The Australian Open is largely about the thrill of competition for those taking part in it, but the payday isn't too bad either. Tennis is a lucrative sport, particularly for the top players, and there is plenty of money to be made across every contested draw in Melbourne.
Making it to a singles final ensures millionaire status, but it might come as a surprise to some how big the payouts are for simply winning a match or two. The Australian Open is one of the premier tennis tournaments in the world, and players are rewarded handsomely for their participation.
Here is a full overview of the prize money that will doled out Down Under, as well as a look at some of the top contenders who figure to pad their respective bank accounts.
|2014 Australian Open Prize Money Breakdown|
|Men's & Women's Singles||Winners||Runners-up||Semifinalists||Quarterfinalists||Round of 16||Round of 32||Round of 64||First Round|
|Payouts||$2.65 million||$1.325 million||$540,000||$275,000||$135,000||$75,000||$50,000||$30,000|
|Men's & Women's Singles Qualifying||Third Round||Second Round||First Round|
|Men's & Women's Doubles||Winners||Runners-up||Semifinalists||Quarterfinalists||Round of 16||Round of 32||First Round|
|Payouts (per pair)||$520,000||$260,000||$130,000||$65,000||$36,000||$21,000||$13,500|
|Mixed Doubles||Winners||Runners-up||Semisfinalists||Quarterfinalists||Round of 16||First Round|
|Payouts (per pair)||$135,500||$67,750||$33,900||$15,500||$7,800||$3,800|
With three consecutive Australian Open titles and four overall, it can be argued that Novak Djokovic is starting to dominate in Melbourne like Rafael Nadal has at the French Open for so many years. Djoker will need to win a few more in order to officially reach that category, but there is no reason why he can't. His game is perfectly tailored to Melbourne's hard courts, and he obviously has an incredible amount of confidence that he can win the tournament.
Djokovic has had plenty of battles with the likes of Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and others, but he has probably been the most consistently great player since 2011. He naturally has to share the spotlight since there are so many elite players right now, but he makes headlines more often than not.
Djokovic seemingly has an insatiable hunger for winning, which is something that tennis legend Boris Becker sees in him, according to the Australian Open's official Twitter account:
That hunger is always present in Melbourne, and Djokovic has an easy draw to supplement that. He is removed from the likes of Nadal, Murray and Federer, which means that his biggest challenges en route to the final will come from the likes of Stanislas Wawrinka and David Ferrer. With that in mind, Djoker should cruise to the final round.
A case can be made for a number of different men's players to potentially win the Australian Open, but the focus rests on just one player in the women's draw. At 32 years of age, Serena Williams is playing the best tennis of her life, and she often looks unbeatable. She won two Grand Slams last year, and it's possible that she could take all four in 2014.
According to Greg Garber of ESPN.com, tennis legend Chris Evert believes that is simply a question of Serena's determination and drive:
But the thing I wonder is if she can match the tennis and the enthusiasm that she had last year. It took a lot out of her. It was almost like playing three years. Every week, the focus was on her and the emotions of being excited about her place in history.
It's not about (Victoria) Azarenka and (Maria) Sharapova. Can Serena do it, day in and day out? It's happening to Roger Federer. It chips away, and suddenly you're not hungry. There's a point where you don't jump out of bed anymore to play a match.
It's difficult to say when that time will come for Serena, but it doesn't appear to be happening yet. She breezed to a title in Brisbane while beating her closest competition, and she seems primed to win her first Aussie Open title since 2010. As long as Williams keeps up the intensity and remains healthy, there simply isn't anyone who can beat her.
After winning a pair of Grand Slams in 2013, it can be argued that Rafael Nadal is the guy to beat on the men's side. Djokovic has something to say about that, with three straight Australian Open titles in his back pocket, but there is no question that Nadal will be a tough out.
Unfortunately for Nadal, his draw is much tougher than Djokovic's. The challenges start from the very first round for Rafa, who will face popular Aussie Bernard Tomic, according to ESPN's Chris Fowler:
Tomic is an immense talent, but Nadal should be able to get past him even without the support of the fans.
Things will get even tougher for him moving forward, though. Rafa is likely to face Juan Martin del Potro in the quarters, followed by a date with Murray, Federer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semis. If he is able to survive all of that, he will almost certainly be tasked with preventing Djokovic from winning his fourth Aussie Open title in as many years.
It's unquestionably a difficult road, but if there is anyone who can navigate it, it's Nadal. He is quicker and more athletic than any other player, and it translates to every surface. He hasn't had as much success at the Australian Open as he has in other Grand Slams, with just one title, but he is more than capable of winning on hard courts. With that in mind, Nadal is definitely worth watching in Melbourne.
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