ESPN analyst and former World No. 4 Brad Gilbert says the current tennis break due to the global health crisis will give Roger Federer a chance to heal but the situation is unprecedented for all players involved. In an interview to TSN Canada, Gilbert says, "I, honestly, don't know.
I mean, maybe it will favour somebody we don't know about and all of the sudden some 17- or 18-year-old (emerges). It' s given Roger Federer a chance to heal. Novak and Rafa had a mental edge on the field, but if you don't play for six months, I mean, this is unprecedented.
Usually when you don't play for six months it means you're coming back from a long injury. I do think, most importantly, it's about who is going to be able to maintain health? Who's going to be able to look like they're in great shape? I think we'll know pretty quickly.
But I couldn't tell you, 'Wow, this is a big advantage for this player,' other than for Federer who was injured and this is giving him a chance to recover without anyone playing." With no tournaments from mid-March to atleast mid-July for now, the ATP has decided to freeze the rankings which means that the current period will not count towards Novak Djokovic's total weeks at No.
1 in the record books. The Serbian is currently chasing the all-time record held by Federer, who has been No. 1 for 310 weeks while Djokovic is third on the list with 282 weeks. Gilbert says the ranking freeze is unlucky for the Serbian player.
"Totally unlucky, because Novak had lost early in Indian Wells and Miami (last year) and there was a good chance, if he played well in those tournaments, that he'd be able to retain the ranking through Wimbledon and probably be right there.
I feel like if they didn't do a freeze in the rankings and you lost points every week, Djokovic would (still) be No. 1 every week so I do think it’s unlucky. I kind of feel like if this goes 20 or 25 weeks, he might deserve to get those weeks ...
but since they've jointly decided that's what they’re going to do, that's what they’re going to do." Gilbert added that the tennis bodies should work together in the current crisis and work on the prize money distribution at events and the Slams.
"I really think between the ATP, WTA, ITF and the four grand slams, if those people got together and said, ‘You know what, we're going to have a commissioner of tennis, one voice instead of seven or eight different voices,' I think that would be great.
And it would be great if we change the prize money structure. It looks great for the ATP, WTA and slams when they announce there's a five or seven per cent increase for the champion, but I think it's ridiculous that from the Round of 16 to the quarters to the semis to the finalist to the winner the amount doubles, doubles and doubles.
It even does that in challenger events. So, I'd like to see better (distribution) in the prize money at slams and especially in 1,000-level events from the qualifiers through the first and second rounds.." The 58 year old, who also won an Olympic bronze medal at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, added that he would not be interested for the job of tennis commissioner "You need someone with good business acumen and somebody who is a great communicator and could really have a great understanding of what the slams want, what the ITF wants, what the WTA and ATP wants.
I think the NBA, NFL, hockey, a lot of these sports seem to thrive because of a commissioner and I do think that is really paramount for tennis moving forward and getting everybody on the same page. Maybe, instead of talking about having to build a perfect schedule, we can actually do something about it ... it took us 35 years to get one extra week between the French Open and Wimbledon."