Scheduling of Davis Cup has put strain the top players in men's tennis and Rafael Nadal hints something has to give.
Strain and pain has players like Djokovic and Nadal near breaking point
The ATP did not stage a tournament last week, but Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal still dominated the tennis headlines.
Both were in action in the Davis Cup semi-finals, and Nadal resumed his complaints about the length of the season, as well as the timing of these ties, while Djokovic seemed to give those complaints weight when he collapsed with a back injury in Belgrade.
The immediate result is that the tennis world will not be treated to a Serbia-Spain Davis Cup final in which Djokovic and Nadal could have carried their individual 2011 rivalry into the game's only significant team competition.
In Cordoba, Nadal reiterated his concerns over a long and crowded schedule, and suggested the players might have to take "strong action" to shorten the season.
He was playing in the Davis Cup on Friday, only four days after the US Open final on the other side of the Atlantic, and he suggested that "those in charge aren't aware" of the strain placed on the elite players.
Nadal's concerns might have carried even more weight had he not been one of 17 players who, in 2006, suggested that the Davis Cup semi-finals be moved up to the week after the US Open, rather than two weeks after.
Francesco Ricci Bitti, the president of the International Tennis Federation, said the semi-finals were staged last weekend in response to the 2006 requests.
"Nadal says we don't listen to the players but the date of the Davis Cup was changed against the wishes of the ITF and its president," Ricci Bitti said, according to the Associated Press. "We still feel the dates, especially those in September, are not right."
Nadal and Spain got through the weekend, ousting France, but Serbia were defeated by Argentina when Djokovic was unable to continue his singles match against Juan Martin del Potro because of back pain, a withdrawal that clinched victory for Argentina.
"I feel disappointed to end this way," said Djokovic, who received medical attention during the match. "My condition was 60 per cent of what I had expected."
Djokovic perhaps can be comforted by reflecting on the three majors he won this year, as well as the record one-season winnings of US$10.6 million (Dh38.9m).
Nadal arranged one more high-pressure weekend for himself with Spain's victory. On December 2 until 4, he and his Spanish teammates will play host to Argentina in the Davis Cup final.
Djokovic, meanwhile, may not play again before the BNP Paribas Masters in November, if then. When Nadal is slugging out long points on clay against Del Potro and David Nalbandian, presumably his Serbian rival will be resting up from his 2011 exertions.