By Alexandra Willis
15 October 2010
The governing body of men’s tennis has acknowledged that it will consider a re-organisation of the men’s calendar in a “meaningful way” to avoid a flurry of injuries and withdrawals towards the end of the season. World No.1 Rafael Nadal, who has consistently affirmed that the tennis season is too long, suffered his first defeat before a quarter-final this year in Shanghai, and used his loss as an opportunity to once again request that the tour calendar be re-evaluated.
Using the word ‘tired’ 15 times during his post-match press conference, Nadal, who admittedly was under no obligation to play events in Bangkok and Tokyo in the last two months, said he was seeking change on behalf of the younger generation.
Nadal has suggested that top players should be allowed to stop playing after the ATP Masters 1000 events, the second-highest-ranked tournaments behind the Grand Slams, come to an end, and not worry about losing ranking points at the end of the season. “I just think allowing us to play and not play when we want is the better solution for all the players, not only for the top 10,” he said.
As a result the ATP has assured the press that it will consider the Spaniard’s comments during a meeting of the board of directors during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena this November. “We are taking a good, hard look at our calendar to see if there is a meaningful way to lengthen the offseason that would allow players more time for rest, fitness and working on their game,” announced ATP spokeswoman Kate Gordon. “The issue of season length has been around for a long time and there is no quick fix, but we are committed to giving it real consideration.”
The easiest solution would be simply to lop off three weeks from the end of the season, meaning that the men’s tour would come to an end in early November rather than at the end of the month. Any new calendar will take effect from 2012.
Two years ago the WTA undertook a similar set of changes which shortened the women’s tour, allowing female professionals a much longer off-season than their male counterparts. However, the women’s tour has continued to struggle to keep all of its top players competing up to the end of the season. At present, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Agniezska Radwanska are all on the injured list.
Nadal and Roger Federer are due to compete in ‘The Match for Africa‘ on 21 December, an exhibition match for Roger Federer’s foundation.
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