MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australian Open organizers have increased prize money to a record $31.1 million for 2013 in response to player concerns about compensation at Grand Slam tournaments, making it the richest in tennis history.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said the $4.15 million increase announced Tuesday was the largest from one year to the next for the tournament and should attract the strongest available players.
Tiley also said he'd been in contact with Rafael Nadal, who indicated he was still targeting the Australian Open for his return to Grand Slam tennis from a left knee injury that has sidelined him since Wimbledon.
"Expect Rafa to be one of many great stories in January, including a formidable title defense from our brilliant reigning men's champion, Novak Djokovic, and some major challenges from the great Roger Federer, U.S. Open 2012 champion Andy Murray ..." Tiley said in a statement.
Nadal also plans to play in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi from Dec. 27-29, according to a statement released by organizers of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
Nadal's spokesman, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday that the player is undergoing treatment for his injury "and hopefully he will be ready for" Abu Dhabi and the Australian Open.
Nadal, an 11-time Grand Slam winner, partially tore the patella tendon in his left knee and hasn't played since losing in the second round of Wimbledon in June. Last week, Nadal said there was no timetable for his return, but that he was hopeful of playing in Australia.
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