x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

More rest will keep the Nadals going longer

The ATP bosses' decision to extend off-season could be the finest thing to come out of 2010, a year in which Nadal stamp his authority.

Thanks to the ATP Tour’s decision, Rafael Nadal, the world No 1, will get more time to recover in the off-season as of 2012.
Thanks to the ATP Tour’s decision, Rafael Nadal, the world No 1, will get more time to recover in the off-season as of 2012.

When people look back at 2010 it is likely they will see it as the year in which Rafael Nadal stamped his authority on men's tennis.

The Spaniard will end the year as a very dominant world No 1, having won the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

But this may also be seen as the time when the ATP Tour bosses made one of their best decisions.

It was announced over the weekend that from the 2012 season the players will have their end of season break extended by two weeks - giving them seven weeks of recovery time from mid-November to early January.

Adam Helfant, the executive chairman of the ATP Tour, said at the weekend: "Our players do not have adequate time to rest, work on their fitness and work on their game during our off season. I have acknowledged that it is our responsibility as the governing body of the tour to see if we can find a way to address this."

Nadal and Andy Roddick, the 2003 US Open champion, have in the past been critical of the gruelling 11-month schedule.

Roddick last year complained: "It's ridiculous to think that you have a professional sport that doesn't have a legitimate off-season to rest, get healthy, and then train.

"I just feel sooner or later that common sense has to prevail."

Now it seems it has. And it does not appear as if any events are going to be lost from the calendar as a result.

There were 66 tournaments this year and officials plan to revamp the shortened season by moving the ATP Tour Finals so they start immediately after the Paris Masters in early November, rather than having a week's break.

While it is not ideal to go straight from the regular season to the finals, the end-of-year tournament is not a competition on which careers are judged. Roger Federer has won it four times, but he is more revered for his 16 grand slam titles.

The Tour Finals are a good climax to the season, but it is what happens in Melbourne, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and at Flushing Meadows that define a player's career. Injuries happen in any sport, but a number of the recent ailments that have hit top players: Nadal (knee), Andy Murray (wrist), Juan Martin del Potro (wrist) and Roddick (shoulder) are all the result of wear and tear throughout the season which could have been prevented had the players had more time to rest.

Only time will tell if the extended break will make a difference, but if it can help keep the top players healthier, then it could prove to be the best thing to come out of 2010.

 

gcaygill@thenational.ae