x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Roger Federer plea for patience may hinder change in schedule

It will also be interesting to see a possible on-court battle with Rafael Nadal who has criticised his stance on the issue.

Rafael Nadal, left, is unhappy that Roger Federer has not raised his voice against the schedule.
Rafael Nadal, left, is unhappy that Roger Federer has not raised his voice against the schedule.

A bit of the warm and fuzzy bonhomie has rubbed off the Roger-Rafa relationship. The Spaniard is disappointed that his old rival is not equally as militant about the ATP schedule, and has spoken up about it.

"For him it's good to say nothing," Nadal said in a Spanish interview last week. "Everything positive. 'It's all well and good for me, I look like a gentleman,' and the rest can burn themselves."

Ahead of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship last month, Federer told The National that "the season has always been long and gruelling" and recommended that players wait out the year to see if byes for elite players in ATP 250 events and a shorter season help resolve the issues.

He also talked about "doing what is right … for the tournaments" and added that "the biggest challenge for the top players is managing our own schedules".

Nadal has said players may have to take "strong action" if no "evolution" on the calendar is forthcoming. Andy Murray also has been critical, and the schedule was discussed at a players' meeting in Melbourne on Saturday.

Their complaints are less likely to be taken seriously, however, if the greatest player in history, who also is the eminence grise of the game, urges patience.

The new tension could make for an interesting semi-final at the Australian Open, should Federer and Nadal meet, but each player is fighting injury.

Firebrand Rafa might say "too much tennis". Gentleman Roger would cite "bad luck".