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Tennis News: Massive AO prizemoney increase revealed, Demon 'sleeping on the pullout' after cheeky girlfriend sledge

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29th December, 2023
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Australian Open tennis officials have announced an increase in prize money by $10 million for the upcoming tournament which begins on January 14 at Melbourne Park.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement on Friday that the Grand Slam tournament will now offer $86.5m in total prize money.

Watch every Australian Open match ad-free, live & on demand with centre court in 4K Ultra-HD on the home of Grand Slam tennis, Stan Sport.

“We’ve upped prize money for every round at the Australian Open with the major increases in qualifying and the early rounds of singles and doubles,” Tiley said.

At Melbourne, first-round qualifiers will receive a 20% increase to $31,250. Men’s and women’s singles champions will receive $3.15 million Australian dollars each.

The women’s final, where Aryna Sabalenka is the defending champion, is set for January. 27. The men’s final, where Novak Djokovic is the defending champion, is scheduled for January 28.

Aryna Sabalenka celebrate during the Australian Open women's final.

Aryna Sabalenka celebrates during the 2023 Australian Open women’s final. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Millman’s tease of Demon ahead of couples clash

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Retiring cult hero John Millman is unlikely to play during the upcoming United Cup, and it seems he’s set his sights on getting good friend Alex de Minaur into a spot of bother.

Australia’s Cup campaign begins on Friday night with a match-up against Great Britain at Perth’s RAC Arena.

Adding intrigue to the tie is the fact that de Minaur’s girlfriend – world No.56 Katie Boulter – will play for Great Britain.

De Minaur played down any prospect of featuring in the mixed doubles against his girlfriend when asked about it on Wednesday, with Matt Ebden and Storm Hunter set to team up for Australia.

But on the eve of the tournament, de Minaur left the door ajar for that dream face-off against Boulter to happen.

“Well, you never know until you sign on the dotted line, come that mixed (doubles),” a cryptic de Minaur said on Thursday. 

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Katie Boulter of Great Britain practices ahead of the 2024 United Cup at RAC Arena on December 26, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Katie Boulter of Great Britain practices ahead of the 2024 United Cup at RAC Arena on December 26, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

“I could be an option (for the doubles). I have played mixed in the past with Katie, so I know all her weaknesses!

“I’ve watched enough of her matches to know the spots to be attacking. If we step out on court, it’s just all business.”

It was at this point that Millman stepped in to put the heat on his friend.

“My missus doesn’t have any weaknesses. That’s pretty brave of you to say that (about Katie),” Millman said.

“You’re in trouble. (You) might be sleeping on the pullout in my room tonight.”

John Millman celebrates during his victory over Roger Federer at the 2018 US Open.

John Millman (Photo: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

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Jokes aside, Millman is thrilled to be in the same team as de Minaur for what will be the 34-year-old’s final summer of tennis before he retires.

“Throughout my career I’ve seen him grow from being an Orange Boy to now being Australia’s No.1 tennis player, really knocking on the door to that top 10,” Millman said. 

“He’s been one of my closest mates. To do this dance one last time with him is going to be a lot of fun. 

“I couldn’t think of a better bunch of people to go out and represent the green and gold. It will be a lot of fun.”

For Ajla Tomljanovic, it’s a case of making up for lost time after her 2023 was largely wiped out because of a knee injury.

“It just makes me more excited to be back,” she said. 

“I think the month of January is always the month I want to do my best. That’s never changed. 

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“Having a bit of time off just makes me more motivated.”

Tomljanovic holds a 1-0 advantage over Boulter after beating her 6-3 6-4 on grass in 2022.

“She’s coming off of her best year. It’s going to be a really tough match,” Tomljanovic said.

“She’s got a big game. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and doing my best.”

Spain will take on Brazil during Friday’s day session in Perth, with the action in Sydney to start from Saturday.

Djokovic lands for United Cup

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has arrived in Perth to represent Serbia in the United Cup and set tongues wagging with a statement that he hopes it’s not his last time Down Under.

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He said he feels welcomed by the Australian audience in Perth.

“It’s been a while since I played here. I remember every time I played in Perth was great. People here in Australia love tennis, sports in general, so I expect nothing less now. I’m sure everyone will enjoy it,” he said.

“It’s always an honor to represent Serbia. I hope that the stands will be full and that many people will come to watch our matches. It will be a good introduction to Melbourne.”

Djokovic will be aiming to stretch his Grand Slam record to 25 in Melbourne, but the man who was absent in 2022 due to anti-vaccine restrictions added an odd suggestion about his future.

“I hope this is not the last time I play in Australia. I always look forward to coming here,” he said.

“I feel that years ago I played my best tennis here and I had strong support.”

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Muchova and out

World No. 8 Karolina Muchova has withdrawn from the Australian Open due to an injury flare-up.

Muchova, who reached the French Open last year, injured her right wrist in the semifinals of the US Open in September and sub subsequently withdrew from a maiden WTA Finals appearance due to the same injury issues.

She announced her withdrawal on Instagram.

“Hi fans & friends. This isn’t my favourite thing to share especially at the start of a new season, but unfortunately the pain in a wrist came back in the middle of my tennis preparation,” Muchova wrote.
“I therefore have to postpone the start of the season and fully heal my wrist first. It’s frustrating but I have to keep positive, recover and get ready for the rest of the year. See you in 2025 @australianopen.”

(With agencies)

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