Agassi: Kafelnikov needs to buy some perspective
Updated: Wednesday February 14, 2001 2:41 PM
MELBOURNE, Australia (CNNSI) -- Andre Agassi had some harsh words for Yevgeny Kafelnikov one day after the Russian said that the prize money in men's tennis was way too low.
"My feelings are he should take his prize money when he's done here and go buy some perspective," the defending Australian Open champion said Friday.
This week, players at the season-opening Grand Slam in Melbourne haven't shied away from sharing thoughts in post-match news conferences about a divisive topic: how much they should get paid.
The winners of the men's and women's draws at the Australian Open will each collect US$473,385. Some players feel that's way too low when compared with the take in other major sports, golf included.
On Thursday, Kafelnikov described prize money in tennis as "ridiculous" and said golfers at a low-level PGA tournament in the United States get about 10 times as much as players in a similar tennis competition.
Kafelnikov, who turned pro in 1992, has earned more than US$18 million in his career.
Jeff Tarango, No. 92 in the world, shares Kafelnikov's view. In an article in an Australian newspaper earlier this week, he said grassroots tennis would benefit if early losers get bigger payoffs.
He also said the big sports leagues in North America earmark a much higher percentage of gross revenues to players compared to the tennis world. Tennis officials say they spend a lot of money on facilities and developing young talent.
Tarango lost in the first round in Melbourne, earning US$7,290. He has amassed more than US$3.25 million in prize money since turning pro in 1989.
Lindsay Davenport, the defending Australian Open champion, said U.S. Open organizers make hundreds of millions of dollars but award only US$750,000 to the winners.
"In some cases the prize money in the Grand Slams could go up," she said. "I don't think that's outrageous although it sounds like it when a person reads it in the paper."
But Agassi, a six-time Grand Slam winner who has collected more than US$21 million, criticized Kafelnikov for suggesting that other players shared the view that they should be paid more.
"I don't speak for anybody but myself and I don't like anybody speaking for me. I was clear with Yevgeny this morning that when he speaks for the players, say one phrase: 'Except for Andre.'
"I'd be hardpressed ever to spend time with a person who thinks making hundreds of thousands of dollars is not enough money," said Agassi, who earned a fourth round berth after David Prinosil pulled out of their match Friday because of heat exhaustion.
Todd Martin, a third-round winner over Cedric Pioline, agreed.
"We get paid handsomely for what we do," the American said. "It rubs me the wrong way. Everybody in the entertainment business is overpaid."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.