Reduced prize money 'best' tennis can expect, says Lopez

Paris (AFP) –


Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez said on Monday that the vastly reduced prize money on offer for tennis players is the "best we can have" after setting up a Paris Masters second-round tie against Rafael Nadal.

The final ATP Masters event of the season started at Bercy Arena on Monday behind closed doors and just days after France began a second coronavirus lockdown.

The winner of this year's tournament will pocket just over 20 percent of the cheque taken home by 2019 champion Novak Djokovic.

"I want to be clear. I think this is... The best we can have right now," Lopez said after his 7-6 (13/11), 6-1 first-round win over former runner-up Filip Krajinovic.

"We have to be aware of the situation that the world is living and how everyone is facing these challenging times around the world.

"For now I don't see any hope on prize money. I think it will stay the same for a while."

Paris Masters tournament director Guy Forget has said that the event had been helped financially by the other Masters series events and the ATP.

Organisers were expecting to welcome 1,000 fans each day to Bercy Arena, but instead had to refund the tickets after French President Emmanuel Macron announced the new lockdown measures last week.

But Lopez says that players need to count themselves lucky to be able to play at all, after the ATP and WTA Tours were suspended between March and August earlier this year.

"This is not only tennis. It's a problem that is affecting every single person in the world. People are dying," added the 39-year-old, who is also the tournament director of the Madrid Open.

"I think it's fair to say that we are very fortunate and we are very lucky.

"First of all, we are able to play, and of course we have a significant reduction in the prize money. But I think it will stay the same.

"It has to stay the same, because the tournaments, they cannot do better. This is what it is right now."

Lopez will face Nadal on Wednesday in his fellow Spaniard's first match since winning a record-extending 13th French Open title last month.

The world number 64 has beaten Nadal on four occasions, including in each of their last two meetings.