accommodation, training and coaching is crippling, with some players sleeping on floors just to play in a tournament.
“The majority of players feel like they’re broke. It isn’t just what we see on TV most of the time the glamour side, you forget the other side to it which is a struggle,” Millman was quoted as saying by news.com.au on Wednesday.
While Australia’s top tier players like Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic and Sam Stosur rake in big money, the second tier players just about manage to break even.
Before even qualifying for the US Open this year, Kyrgios had earned $854k in prize money, which doesn’t include sponsorships. Stosur had earned $665k, and Tomic $885k.
It’s a long way from Serbian world No.1 Novak Djokovic who has made $10m this year, but also a far cry from their second tier Australian fellow players.
In that category, there’s Millman, who was sitting on $166k, James Duckworth on $269k, Matt Ebden on $139k and John-Patrick Smith on $145k all before their first round US Open losses.
The grand slams are significantly more lucrative than regular tournaments, with the players receiving $39,000 for playing in round one. Most tournaments yield less than $5000 in round one, most of which goes on travel and costs.
Over the course of years eight years on the protour, Millman has earned $428k.
“I know a lot of players who have had to quit pretty early because of how expensive it can get,” Millman said.
“We’ve had to find other ways. I know when I first started out I had to find ways to make ends meet. I played club tennis, to help finance myself a bit. That, and really you’d sleep on floors of train stations and all of that,” he said.
“People do it because they love it. That’s the only reason I would say you can keep at it,” Millman concluded.