Federer backs plans to shorten season

Paris: Roger Federer has backed calls to shorten the tennis calendar to protect players from burnout by creating a six week off-season.

World number one Rafa Nadal, who has also said the season is too long, and top French player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are among the high-profile absentees due to injury at the Paris Masters this week.

"I think it`s time we shifted back a bit and we get a proper off-season really," Federer, who has never got further than the quarter-finals, told reporters.

The ATP is to finalise its proposed calendars for the 2012 and 2013 seasons at a series of board meetings in London during the World Tour Finals in November. The governing body has said it was looking at a "meaningful way" to reduce a punishing schedule.

"Four weeks is just not enough off-season really," Federer said. "Six weeks I think is much better as already you can take two weeks off...practise three, four weeks which is a lot for us in our world."

Several top players are behind the appeal for a tour overhaul including world number two Novak Djokovic, who sits with Nadal on the Players` Council.

Federer, who meets Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the second round on Wednesday, said it was in the "best interests" of tournaments which are often hit with a series of withdrawals towards the end of the tennis calendar year.

World number nine Fernando Verdasco attributed his recent poor form to the heavy schedule.

The Spaniard, who came through a tough three-setter against veteran Frenchman Arnaud Clement on Tuesday, had only won one match since the US Open in September.

"Yes, maybe I am a little tired," the sixth seed said. "The year is very long and for me personally it`s been an extremely long three years.”

"In 2008, there was the Davis Cup final ... I had just three days holiday and last year we were again in the Davis Cup final."

Bureau Report

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