ROME-Do not count the WTA among those who were either surprised or upset that Simona Halep earned 10 euros (about $12) less than Novak Djokovic did for winning the Italian Open.

On Tuesday, a day after the two finals in Rome as debate raged on social media over the discrepancy, a spokeswoman for the women’s professional tour shrugged off the controversy and chalked it up to a matter of math.

“This comes down to a simple rounding situation, that’s all,” WTA spokeswoman Amy Binder wrote in an email to Associated Press.

A year ago, the difference between champion checks was much greater: The Italian Open is a top-tier Masters 1000 event for men (2019 champion Rafael Nadal earned about $1.1 million), and a second-tier Premier Five event for women (2019 champion Karolina Pliskova took home about $615,000).

This time, Halep and Djokovic each collected a winner’s check of about $240,000, but Djokovic got slightly more than she did.

With spectators, a significant source of revenue, barred completely for most of the tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic-1,000 fans were allowed in for the semifinals and finals-the ATP and WTA reduced prize money in Rome.

The ATP cut prize money for the men by 40 percent; the WTA reduced the pot for the women by 32 percent. The tours tell tournaments how much to hand out to players.

“Look, all we do is organize the tournament,” tournament director Sergio Palmieri said in a telephone interview. “The ATP decides how much to award their players and the WTA decides how much to award their players. And we pay. The only thing we do is pay.”

The total financial commitment for the men was nearly 4 million euros ($4.5 million) this year in Rome, and nearly 1.7 million euros (almost $2 million) for the women.

Palmieri noted that the men’s and women’s tournaments divide their prize money differently from round to round.

The pay difference comes during a week that marks the 50th anniversary of Billie Jean King and the other members of the Original 9 signing $1 contracts to launch the women’s pro tennis circuit.

King has often said that she was moved to form the women’s circuit after earning $600 for her 1970 Italian Open title-while Ilie Nastase took home $3,500 for winning the men’s tournament the same year.

Andreescu out

Last year’s US Open champion Bianca Andreescu said Tuesday she will sit out the remainder of the season to focus on her “health and training” after a year beset by injury.

Andreescu, who beat Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows 12 months ago to become Canada’s first Grand Slam singles champion, has not played a match since hurting her knee last October at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

Last week the world No 7 withdrew from the French Open, rescheduled to start on Sunday from May due to the coronavirus pandemic.

She had already been forced to skip the defense of her US Open crown after being unable to properly prepare, in part because of the global health crisis.

“I have come to the difficult decision to skip the clay court swing this year and will be taking the remainder of the season off to focus on my health and training,” Andreescu wrote on Twitter.

“As hard as it was to come to this conclusion, I have so much to look forward to in 2021, including the Olympics; I want to use this time to focus on my game so I can come back stronger and better than ever.”

Andreescu, 20, joins defending champion Ashleigh Barty and newly crowned US Open winner Naomi Osaka on the absentee list for the Sept 7-Oct 11 Grand Slam in Paris.

Agencies

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