Friday 20 April 2018

Tennis: Ferrer welcomes schedule change

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Paul Newman

When David Ferrer says he is tired you know that the season is too long. The 29-year-old Spaniard, a non-stop bundle of energy, is one of the sport's most durable players, but even he admitted on Saturday that he was feeling exhausted.

"I'm very tired," the world No 5 said after his semi-final defeat to Roger Federer here at the ATP World Tour Finals. "I want to stop, but I can't because I have Davis Cup. But I'm really tired."

While Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were preparing themselves for one last effort of the season in Sunday's final, Ferrer, Rafael Nadal and the other players competing in next weekend's Davis Cup final in Seville between Spain and Argentina are having to drag their aching bodies through one more week.

"I think all the players know the season is very long and is very tough for us," Ferrer said. "We play a lot of tournaments. We finish in December. Now I will play in the Davis Cup. Finally in December I will have only one week to rest and then I will come back in January to play in the new season. We know that and we want to change. We need to change the calendar."

The schedule is changing from next season, but as the new calendar begins in an Olympic year, 2012 promises to be just as demanding for the players. There will be the same number of mandatory tournaments, with the Olympic event shoehorned into the calendar between Wimbledon and the US Open.

A longer off-season is what most of the leading men have been seeking and they will have an extra fortnight off beginning next winter. Two weeks have been taken out of the 2012 schedule after the US Open, including one between the Paris Masters and the World Tour Finals.

From next year, the World Tour Finals will begin on a Monday, the day after the Paris final, and finish the following Monday. The field for the season-ending championships comprises the eight players who have earned the most ranking points in the year, which could mean the field for London will not be known until 24 hours before the tournament.

The change in the calendar looks certain to affect the amount of pre-publicity for the London finals. There will presumably be no opportunity for some of the pre-tournament events that have helped to generate interest in the competition in the last two years.

Another potential victim of the squeezed calendar will be the Davis Cup. The first round of Davis Cup ties comes a fortnight after the Australian Open, when players will be tempted to take a break before the Masters Series tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami, while the second is scheduled between the spring seasons on hard courts in north America and on clay in Europe.

While the All England Club is confident that its grass courts will recover in time for the Olympics, will the players be ready? The Olympic tournament begins just three weeks after the Wimbledon final and comes at the start of another intense spell of competition.

Nevertheless, from the end of next season players will at last have a decent chance to recharge their batteries in time for the next campaign.

The Women's Tennis Association has found that a reduced calendar helps to improve the fitness of players. The Association of Tennis Professionals will be hoping the men can follow suit. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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