I wrote about Nadal's remarks about Roger in my previous post and got some positive feedback on it. After their first round matches in Melbourne, both Nadal and Federer addressed the issue, and both regretted that this issue was so widely revealed in the media.
As well as the issue of the length of the season (which I'll get
to later), it was revealed that there was a chance of a strike being
discussed at the players-only meeting. One issue is the distribution of
prize money, where Davydenko said that at Indian Wells some players can
lose money after paying tax and travel costs to compete. This is a
grievance that I can concur with, as it is only a detriment to the
lower-ranked players and doesn't help their careers, but is it a big
enough issue to go on strike? I guess that depends where you sit on the
fence. Personally, I don't think going on strike will help get the
problem resolved, and it would definitely create an uproar with tennis
fans who want to see the highest level of tennis. To me, the two sides
need to come to some agreement and work from there. But no strikes,
because that wouldn't help anything.
The biggest complaint is the length of the season, and this is
the problem that I certainly do not understand. The length of the
season is the same as it has always been. Players can still manage
their schedules so that they don't make the season too long for
themselves (like Roger does), and there are even two Masters Series
events that some take off if they choose to (Monte Carlo and Shanghai).
The length of the schedule is not a problem. When you look a little
deeper, you see why Nadal's accusations are kind of, well, wrong. After
the Australian Open, the first Masters event of the year is in March,
Indian Wells. That means the top guys can take a month off to rest
their bodies, or very near it if they take a week to play in a
tournament like Dubai, Rotterdam, or Belgrade. Then, after Wimbledon,
the next Masters event is in August in Canada, which means the top guys
can again take a month off to recover their bodies after the long spring
season. This is what Federer, Nadal, and many other top players do
(the Americans generally play in their home country small events).
Then, after the US Open, the next Masters event, Shanghai, is in
October. That means, once again, that the top players can choose to
take that time in between off to heal. So if you eliminate those three
months of any competition (bar maybe one or two tournaments), the season
is not even 11 months for these top players, but rather 8 months. For
the lower-ranked players it is a different story, but that is why there
are numerous ATP 500 and 250 events at their disposal to help them get
points and money. So you see, for the top guys, the length of the
season should NOT be an issue. Of course, there is Davis Cup and every
four years the Olympics, but Davis Cup is not mandatory and the Olympics
are once every four years so it isn't relevant enough in the calendar.
The main problem with the schedule is not the length, but the strain of
it. By that, I do not mean that there are too many tournaments, no.
What I mean is that the surfaces have been homogenized so much that every surface barring indoors and maybe grass is very strenuous on
the body. Indian Wells and Miami are basically clay courts with the
speed at which they operate. Then you have the very long, too long,
clay court season. This spring stretch of the season is FAR too
physical, even for a guy that moves so gracefully like Roger, and I
truly believe it hurts the players the rest of the year. So blame the
ATP for the slowing down of the courts and not varying the speed of
them, don't blame the length of the season, if you are upset about the
way things are operating.
Whatever happens, this rift between the players about certain
conditions on the ATP Tour needs to be smoothed out immediately, for the
good of the players, sponsors, and fans. There is a compromise here to
be met, that can satisfy both Federer and Nadal's needs. But
realistically, Federer doesn't have any complaints so he doesn't really
have any needs since he doesn't mind the way things are. Anyways, I hope the issue is put aside until February and we can have a nice and peaceful Australian Open fortnight.
Until next time, Kyle.