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ATP Board reverses course, approves Indian Wells prize money hike

After voting down a proposed prize money increase offered by the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in November, the ATP Board of Directors has changed course, voting to approve the purse hike to $5.03 million for 2013. The decision comes two weeks after the tournament threatened to lower its prize money offer to 2011 levels if the ATP refused to agree to the tournament's proposal.

As a result of the approval, both the ATP and WTA will see $860,000 of additional prize money when the tournament begins in March, and the distribution levels ensures that every player in every round of the men's singles and doubles events will earn above the minimum prize money levels.

The dispute has been a confusing one to watch unfold, as the ATP's initial decision to decline the increased prize money was driven by the tournament representatives on the Board of Directors. The board is comprised of three player representatives, three tournament representatives, and ATP Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett. While the three player representatives voted for the increase, the tournament representatives voted against it and Drewett abstained from breaking the deadlock, drawing charges of anti-competitive behavior from Raymond Moore, CEO of the BNP Paribas Open. The only explanation offered by the ATP for their decision was a concern over how that money would be distributed across rounds and between singles and doubles.

As a result the ATP also announced it would review new rules for situations in which a tournament wants to deviate from the Tour's rules on prize money distribution. In this situation, Moore explained the ATP was concerned that the tournament wanted an 82-18 split between singles and doubles, as opposed to the 80-20 split mandated by the ATP's rules.

“The unique set of circumstances generated by the Indian Wells case has prompted us to seek to provide a permanent rule that will account for similar cases arising at ATP World Tour events in the future," said Brad Drewett, Executive Chairman and President of the ATP. "For the long term benefit of both our players and tournaments, it’s important to establish a rule that can provide suitable parameters for similar requests to be processed in years ahead."

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