Tender Maulings

PTT Thailand Open, First Round

(1) Murray d. Bye

Following a few brief weeks in which Andy Murray played little and complained a lot – endeavouring to draw from that vast well of public sympathy replenished whenever multi-millionaire athletes cry poor – he has turned up as the top seed at the PTT Thailand Open in Bangkok. Given the paucity of top talent in the draw, one imagines he is a certainty to win it, but really, given his recent comments, I suspect it isn’t a title he truly covets. He has earned plenty just by showing up.

Nowhere is it reliably disclosed just how much the top players make in appearance fees, but it is known to be significant, in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars, an amount that can exceed the winner’s prize at smaller 250 events. Murray of course will not reveal just how much it took to entice him to Thailand this week. He has lately decried the mandatory nature of the Masters 1000 events, since these tournaments are under no compulsion to offer appearance fees to top players, who are obliged to turn up anyway. He also complained that there are no easy matches at the Masters, thus both getting the point and missing it simultaneously. The quality of the match-ups is why the Masters 1000s are the ATP’s premiere products. For those of us following the game, good matches are really the thing. We like them. Sadly, the irony is that the events so often fail to live up to their potential, although this irony is eclipsed by the fact that the Masters 1000 format is precisely where Murray made a name for himself. He’s won seven of them, and as far as I can tell he has made some decent money doing so.

Murray is due at the Shanghai Masters in a couple weeks, there to defend the title he won in such ferocious fashion last year, utterly mauling Federer in the final. Tender from more recent maulings, Federer is not showing up this year, and neither is Djokovic. Nadal remains on the entry list, but given his exertions of late there is every chance he will be a no-show, too. If that transpires, the responsibility will fall to Murray that the tournament does not fall to someone outside of the anointed top four, who have won all but one of these events going back to March last year, or 13 of the last 14. Given that one of those four always wins, it’s hard to believe that the match-ups are really all that savage, at least until they have to face each other. If Murray retains his title, he will move to within striking distance of Federer in the rankings. He will also earn about $88,000 per day, although this assumes a seven day tournament.

If it goes longer, Murray will presumably demand more cash. Among his more questionable recent contentions was the idea that if the US Open was to begin a day earlier, then the players should be paid more, for the extra day of work. Assuming that the extra day would not require anyone to play an extra round, I can’t quite see what he’s getting at. He would still need to win seven matches to take the title, or, more accurately in Murray’s case, six matches in order to reach the final and fold dismally. These guys aren’t on a wage.

Murray’s assault on the Bangkok title began with a Bye, for which he will pocket a touch over $6,000.

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