Federer gives cautious thumbs up to shortened season

Roger Federer gave a cautious thumbs up on Sunday to the ATP’s decision to shorten the men’s calendar by two weeks from 2012.

London: Roger Federer gave a cautious thumbs up on Sunday to the ATP’s decision to shorten the men’s calendar by two weeks from 2012.

ATP chief Adam Helfant announced at the season-ending World Tour Finals that a seven-week off-season had been agreed to placate some of the world’s leading players who believe the current schedule is too long.

The Swiss 16-times grand slam champion was not one of the players calling for more time off but said he was happy enough with the decision taken at a board meeting on Saturday.

“I think it’s a good thing but time will tell,” the 29-year-old said of the move which will mean the ATP’s season-ending showpiece will start in the first week of November in 2012, immediately after the Paris Masters.

“It’s a decision taken. It’s in stone now. I think it’s good to have somewhat of a bit of a longer off season.”
“Will we have less or more injuries because the calendar is more packed? I don’t know. But I definitely think it’s a step in the right direction.”

Andy Roddick and Rafael Nadal have both called for more of an off-season, although Federer said the current calendar had worked well for him.

“I was not the guy fighting it as much as maybe other players because I feel if the season’s long, you take more breaks during the season,” he said. “But I think just having a bit more of an off-season makes more sense for everybody.”

Athlete Welfare

Helfant, who took over in 2009 and has made athlete welfare his priority, said the extra time off would allow players to recover from injuries and compete at higher level for longer.

“Our 2012 and 2013 calendars each provide for the seven-week off season, meaning that players will have an additional two weeks to spend away from the rigors of life on tour before taking up the cause again the following year,” he said.

The main bone of contention, and a possible headache for the ATP, will be that there will be no gap between the end of the Paris Masters and the Tour Finals, meaning the eight qualifiers might not be known until a day before the showpiece event.

The new calendar will also mean certain tournaments have been re-scheduled, although the amount of events will remain unchanged, former Nike executive Helfant said.

“Our players do not have adequate time to rest, work on their fitness and work on their game during our off season,” he said. “It is our responsibility as the governing body of the tour to see if we can find a way to address this issue.”

Helfant said he had spoken to the International Tennis Federation about changing the date of the Davis Cup final which is traditionally held the week after the Tour Finals.

“We’ve talked to the ITF, as we’ve talked to the WTA and others in the tennis family,” he said. “It’s really up to the ITF to decide what they want to do. (Moving it) seems like a sensible thing to do, however.”

Players on the women’s tour already enjoy an extended break as their season-ending WTA Championships took place in the final week of October.

Bureau Report