Juju express not good moneywise
Nadal thriller re-ignites women's equal prize money battle
Press Trust of India
Posted online: Monday, June 06, 2005 at 1523 hours IST
Paris, June 6: Rafael Nadal's thrilling French Open triumph is set to re-ignite the explosive war of words over equal prize money for men and women at the grand slams.
Nadal earned 880,000 euros after beating Mariano Puerta 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5 in a 3hr 24min final filled to the brim with drama, tension and scintillating exchanges.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne pocketed a cheque for 867,000 euros for a 6-1, 6-1 mismatch against a woeful Mary Pierce in a final which was all over in 62 minutes.
Last year, Gaston Gaudio recovered from two sets down and saved two match points to beat Argentine compatriot Guillermo Coria over five sets taking up 3hr 31 min.
In the women's final, Anastasia Myskina had brushed aside Russian team mate Elena Dementieva 6-1, 6-2 in 58 minutes.
At the moment, only the US Open, the Australian Open as well as the tour event in Dubai pay their men and women champions the same money.
Wimbledon and the French Open maintain the women's prize funds fractionally below that of the men's.
At Wimbledon this year, the men's champion will receive 933,500 euros; the women's winner will take home 890,000.
In the women's semi-finals here, Henin-Hardenne beat Nadia Petrova 6-2, 6-3 and Pierce brushed past Elena Likhovtseva 6-1, 6-1.
In the men's, Nadal was beating world number one Roger Federer in four sets while Puerta was coming from behind to Nikolay Davydenko in five sets, spending another three and a half hours on the court.
Mats Wilander, who won three French Opens including a 4hr 42min battle to subdue Guillermo Vilas in 1982, lashed out at the lack of quality in Saturday's women's final.
"I am sad for women's tennis. After the semi-finals I thought we could not go any lower," said the Swede.
"But the best thing about Mary Pierce in the final was her speech. She hit the ball for the pleasure of hitting the ball and didn't think about the means of hitting the ball to win the match.
"It is time to sound the alarm bell."
World number one Lindsay Davenport has long campaigned for equal prize money.
"People believe what they believe. You hear about women playing only three sets while men play five," said Davenport earlier this year.
"And the best women are never going to beat the best men. But it's a different game you go to watch with the women - it doesn't make it better or worse.
"Hopefully we will be able to change people's minds who are against it (equal prize money) we will try to persuade them. We still have to get women's tennis more popular and we have the players to do that."
After her capitulation here, the 30-year-old pierce refused to be drawn on the thorny subject."I think the best people to talk to are the people who are actually dealing
with that situation in the prize money area, men's side and women's side,
and the tournament's side," said the French woman.