(AFP) – Nov 13, 2008
SHANGHAI (AFP) — Tennis chiefs on Thursday rejected calls to re-think next year's schedule after world number six Andy Roddick criticised plans to force players to attend more tournaments.
Senior ATP official Brad Drewett said the new format, where players must attend eight new Masters 1000 events and four lower-tier events, was not up for discussion.
"I respect Andy's view. He's a very intelligent and good-thinking young man and his views are valued," said the ATP International chief.
"But in the end the board decided, taking into account everyone's perspective, that this would be the best way forward."
Roddick pulled out of the ongoing Tennis Masters Cup with an ankle injury, joining world number one Rafael Nadal on the sidelines, and then blasted the new schedule.
"I think too much is asked of us as far as playing 11 months of the year, and now they're imposing more mandatory tournaments," he said.
"It doesn't make a whole a lot of sense. It's unfortunate for someone like Rafa that goes out there and does things the right way. No one is ever going to question how much effort he gives every time he's on the court.
"I don't think anybody wants to be on the court more than he does, so at a certain point you would hope they start respecting our opinions a little bit more."
With the Australian Open in January and the season's climax, the World Tour Final, in November, successful players may only have one month's rest per year.
But Drewett said sponsors, broadcasters and fans were all in favour of the new series. Players face being barred from Masters 1000 events if they fail to show up.
"I've spoken to Andy about this, I respect his opinion but the ATP is taking into account the views of all the stakeholders and believes this way forward is the right one," he said.
Roddick pulled out shortly before his group match with defending champion Roger Federer on Wednesday. Nadal withdrew with knee tendinitis and is also skipping Spain's Davis Cup final against Argentina.
"This particular injury had nothing to do with it being a long season. It was an accident and it was unlucky it happened," Roddick stressed.
"That being said, I think I've been pretty forthright in my opinions on regarding the schedule and it being too long."
Concerns over the crowded schedule have long plagued tennis. In 2005 Chinese organisers voiced anger when Roddick, Nadal, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin all missed the Tennis Masters Cup.
Injury worries have also threatened to overshadow this year's edition with Federer carrying a back problem and Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro nursing a split big toenail.
The equivalent women's event lost top draws Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic due to a stomach injury and virus respectively.
Shanghai will host a Masters 1000 tournament next October with other stops in Indian Wells, Miami, Rome, Madrid, Montreal, Cincinnati and Paris. Monte Carlo will also have a non-compulsory event in the same series.
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