It has been criticized and snubbed by leading players, but organizers of the Grand Slam Cup, the richest tennis tournament in history, are already considering expanding the event to include women.
The Grand Slam Cup, which starts Tuesday in Munich’s Olympic Hall, is offering a $6-million purse, with $2 million for the winner in the 16-man field. First-round losers will collect $100,000, more than many tournaments pay to the winner.
The purse has been described by Boris Becker as “perverse.” Becker, John McEnroe and Mats Wilander are skipping the inaugural event although they were eligible.
Andre Agassi is also absent. The American, ranked fourth in the world, first signed to play, but later announced he would pull out. Facing a fine and a suspension, Agassi reversed his decision again and said he would play.
But Agassi suffered a rib injury during the Davis Cup final between the United States and Australia 10 days ago and pulled out again.
This time he has a legitimate excuse but breaking the contract the first time could still cost the flamboyant 20-year-old a hefty fine.
Despite the criticism and controversy, the Grand Slam Cup has attracted eight top 10 players. From the top 10, only Agassi and Becker, No. 2 in the world, are missing. The field is led by top-ranked Stefan Edberg and No. 3 Ivan Lendl.
Also playing are U.S. Open champ Pete Sampras; French Open winner Andres Gomez of Ecuador; Michael Chang, Brad Gilbert, Aaron Krickstein, David Wheaton and Kevin Curren; Goran Ivanisevic of Yugoslavia; Jonas Svensson and Christian Bergstroem of Sweden; Thomas Muster of Austria; Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte of France, and Andrei Cherkasov of the Soviet Union.
Asked if organizers planned to expand the event to include women, tournament director Bill Dennis said: “Clearly, yes. This has already been intensively discussed between the ITF, the women’s association WITA and us.”
The Grand Slam Cup is being organized by the International Tennis Federation in conjunction with the directors of the four Grand Slam events.
The Assn. of Tennis Professionals has been opposed to the Grand Slam Cup, fearing that it was interfering with its own season-ending showcase tournament.