x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Andy Murray warns that tennis players could strike

The world No 4 hopes the governing body of men's tennis listens to players concerns that they are not getting enough rest by playing too many events.

Andy Murray hopes the ATP and ITF take heed from players' complaints and although he does not want it, players could be forced to strike if no action is taken.
Andy Murray hopes the ATP and ITF take heed from players' complaints and although he does not want it, players could be forced to strike if no action is taken.

Andy Murray has warned the biggest names in tennis could go on strike to push through changes to the sport's busy calendar.

Murray will take part in talks at the Shanghai Masters next month, when the players will discuss what can be done to reduce their workload.

Concerns were raised over the high number of retirements at the recent US Open, and the crammed schedule in New York.

There are fears that players are being expected to play too many events, leaving them with little chance of any rest.

Murray, the world No 4, who went straight from losing in the US Open semi-finals to playing for Great Britain in last weekend's Davis Cup match against Hungary, believes there are players who would have no problem with downing their rackets.

Rafael Nadal, the Spanish world No 2 has already stressed his concerns about the workload of players and Novak Djokovic, the world No 1, broke down injured in his Davis Cup semi-final for Serbia.

He appears ready to join them if the tennis authorities refuse to accept the players' demands, fearing it could be years before anything changes unless stars take a hardline stance.

Last night. the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), which runs the men's tour, said it was "committed to working with the players" on such issues.

Players would be keen to avoid holding a strike, but Murray told BBC Sport: "It's a possibility.

"I know from speaking to some players they're not afraid of doing that. Let's hope it doesn't come to that but I'm sure the players will consider it."

Asked whether the subject of a strike or boycott will be mentioned during the meeting in China, he said: "Yes I think so. If we come up with a list of things we want changed — and everyone is in agreement but they don't happen — then we need to have some say in what goes on in our sport. At the moment we don't.

"We'll sit down, talk about it with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and International Tennis Federation (ITF), see if they will come to a compromise and, if not, we'll go from there.

"We just want things to change, really small things. Two or three weeks during the year, a few less tournaments each year, which I don't think is unreasonable."

Murray said that it takes a long time to put changes in place and since joining the ATP Tour, he and his fellow professionals have asked for a shorter calendar.

"To get another change implemented may take five or six years at the rate things are going and by then all of us will be done [retired]," he said. "We want it to happen sooner rather than later.

"I've spoken this week to a couple of guys who work at the ITF and I think they understand players now are quite serious about doing something."

Murray says that players do have extra stress on their bodies and do not get much of a break. Not having a say in the structure of their sport, the Scot believes it is time for players to have a say in their sport.

The ATP responded to the remarks from Murray by stressing they would continue to listen to the players' suggestions, which also stating improvements to the calendar have already been made.

"The players should and do have a major say in how the game is run, which is one of the key reasons the ATP Tour was formed as an equal partnership between players and tournaments," the ATP said in a statement.

"As you know, the calendar has long been a topic of conversation and just last year we announced that we would be lengthening our off-season by two weeks beginning in 2012, meaning players will have seven weeks in between ATP World Tour seasons.

"The health and well-being of the players is paramount, and the ATP has implemented a number of changes to address player health concerns in recent years - including reducing draw sizes of ATP World Tour Masters 1,000 events, giving byes to the top eight seeds, and eliminating five-set finals.

"We remain committed to working with the players and other governing bodies to continue to address these issues."