Paris: World number one Rafael Nadal called on tennis authorities to enforce a two-year rolling ranking system to preserve the health of players.
Nadal said the change from a one-year rolling ranking system would not only protect players from burning out but would also ensure that athletes coming back from long injury layoffs would not to lose too many ranking points.
"If we want to have longer careers for the players, I think we need to have a shorter calendar," nine-times grand slam champion Nadal told reporters after thrashing Croatian qualifier Antonio Veic 6-1 6-3 6-0 in the French Open third round on Saturday.
"But to have a longer career (the solution) is to have two years of ranking. Not only one year."
Nadal made the suggestion after Novak Djokovic faced 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in the third round. The Argentine`s ranking plummeted from fifth in January 2010 to 485 in January 2011 as he was sidelined for almost a year because of a wrist injury. At the French Open, Del Potro was seeded 25th.
"(With a two-year rolling ranking system) if you stop being No. 5 of the world, you`re not gonna be No. 6 when you come back, but maybe you`re gonna be No. 14, 15," Nadal explained.
"But with the way the ranking is done today, that`s not happening. If you have an injury for three months, five months, you are done."
Nadal, who said at 24 he is already feeling like he has been playing on the Tour for "100 years", brought up the subject at the ATP player council.
"I know a few players are happy with that (idea)," he said. "A few important players.”
Within the ATP council, Nadal, Roger Federer, Sam Querrey and Fernando Gonzalez represent the top 50 players.
The Spaniard, however, believes change takes time, and that he may be actually working for the next generation.
"Sometimes it is tiring for me to be all the time fighting and trying to have new ideas to improve (the players` condition)," he said.
"All the changes need a lot of time and that`s disappointing. It seems like I am working all the time for the next generations and I would love to have something for my generation."
Nadal, who does not like the fact he has often had to show up at the Queen`s Club grasscourt tournament in London less than 24 hours after competing in the French Open final, is fully aware that shortening the calendar would pose problems.
"There is a lot of interest in tennis," he explained.
"You cannot say right now, well, you are out of the Tour because we need a shorter calendar."
However, from next year the men`s calendar has been trimmed by two weeks to give most players a six-week off season.