Rafael Nadal of Spain and Daniil Medvedev of Russia will play for the 2019 U.S. Open title on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
Nadal, 33, will play in his 27th Grand Slam final and is looking to claim a fourth U.S. Open, while Medvedev, 23, is competing in his first ever major final.
Sunday's winner will also collect a $3.85 million check. The runner-up will earn about half that amount: $1.9 million.
The total payout for the tournament has skyrocketed over the last several decades. In 1973, when the men and women competitors earned equal pay for the first time, both champions received checks for $25,000. The winners earned six figures for the first time in 1983 ($120,000) and seven figures for the first time in 2003 ($1,000,000).
Even with the big increases in prize money, though, "it can be difficult for players to make much of a profit off competing," No. 14 ranked John Isner writes on Forbes.
"The expenses can really add up, particularly at tournaments like Wimbledon and the French Open," adds Isner, who not only pays for his own flights, meals and lodging, but also covers his coaches' and trainers' travel costs. "In those cases, if I don't win a match, I'm actually in danger of losing money for competing."
Isner, like other top ranked players, is in the fortunate situation where he doesn't have to rely on just prize money to cover his expenses: He has a handful of sponsorship deals, which are "the closest thing to a guaranteed annual salary that a player has," he says.
Finding sponsors ins't always easy, though, especially if you're not a top-ranked player. "You do well as a pro tennis player when you're ranked in the top 20. But that can be short-lived," Isner explains. "Brands are paying you to get their logos on televised show courts, so if your matches aren't being featured on broadcasts because your play has fallen off ... or because you're injured and not playing at all — they're going to stop calling."
Players without sponsors have to win to pay the bills. "And winning is hard," Isner notes, "which means it's really hard to bring in prize money consistently."
The bigger the tournament, the bigger the check: At smaller scale pro circuit events, where the total pot ranges from $15,000 to $100,000, first-round losers may take home just a few hundred dollars.
At the U.S. Open, on the other hand, players who make the main singles draw are guaranteed $58,000 — and if they win one round, they make six-figures.
Here's the full breakdown of how much the men's and women's singles competitors earned at this year's Open. The amounts listed are what players who lost in the corresponding round earned.
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