Alexander Zverev and Ash Barty title wins in Cincinnati highlight awkward tennis pay gap

Andy Murray and Ash Barty pay tribute to each other

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Ashleigh Barty continued her stunning 2021 form to claim the Cincinnati Masters title in style with a straight sets victory over Jil Teichmann. However, her convincing victory on the eve of the US Open has once again highlighted the huge disparity in pay for female players compared to men in the sport.

The Australian’s winning purse is worth around £187k, much less than half of the £482k Alexander Zverev scooped for beating Andrey Rublev to the men’s title.

And pay for female athletes seems to be going in the wrong direction – while the total men’s prize money on offer in Cincinnati went up by almost 15% compared to 2020, the women’s pot decreased by 6%, down to £1.55m compared to the £3.57m set aside for male competitors.

The situation was described as “awkward” by journalist Ben Rothenberg, at a time when the popularity of women’s tennis continues to grow but the amount of money athletes can earn does not.

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Current world number one Barty has earned £2.76m so far this year from prize money, including one Grand Slam victory at Wimbledon and another appearance in the last eight at the Australian Open.

She is the favourite to claim victory at the US Open which begins next week, fancied because of her red-hot form in 2021 despite her previously difficulties at Flushing Meadows – she’s yet to get past the last 16 in five previous attempts.

More than 3,000 points ahead of nearest rival Aryna Sabalenka in the rankings, Barty looks set to finish the year as number one in the WTA rankings for the first time.

Surprise finalist Teichmann went toe-to-toe with the Australian for the first six games of the title decider in Cincinnati, but Barty then turned on the style to win nine of the next 10 and dispatch the Swiss 6-3, 6-1.

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The 25-year-old said after her victory: “I think being able to come through and play a really clean week and walk away with the title is probably not what I really expected of myself, but (it’s) certainly nice.”

She adds that trophy to others she has won in Melbourne, Miami, Stuttgart and London this year, and will hope to add the US Open title to the career Grand Slam victories she has already claimed from the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon earlier this summer.

As well as the Arthur Ashe stadium – the largest in professional tennis – the US Open also boasts a much fairer prize money structure.

The winners of both the men’s and women’s titles are both likely to scoop £2.2m each, just like they did in the behind-closed-doors tournament in 2020.

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