Paris – Injured Novak Djokovic stands to lose $1.6 million in ATP bonus pool money if he fails to play at this week's Paris Masters.
The top seed has until his Wednesday opening match against Croatian Ivan Dodig, a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 first-round winner over Fabio Fognini, to decide if fitnes or finances will prevail.
But fellow multi-millionaire and fourth-ranked rival Roger Federer hinted on Tuesday that the potential massive loss of income might actually mean little in the grand scheme to the most successful player of the season.
“It's a good problem to have, right, he's already made 10 million bucks (on court) this year,” said Federer, whose own earnings in what for him is a modest season total $3.8 million and counting from prize money.
“Look, it's up to him, really.
“Is money everything? Clearly not. Clearly helps, but I think he's made so much this year it shouldn't matter.”
Djokovic, winner of ten titles in 2011, is facing a shoulder injury dilemma after losing only his fourth match of 2011 in last weekend's Basel semi-finals to Kei Nishikori,
As the world number one, the Serb is entitled to $2 million from year-end bonus pool monies. But he has already lost $400,000 of that amount by failing to play Shanghai - back injury - one of eight obligatory Masters 1000 events for top players.
And, under the rules, should he miss Paris - his second Masters absence - his $1.6 million would shrink to nil.
“It's his decision if he wants to put the racquet on the line or not,” said Federer, who won Basel and is ultra-fit after autumn injury time off.
“It's unfortunate that he would miss out on the bonus pool.
“(On the) money: Would he deserve it? Maybe, yes, because he's fulfilled a lot of commitments this year and it's been wonderful for the tour.
“But unfortunately, we do have these rules in place, and they need to be followed for any player, also for world number one.
“I don't know how that all works out, but he's clearly been great for the game, especially this year with all his records. I hope it's all gonna work out for all parties.”
Federer was getting in a Tuesday training session prior to his Wednesday start against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
The event is one of the few where the Swiss 16-time grand slam winner does not own a title, standing 10-8 at the venue with his last match a semi-final loss to Gael Monfils a year ago.
“No doubt I'd love to win here in indoors, I”ve attended this tournament many times by now, and it's true I have never made it to the finals,” said Federer.
“I don't want to say it's a surprise, I play very good indoors. Indoors was always the surface where I thought I played best.
“Not to make the finals here with all the success is almost a bit disappointing, to be quite honest.”
On court, Tomas Berdych took another step towards securing a place in the eight-man ATP season finale as the Czech fifth seed reached the third round with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Fernando Verdasco.
The 2010 Wimbledon finalist still needs to gain a place in the quarter-finals at Bercy to claim the sixth place at the World Tour Finals which start November 20 in London.
Berdych will get the chance Thursday against either American Alex Bogomolov or Serb Janko Tipsarevic.
The Czech had been declared part of the London field last weekend, but the ATP had to roll that announcement back after re-checking their calculations.
Berdych beat Spain's Verdasco for the ninth time in 13 meetings and has now won all seven of their hardcourt matches, including a 6-1, 6-0 rout last month in Beijing.
Berdych broke Verdasco five times in one and three-quarter hours to advance after a first-round bye.
In the first round, surprise Basel finalist Kei Nishikori was brought back to earth 6-4, 6-3 by qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky. – Sapa-AFP