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Tennis stars’ strike threat

TENNIS: Leading men’s tennis players could go on strike if the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) schedule is not reformed, said world number four Andy Murray on Monday.

Thursday 22 September 2011, 04:14PM

Britain’s Andy Murray is one of a number of leading male tennis players who want the scheduling changed.

Britain’s Andy Murray is one of a number of leading male tennis players who want the scheduling changed.

The 24-year-old Scot told the BBC that he had held several talks with other players at the US Open, and they would be discussing the matter further at the Shanghai Masters early next month.

Matters came to a head at the US Open when rain forced some players such as Spanish star Rafael Nadal to play matches on three successive days before immediately travelling to Europe to play in the Davis Cup with just one day’s rest time.

The players were also incensed by the announcement last year by ATP chief executive Adam Helfant, who has since decided to leave the governing body, that the Paris Masters and the World Tour Finals would be played back-to-back.

However, Murray made clear the players’ patience was wearing thin.

“It’s [a strike] a possibility. I know from speaking to some players they’re not afraid of doing that [striking],” said Murray.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that but I’m sure the players will consider it.”

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Murray, who is still without a Grand Slam title but this year reached the Australian Open final and the last four of the other three, was adamant that their voices had to be heard and that a strike or boycott will be discussed in Shanghai.

“If we come up with a list of things we want changed – and everyone is in agreement but they don’t happen – then we need to have some say in what goes on in our sport,” said Murray.

“We’ll sit down, talk about it with the ATP and International Tennis Federation (ITF), see if they will come to a compromise and, if not, we’ll go from there.”

However, the sport’s administrators have also claimed that the players have themselves to blame for the heavy schedule.

ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said last week that complaints by Nadal over the Davis Cup scheduling were “inconsistent”, saying players voted for the current dates, against the ITF’s wishes, back in 2009.

The ATP have hit back too, saying they have taken into account the increased stress on the players by reducing most finals to the best of three sets, allowing the top eight seeds byes into the second rounds of tournaments, and increasing the overall prize money.



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