LONDON: Roger Federer (pictured) has vowed to investigate the ATP’s controversial decision to reject an offer to increase prize money at the Indian Wells tournament.
The issue of prize money has been a hot topic for the last 12 months as stars like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic push for the four Grand Slams to raise the financial rewards on offer.
As president of the ATP players’ council, Federer has been keen to ensure any increase in prize money is spread equally among the lower-ranked players as well as the leading names.
And the players, who had talked at times of considering strike action to make their point, appeared to be winning the battle as Wimbledon and the Australian, French and US Opens all opened up the coffers to improve prize money this year.
But the ATP delivered a surprise blow to the cause earlier this month when it was revealed that organisers of the Indian Wells event in California -- one of the ATP’s flagship Masters 1000 tournaments -- had been snubbed when they offered to improve the total prize money pot by £1m ($1.6m), meaning an extra $800,000 each for the men’s and women’s competitions.
The decision was reportedly taken because the tournament wanted to give more to those losing in the earlier rounds in contravention of ATP rules, but many players are said to be furious about the move and Federer plans to ask questions in a bid to resolve the problem.
“For me, I was a bit surprised to hear that,” Federer said after his win over David Ferrer at the ATP Tour Finals in London late on Thursday evening at the 02 Arena.
“Obviously, I wasn’t in the room when everything went down because it’s at the board level, at the CEO level.
“What I can tell you is I will investigate and make sure that the decision they’ve taken is, indeed, the right one.
“If it’s not, then obviously we need to talk about it and what we can do in the future. It’s an important issue.”
Former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, the Czech fifth seed at the Tour Finals, also took issue with the ATP’s decision when asked about the situation earlier in the week.
“That’s what we all looking for. If there is someone who is able to increase it, bring something more to us players, then I don’t see any reason why someone could be saying, ‘No, it’s not good idea’,” Berdych said.
“I don’t see any reason why there should be a problem with that. That’s probably the goal of all of us. I mean, if there is someone who is able to do it, why to say no?”
The Swiss has also set his sights on more indoor glory. Few players have ever been more at home on the indoor courts than Federer and once again he is thriving under the domed roof of the O2 Arena in south-east London, where he has won the Tour Finals for the last two years.
In total, Federer has won 20 indoor titles during his illustrious career and the 31-year-old admits he is more comfortable than most playing under roofs after growing up on covered tennis courts.
“Indoors I’ve been very successful over the years. Probably won the most titles indoors, maybe more than all the other guys combined,” Federer said.
“The margins actually are smaller indoors normally because a guy can really get hot, can serve well.
“But I think indoors is a natural surface for me. So is clay actually, because those were the two surfaces I grew up on.
“In the summers, I used to play on the clay courts outdoors, and in the winters, I played indoors on carpet, when I was young. I guess this is where it kind of comes through a little bit for me.
“I also had my first success on the tour actually indoors back in Marseille and Rotterdam and Basel and Toulouse.
“Outdoors I’m actually amazed how good I’ve become in the wind and humidity.
“That, for me, was the tough part, actually becoming a good player in those conditions.”