Roger Federer and Pete Sampras make a lot of money in the biggest new tennis market: Asia.
Roger Federerappeared to be taking it easy on Pete Sampras in the first of their three exhibition matches in Seoul, Korea, on Tuesday. Roger isn’t the biggest server on tour and he took something off his serve. He still managed to beat Pete rather easily by the score of 6-4, 6-3, but the question I have is: why is he doing this?
Roger is the ten million dollar man – the first player to earn $10 million dollars in one season on the ATP tour. That means he could easily afford that gorgeous vehicle you see pictured above I happened to see on the street in Los Angeles today. It’s a McLaren Mercedes Benz and it runs about half a million bucks.
He doesn’t need it because he won a Mercedes for taking the title at the year end championships but he does need an offseason. He should be on his way to Australia for the Kooyong tournament in about six weeks. After three exhibitions this week in Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, and Macao, that’ll be five weeks. Assuming Roger needs a few weeks to prepare for the new season, that gives him a three week vacation.
Roger is the ten million dollar man because he got $1.5 million from the ATP Masters Series Bonus Pool for winning the most Masters Series points and playing both Madrid and Paris. He hadn’t played Paris since 2003 so you’d think he’d want a month off.
I suppose I should be generous and thank him for raising the profile of tennis in Asia but I’m guessing it’s more about the money. I’d love to know how much Roger and Pete will take home for their exofest. If anyone knows, please leave a comment.
And anyway I’m jealous. The world of tennis – and basketball – used to run through the U.S. at one time and now the money is drawing both sports to Asia. Well over a million people in China watched the first matchup between Chinese NBA stars Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian earlier this month. You can even buy 24 karat gold coins commemorating the event. Gold coins are usually reserved for championship collectibles.
Shanghai gets the new Masters Series event in 2009 which is a true money grab because the 2009 calendar was supposed to have one less Masters Series event. The idea was to take it easy on the players by reducing the number of required tournaments but just the opposite will happen. There are still nine Masters level events, one of the clay court events has been eliminated and clay is easier on the players’ bodies, and now they have to travel to Asia instead of getting on a train from Monte Carlo to Hamburg.
My neighbors are taking off for Singapore tomorrow morning on a “frequent flyer points run” so they’ll have enough points to fly first class next year. I might have to do the same thing if I want to sit in the stands at top flight tennis tournaments in the near future.