December 21, 2016 / 12:19 PM / 8 months ago

Record A$50 million prize purse for 2017 Australian Open

Tennis balls sit on the court before a match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 23, 2008. Photo taken January 23, 2008.Petar Kujundzic/File Photo

REUTERS - The Australian Open has increased its total prize purse by 14 percent to a record A$50 million ($36.19 million), with A$3.7 million up for grabs for the winners of the singles tournaments, organisers said on Wednesday.

The prize money for the season's opening grand slam has more than tripled since 2001, and risen A$10 million since 2014.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement that organisers were focused on increasing compensation for players in the early rounds and qualifying, with first round losers set for an A$50,000 windfall, up 30 percent from last year.

Similarly, second round prize money has risen 29 percent to A$80,000, with third and fourth round losers to earn A$130,000 and $220,000 respectively. Total prize money for the quarter-finals, semi-finals, runners up and winner is up 9 percent.

The Australian Open starts on Jan. 16 in Melbourne.

($1 = 1.3816 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru

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