Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez says tennis players will face significant reductions in prize money when the ATP and WTA Tours resume.
No professional tournaments have been held since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the shutdown currently set to continue until August.
Wimbledon has been cancelled altogether, the French Open has been moved to September while a decision over whether the US Open can go ahead in late August is expected next week.
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“We have to understand that tennis is not going to be the same, at least for one, two, three years. I don’t know how long,” Lopez, who should have been preparing to defend his Queen’s Club title next week, said on Sunday.
The world No 56 – who also won the doubles title alongside Andy Murray last year – is tournament director of the Madrid Open, and says that even when things return to some kind of normal, prize money will be reduced as sponsors try to navigate the economic fallout of the virus.
“The companies and the sponsors, they might have to fire employees,” the 38-year-old was quoted as saying by the BBC.
“This is happening everywhere in the world so the first thing they cut is sponsorship, and this is going to be affecting tennis massively.
“We need to survive this moment and we need to be united. The players need to understand that it’s going to be a significant reduction in the prize money.
“I see now the scenario where tournaments will survive with a significant reduction in prize money – not only for this year, but also for (the) 2021 season.”
‘US Open not reliant on top players playing’
Lopez believes the US Open will go ahead despite the reservations of his compatriot Rafa Nadal – the defending champion – who says he would not be happy to travel to New York in the current circumstances.
World No 1 Novak Djokovic has also expressed his doubts about the tournament going ahead.
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