Should Players Stop Complaining About The Schedule?



by PHILIP MARE

Should Players Stop Complaining About The Schedule?

Yesterday, Rafael Nadal again lashed out at the full ATP schedule, saying that players aren't given enough time to rest. The Spaniard has been by far the most zealous among the players when it comes to complaining about the schedule, and this latest outburst might be more than most people are willing to stomach.

Why? He threatened to strike if the calender isn't shortened. Now let's bear in mind that the top players are required to play only certain events. The Masters 1000 events are mandatory - except for Monte Carlo - as are the Grand Slams.

Players also need to enter a certain number of ATP 500 and ATP 250 events. If you have been in the Top 10 for more than a certain amount of time, you are even allowed to skip a second Masters 1000 event - which Roger Federer and Andy Roddick have done in the past.

Nadal has played 21 events this year, and that's even after he was injured and missed time after the Australian Open. Had he not been injured, he likely would have played even more. Nobody has forced him to play so much. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic haven't - they've only played 19 events each.

So why is Nadal complaining about these self-inflicted wounds? To be fair, he isn't the only player who has complained about the calender. Federer, Djokovic and Murray have all voiced their concerns, but none have been as vocal as Nadal.

And granted, it is a pretty hectic schedule. But can the top players really complain about it? And can we really entertain the idea of a strike without laughing at the incredulity of it all? What Nadal - and the other top players - are failing to take into account is that they aren't actually the only people on the ATP Tour.

There are hundreds of guys out there who are thrilled at the many tournaments and opportunities there are throughout the year, and don't ever complain about it. Gilles Simon, Janko Tipsarevic, Nicolas Almagro and Alexandr Dolgopolov have all played nearly 30 events this year, and by the end of the season will likely have gone way beyond that.

Other players are already in the 30s, and will probably near 50 before the year is out. So would it really be fair to everyone to kill a bunch of tournaments because the Top 4 think they're playing too much? These are the people making millions of dollars each year, after all.

The worst thing is that the same players who complain about the long year play exhibition matches during the off-season. This is sometimes for charity, but often just for the money. A major issue for Nadal seems to be the timing of the Davis Cup.

It's usually held after the Grand Slam week. There has been debate about changing the format for this competition for years now, and it should indeed be changed. However, going on strike because of it is absurd. Perhaps the ATP should lower the number of mandatory tournaments slightly, but to shorten the season by a month - which Nadal has advocated before - is counterproductive.

The season will already be shortened from next year, and to further cut it would be madness. The reason Nadal and the other top players gets paid so much money is because tennis is such a popular sport. Cutting the season and killing a bunch of tournaments is going to do nothing for the overall health of the sport.

It can only damage it. It might be time for Nadal - and all the other top players - to give this argument a rest already.