In terms of prize money for its top players, tennis as a sport is getting richer and richer. A look at the progress of cash rewards handed out for the grand slam tournaments is proof enough. Year after year, the four big tourneys have been increasing their total purses for participants, with Wimbledon topping the other three this year as it enlarged its offering from 2012 to 2013 by a whopping 40%. This made Wimbledon the richest event in tennis with its $34 million total prize money.
And the trend looks to continue. In October 2013, Australian Open organizers announced that they would increase its total prize money by $3 million, bringing its overall player compensation to $31 million in 2014, an increase of over 14%.
It’s also interesting to note that the player who collected the most prize money in 2013 earned the highest amount ever for any tennis player in one season, his total being $1.7 million more than the previous record holder who set it in 2012. That’s more than a 13% jump from 2012 to 2013.
More than just indicating how much a tennis player has increased his bank account, a player’s prize money for a year is also an adequate indicator of how well he played in that period. In fact, annual prize money earned can even serve as some sort of a standard for how well a player ought to do in the year to come.
Looking back at the year-end totals for last year, Novak Djokovic was on top after earning a record-breaking $9.9 million.
Here are the year-end totals for the top 10 of 2012:
1. Novak Djokovic / $9,949,921
2. Roger Federer / $7,424,842
3. Andy Murray / $5,100,272
4. Rafael Nadal / $4,867,663
5. David Ferrer / $4,015,856
6. Juan Martin del Potro / $2,769,169
7. Tomas Berdych / $2,555,801
8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga / $2,130,514
9. Janko Tipsarevic / $1,736,150
10. Richard Gasquet / $1,320,368
So which players increased their annual prize money totals and which ones had to settle for a little less cash in 2013? Read on to find out.
10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 2013 Winnings: $1,753,946
It wasn’t a particularly good year for Jo-Wilfred Tsonga as he was ranked as high as #6 at the end of 2011. However, he did enjoy some highlights in 2013 as he won the Marseille tournament in February after saving match points in two different rounds - one of them being Tomas Berdych's championship point in the final. Tsonga also made it to the semifinals of the 2013 French Open before losing to Spain’s David Ferrer in straight sets. Big Jo could have actually added to his total prize money had he not missed this year's US Open due to a left knee injury.
9 Richard Gasquet - 2013 Winnings: $2,661,899
Richard Gasquet can mark 2013 as the year he regained his form, ending a season inside the top 10 for the first time since 2007. The year was also highlighted by titles in Doha, Montpellier, and Moscow – the first time Gasquet has won three titles in a season since 2006. Things are certainly looking up for the 27-year-old Frenchman with arguably the most beautiful-looking backhand in the game today.
8 Stanislas Wawrinka – 2013 Winnings: $2,880,925
2013 was certainly a banner year for Stanislas Wawrinka as he ended the season with the highest ranking he has ever achieved. This qualified him for the first year-end top-8 ATP World Tour Final of his career. The impressive finish is a result of a title in Oeiras, Portugal and his first semifinal in a grand slam tournament, which he achieved during the 2013 U.S. Open, beating defending champion Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.
Indicating just how lucrative 2013 was for him, Stan's winnings from this year make up more than 30% of the total prize money he has won throughout his 12-year professional tennis career.
7 Tomas Berdych - 2013 Winnings: $2,977,405
One criticism often hurled against Tomas Berdych is that while he's been in the top 10 for four straight years running now, he simply can't win his most important matches. And 2013 certainly won't help stop the critics from giving him such flak as the Czech didn't win a single title during the season, despite reaching three finals.
There doesn't seem to be anything fundamentally wrong with Berdych's game that would prevent him from seriously challenging for a grand slam title. In spite of his shortcomings under pressure, Berdych still has $16 million in career prize money to enjoy at the end of the day.
6 Roger Federer - 2013 Winnings: $3,203,637
Most professional tennis players would consider ending the year ranked #6 in the world and winning more than $3 million in prize money in just one season to be unbelievable achievements, but by R-Fed's lofty standards, 2013 was an utterly disappointing year. After all, Federer has won a record-breaking 17 grand slam titles in his career, reaching a grand slam final at least once each year from 2003 to 2012. His year-end ranking in that period was never lower than number three, and his annual prize money total never dipped below $4 million.
In 2013: zero grand slam tournament finals, a year-end ranking of sixth, and the lowest total prize money he has earned since 2002.
In recent months, the calls for Federer to retire so that he can save some face have been mounting. But who knows? Maybe the player considered by many to be the best of all time still has some good tennis to play and some good tennis money to win.
5 Juan Martin del Potro - 2013 Winnings: $4,294,039
Since 2005, only five men have won a grand slam singles title: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray -- and Juan Martin del Potro, who won the US Open in 2009. And yet, Delpo isn't widely considered to be among the world's top players. With tennis pundits often only referring to "the big four," del Potro is routinely excluded from the prestigious list.
Having won four titles in 2013, however, "the Tower" seems to be on the verge of claiming his rightful place among the men's tennis elite. And with a powerful forehand like no other, it won't be all that surprising if Juan Martin del Potro makes his big move in 2014.
4 David Ferrer - 2013 Winnings: $4,868,953
David Ferrer ended 2013 with a career-high #3 ranking on the heels of wins in Buenos Aires and Auckland. He also reached seven other finals, one of them being his first ever grand slam final appearance at this year's French Open.
Ferrer, however, is the only player in the year-end top six who has never won a grand slam tournament. If he's going to pluck one in 2014, it seems to be less a matter of whether or not Ferrer can play consistently well enough to do so -- he's played consistently well on all surfaces throughout most of his career. It seems to be really a question of whether or not the top players in the game will be inconsistent enough to let Ferrer sneak one in.
Adding to his almost $22 million in career prize money will almost certainly keep this Spaniard motivated in the coming year.
3 Andy Murray - 2013 Winnings: $5,416,221
Andy Murray won four titles in the recently-concluded season, and while that total may be considered a so-so number for someone of his stature, one of them broke a 75-year curse. Murray won Wimbledon - the first time a Brit had done so since Fred Perry's feat in 1936.
Unfortunately, Murray was unable to complete the season as he underwent minor back surgery in September, causing him to miss the lucrative year-end ATP Tour Finals.
Nevertheless, despite his Wimbledon win being listed to have added "only" £1,600,000 to Murray's total prize money for 2013, his earning capacity as an endorser has skyrocketed due to his big win at the all-England Club. Murray's status in Britain is now only a step below that of sainthood following his historic victory.
2 Novak Djokovic - 2013 Winnings: $12,447,947
Novak Djokovic may have lost the year-end #1 ranking that he held in 2011 and 2012, but this year is certainly one that Djokovic is still likely to look back at with fondness. 2013 saw Nole capturing his fourth Australian Open championship as well as six other titles. 2014 is looking extra rosy for the Serb, who ended 2013 with a 24-match winning streak and his second ATP World Tour Final championship.
For sure Djokovic will look to reclaim the #1 ranking as soon as he can, and chances are that in the process he'll be adding another huge sum to his already unbelievable $58,134,445 in career prize money.
1 Rafael Nadal - 2013 Winnings: $14,570,935
Reclaiming the #1 ranking in 2013 seemed to be beyond Rafa's reach at the beginning of the season, as he was coming back from a seven-month absence due to a left-knee injury that caused him to miss the year's opening grand slam tourney, the Australian Open. However, he blazed through the part of the season that he did play in by winning 10 titles, including his second US Open and his eighth French Open (a record number for any grand slam tournament). These victories upped the popular Spaniard's total to 13 grand slam singles titles, just four shy of Federer's record 17.
It is also worth nothing that the more than $14.5 million prize money Nadal collected in 2013 is the most that any tennis player has been able to win in a single season.