Net Gains: Helfant sets off fireworks with bid to extend off-season by three weeks

Adam Helfant, the executive chairman of the Association of Tennis Professionals, has kept a low profile since stepping into the job last year and built a reputation as a cool and calm administrator. However, the American could set off some fireworks when the ATP, who run the men's tour, decides later this year whether to make changes to the tournament schedule.

Helfant is among those advocating a longer off-season in order to give players a better chance to recover from their exertions. Some players might view a longer break – an extra two or even three weeks is being discussed – as the chance to play in some lucrative exhibition events, but Helfant believes that would be defeating the object. He would like to see exhibitions banned during any extra time off that is given to the players. "I've been very clear with the players and the tournaments that if it were just up to me, which it obviously isn't, the two or three weeks that the off-season could be lengthened by would have a mandated period of rest," Helfant said. "I can't say that everybody feels the same way."



'Stop war, start tennis'

Pakistan's Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and India's Rohan Bopanna have been doing their bit for world peace. The doubles pair have been trying to promote better relations between their two countries and have been wearing sweatshirts carrying the slogan "Stop War, Start Tennis". Qureshi, who has become a big name in his country, said: "We always said sports can reach places where no religion or politics or politician can reach. If you can change people's minds on the Indian or Pakistani side, it's a great thing."



Graveyard court for home hopes

The United States' men had a poor US Open, failing to produce a quarter-finalist. Some were unhappy at what they saw as unfair scheduling, claiming they had little opportunity to get used to Arthur Ashe Stadium, the cavernous main showcourt. Mardy Fish, playing his first match there for two years, lost to Novak Djokovic and blamed his unfamiliarity with the breezy conditions. John Isner lost his only match in the stadium to Mikhail Youzhny and Sam Querrey, the last home man standing, went out there to Stanislas Wawrinka. Andy Roddick knows the stadium as well as anyone but it couldn't stop the US No 1 losing there to Janko Tipsarevic.



Fran's food for thought

Trust an Italian to think of food when asked to describe their game. "It's like capricciosa pizza," Francesca Schiavone said, comparing her varied style with a dish that includes mozzarella, tomato, mushrooms, artichokes, ham and olives. "I don't give you margherita, I give you capricciosa – different ingredients."



Gold-dust workout for Golding

Andy Murray did not get to face Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, but Oliver Golding did. The 16-year-old Briton, who reached the junior semi-finals at Wimbledon, was invited to hit with the world's No2 and No 3 players on the practice court. Golding has also been working in New York with Greg Rusedski.



p.newman@independent.co.uk

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