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October 13, 2009

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Nadal, Roddick slam calendar

RAFAEL Nadal and Andy Roddick complained yesterday that the ATP season is too long and that tennis players need a proper offseason.
Both players, who are here for the Shanghai Masters, reiterated criticism of the sport's punishing schedule.
"It's impossible to play 1st of January and finish 5th of December," said the 23-year-old Nadal, who did not defend his title at Wimbledon because of a knee injury.
"It's impossible to be here playing like what I did the last five years, playing a lot of matches and being all the time 100 percent without problems."
Roddick said the ATP must give players more time to rest during the season or risk shortening the careers of the "stars" of the sport.
The world No. 6 lost to qualifier Lukasz Kubot in the first match of his title defense at the China Open in Beijing last week and said then that the top players were playing too much tennis.
He renewed his attack yesterday while admitting the ultimate negotiating tool, a players' strike, was unlikely.
"I think 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," the 27-year-old told reporters at his 16th tournament of the season.
World No. 1 Roger Federer pulled out of Shanghai citing fatigue, while No. 3 Andy Murray blamed a wrist injury for his absence from the inaugural US$3.24 million tournament.
"I don't think that's all of one big coincidence, and I just hope that the shortsightedness doesn't affect the length of careers," he said. "I think in tennis you definitely want your stars around as long as possible."
The top 30 men's players are obliged to play the four two-week grand slam events and eight of the nine Masters Series tournaments.
In addition, their best four results in ATP 500 events and best two in lower level tournaments count towards their rankings, effectively meaning they must play at least 18 a year.
"We've been talking about this forever, and now we get slapped with mandatory tournaments," said the 2003 US Open champion.
"We don't really have a whole lot of choices in the matter, which I don't think is the right way to go about it."
Roddick thought the men could learn from the WTA women's tour, which reorganized its calendar for this season and reduced the number of mandatory events from 13 to 10.
The American expressed his frustration that the people with the power to change things were often the same people who ran the tournaments, which was "a little bit of a conflict of interest".
The players were unlikely to boycott an event, however, he said.


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