Roddick accuses 'ridiculous' calendar of shortening careers

Leading players facing burnout as 11-month season hammers bodies and minds

Roger Federer has not travelled here for this week's Shanghai Masters, saying he is exhausted. Andy Murray is not competing either, having aggravated a wrist injury in the Davis Cup just four days after the US Open. Juan Martin del Potro, the champion of New York, is shattered, his fatigue underlined by a defeat last week to the world No 189. Andy Roddick, in his 10th year on the tour treadmill, took just six games off the world No 143 on the same day. Rafael Nadal, his year disrupted by injuries, has not played in a final for five months.

The current state of the game's leading players reinforces the argument of those calling for the men's calendar to be shortened. "It's ridiculous to think that you have a professional sport that doesn't have a legitimate off-season to rest, get healthy and then train," Roddick said here yesterday. "We finish around 30 November and have to be pretty much Grand Slam-ready by 4 January, year after year after year.

"We've been saying for a long time that it's tough to compete 11 months a year, yet we actually end up finishing the season a little bit later now. I don't think it's coincidental that you see Murray and Roger a little bit hurt now, or Rafa missing four months in the middle of the year, or maybe some odd results from Del Potro and myself last week. I just hope that the short-sightedness doesn't affect the length of players' careers. In tennis you definitely want your stars around as long as possible."

The current season began on 5 January and will end on 29 November with the climax of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, although the best players from the Czech Republic and Spain, including Nadal, will play in the Davis Cup final from 4-6 December. The new season starts 29 days later, only two weeks before the year's first Grand Slam event, the Australian Open.

While the top players are mandated to compete in eight of the nine Masters events and the four Grand Slam tournaments, the rankings structure means they have to play in at least 18 events to maximise their position. Add the Davis Cup, plus personal and sponsors' commitments, and the calendar is quickly filled.

Nadal missed a substantial chunk of this summer, including Wimbledon, after his knees finally buckled under the sheer weight of matches. The Spaniard said yesterday that it was "impossible" to play such a schedule.

"No sport can do that and it means that your career is shorter," he said. "It's impossible to be here playing as I have for the last five years, playing a lot of matches and being 100 per cent all the time. For the last five years I have been No 1 or No 2 in terms of matches played and I was OK, with only a few problems, but sooner or later it becomes impossible.

"I think everybody is working hard to try to change that, but it's difficult because there are a lot of interests involved, a lot of important tournaments, and it's difficult to say when you stop or start. I don't know the solution, but my opinion is that it must be changed and soon."

Roddick, who believes most of the top players share his views, would like the Association of Tennis Professionals, which runs the tour, to follow the lead of the Women's Tennis Association, which has cut its mandatory tournaments and will stage its season finale four weeks before the men's equivalent.

Might the men ultimately go on strike? "That's the last thing that anyone wants to do, but you get pushed against a wall," said Roddick, who agreed that the players might be better served by having a separate union, rather than the current half share of the ATP with the tournament organisers. He added: "I don't know that it's up to the players to be making business decisions about the schedule."

Roddick plays his first match here tonight against Stanislas Wawrinka, while Nadal starts tomorrow against James Blake, who beat Ivo Karlovic in three sets yesterday. The Croat, who has the game's most damaging serve, hit 27 aces but double-faulted on match point. Perhaps he too was feeling the effects of a long season.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment