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Sport

Reduced prize money will continue in 2021, says Lopez

PARIS (Reuters) - Tennis tournaments in 2020 have seen reduced prize money since the circuit resumed after the COVID-19 pandemic break and the situation is not expected to change at least until early next year, Spaniard Feliciano Lopez said on Monday.

The 39-year-old is ranked 64th in the world and doubles up as tournament director of the ATP Masters in Madrid, which was cancelled this year due to concerns over the virus in Spain.

The Paris Masters, which will be played without spectators this week, has also seen a significant reduction in prize money, though the cuts have been made towards the later rounds in the final ATP 1000 event of the year.

“I want to be clear. I think this is the best we can have right now,” Lopez told reporters on Sunday after beating Serbian Filip Krajinovic 7-6(11) 6-1 in the opening round in Paris to set up a meeting with countryman Rafa Nadal.

“We have to be aware of the situation that the world is living (in) and how everyone is facing these challenging times around the world,” he added.

“Yeah, the prize money had a significant reduction, of course, but it will be the same I think for the beginning of 2021, because I don’t see the virus going away. So for now I don’t see any hope on prize money.”

Lopez feels tennis players are lucky to be earning a livelihood amid the pandemic and should appreciate the efforts of organisers staging tournaments amid health concerns and difficult economic conditions.

The Spaniard said his job as tournament director was “very challenging” but it also helped him see things from the perspective of an organiser.

Although he turns 40 next year, retirement has not crossed the mind of Lopez, who reached a career high ranking of 12th in 2015.

“I’m ready to play a full schedule again (in 2021). I feel great on the court,” he said. “I think I can still compete... I think I’m still able to perform and to enjoy and to play against the best players in the world.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Ken Ferris

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