Scottish tennis player Andy Murray has apparently taken it upon himself to be the spokesperson for many of his peers. He recently said he and his fellow male players may go on strike if the pro tennis schedule in the ATP World Tour isn’t cut back somewhat in the near future. Murray isn’t the only one who’s spoken out about the overload of tournaments and some type of action against it could be seen by next year.
The ATP World Tour operates men’s tennis events each year while the International Tennis Federation takes care of the Davis Cup as well as the sport’s grand slam tournaments. According to Murray, several players who are on the ATP Players’ Council, such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal are going to meet in Shanghai at the Masters Tournament in October to discuss the matter.
The players will meet with officials from the International Tennis Federation and the Association of Tennis Professionals to see if they can work out some kind of compromise. The players will share their feelings with the organizations and give them a list of requests. Murray said they’d like to see a few small changes such as fewer tournaments during the year and an extra couple of weeks break. Murray said the players don’t really have much of a say in what goes on in the sport and that should change.
The argument about the tennis schedule isn’t something new as it usually takes place about the same time each year. This is usually because they’ve spent the previous nine months the season practicing for and then playing the four grand slams. But they still have another three months to go before they get a break in December.
Women tennis players had their workload reduced a couple of years ago when the amount of compulsory events was cut down to 10 from 13. This also allowed them to end their season in October, giving them about nine weeks break each year. The men are required to play in at least a dozen tournaments each year as well as the four grand slam events. They finish their season early in December after the Davis Cup.
Adam Helfant, the chief executive of ATP, will be leaving the organization at the end the year, but has already cut out two weeks of next year’s men’s tennis schedule, giving them an extended break. He managed to do this by placing the Paris Masters and season-ending O₂ tournament back to back. However, the number of mandatory events and total tournaments will remain the same.
The ATP released a statement which said the players have a say in how the game is operated and deserve to. Is added that the organization will always try to work with the athletes and other tennis bodies to try and work out any major issues they have.
However, the International Tennis Federation took a different stance by reacting angrily after hearing Nadal complain about the timing of the Davis Cup and the grand slams events. Francesco Ricci Bitti, the president of the ITF, said Nadal might feel tired towards the end of the year, but it’s not due to the Davis Cup because he’s only played in it three times during the past four seasons. He added that the ITF didn’t agree with the Davis Cup date changes.
Tennis has been operating relatively smoothly over the past 38 years. The last time there was a disruption came back in 1973 when 79 players decided to boycott the Wimbledon tournament in England after a dispute with the ITF and ATP. The players were protesting the suspension of Niki Pilic, who was banned after allegedly pulling out of a Davis Cup match.