x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Critical time as stars want a level playing field

Even as we enter the slack time on the tennis calendar, prominent players continue to issue dark warnings about how punishing the schedule has become.

It is the Story That Won't Die. Even as we enter the slack time on the tennis calendar, prominent players on the ATP Tour continue to issue dark warnings about how punishing the schedule has become.

Rafael Nadal last month hinted at a potential need for players to make some sort of collective statement about the crowded schedule.

After winning the US Open, Novak Djokovic struggled through half a match in the Davis Cup semi-finals before retiring with a back injury he said was the result of a gruelling 2011.

The latest to weigh in is Andy Roddick, the former world No 1. He was one of the players unhappy with a compressed schedule at the US Open, brought about by several days of rain, and on Sunday he said that players may need to form a union to force promoters to deal with them as equals.

Only a few days before, Roger Federer, the Iron Man of his generation of players, conceded that even he has been worn down by so many matches played with the sort of speed and power unknown even a few years ago.

Federer pulled out of next month's Shanghai Open citing "nagging injuries". The withdrawal means that the 30-year-old Swiss will be able to rest and recuperate for six full weeks, until the Swiss Open at Basel on October 31.

He apologised to Shanghai fans on his website, adding that he needed time to "rest and recuperate after a long summer".

Top players, it is clear, are reaching a breaking point.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae


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