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iol new spic Andy Roddick

REUTERS

Andy Roddick of the US hits a return to compatriot Rhyne Williams during their men's singles match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York.

New York - Andy Roddick says he is ready to follow the pack when it comes to financial issues that have players pondering a boycott of next January's Australian Open, but he isn't betting on it actually happening.

The American 20th seed advanced to the second round of the US Open on Tuesday with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over compatriot Rhyne Williams, then said he will back whatever the players council leadership decides.

Roddick has been quick to point out the discrepancies in payouts of 13 percent of revenues from Grand Slam events compared to US team sports like the NBA, where players last year were forced to settle for a 50-50 revenue split.

“I'm on board with whatever the contemporaries come up with,” Roddick said. “At this point it's the same old song.”

“The ATP, the ITF (International Tennis Federation), powers that be, are betting against us being able to unify and they have been getting away with that gamble for 25 years and we haven't proved them wrong yet.

“U2 doesn't ask permission to go on tour. We ask permission do a lot of things.”

Players await a proposal from Grand Slam leaders but hope for more money to boost prize money for early losers, helping those struggling the most to pay travel and expenses.

One difficulty Roddick acknowledges in holding together a coalition is the game's global nature.

“You're dealing with a bunch of different languages, different agendas, guys who play singles, guys who play doubles, guys who play clay, guys who play hard,” Roddick said.

“I guess my view is more of a scope what's best for the game, not exactly what's the cut in Kitzbuhel and how do we fix that? You are dealing with a lot of different issues inside of it.”

One issue Roddick must deal with is the ATP San Jose event's move to Rio de Janeiro after next year.

“You don't like losing tournaments. I don't like that trend that's been being set of taking tournaments from here internationally,” he said.

“As with anything, a lot of times you will follow the story that leads to the money trail. It's not any different for tournaments. Until we can step up in the marketplace, it's free trade also.

“I'm more concerned with we need events like that for the generations coming up here.”

Roddick is also concerned about younger generations when it comes to Lance Armstrong, the iconic cyclist who was recently stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after choosing not to fight charges he was part of a major doping scheme.

Armstrong's Livestrong Foundation has raised money to combat cancer and Roddick hopes that work will continue despite Armstrong's name being stained by doping.

“It's tough to talk about it as a whole with what he's done as far as positive versus what he's accused of doing from a negative side. You have to pick your side of the argument and then have an opinion,” Roddick said.

“Regardless of what may or may not have happened he has done a lot of good. Hopefully that won't change, because he's a pretty big symbol for a lot of people. It's almost bigger than his sport what he's been able to accomplish with his foundation. So you hope that one doesn't rely on the other.”

Roddick's lone Grand Slam title from the 2003 US Open is the most recent Grand Slam title by a US man.

Since then Roddick, who turns 30 on Thursday, has seen the game dominated by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

“The game has changed a lot,” he said. “The game has gotten significantly better since then.

“I saw the way the game was going. You have to get stronger and quicker. I don't think there was much room for a plodder who could hit the ball pretty hard. I feel like that's added to longevity a little bit.”

Sapa-AFP


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