SBD/September 20, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Andy Murray: Tennis Players Could Strike If Scheduling Changes Not Made

Murray said a strike is a "possibility" if players' complaints are ignored
Tennis player Andy Murray said that "the world's top players are prepared to strike to help change the tennis calendar," according to Alexandra Willis of the London TELEGRAPH. Murray is one of "several players to voice concern at the conflict of interest between the ATP World Tour, responsible for the operations of the men's events during the year, and the International Tennis Federation, which oversees the grand slam tournaments and the Davis Cup." The players, led by Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, will hold a meeting at the "forthcoming Masters tournament in Shanghai next month, one of two compulsory events still to be played this year." It is "hoped that the meeting will give all the players on the men's tour the opportunity to offer their opinions, and agree [to] a list of requests that are applicable whether they are ranked in the top 10, top 50, or top 100." Murray said, "We just want things to change, really small things. Two or three weeks during the year, a few less tournaments each year, which I don't think is unreasonable." The men's tour "requires players to compete in a minimum of 12 events alongside the four majors," and finishes with the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena at the end of November. That is followed by the Davis Cup final in early December. The "threat of a strike will resurrect memories of the incidents of 1973, when 79 players boycotted Wimbledon after a conflict broke out between the ITF and the then newly-formed ATP after the ITF had suspended Niki Pilic for allegedly refusing to compete in a Davis Cup" match (London TELEGRAPH, 9/20).

WILLING TO WALK: Murray said a strike is a "possibility." He added, "I know from speaking to some players they're not afraid of doing that. Let's hope it doesn't come to that but I'm sure the players will consider it." Murray indicated that he thinks "the subject of a strike or boycott will be mentioned during the meeting in China." Murray: "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. At the moment we don't." Murray continued, "Since I've come on the tour we've tried for a shorter calendar. To get another change implemented may take five or six years at the rate things are going and by then all of us will be done (retired). We want it to happen sooner rather than later" (LONDON TIMES, 9/20).

NO WORSE THAN IT WAS IN THE PAST: Former ATP member Michael Stich today said he did not think Murray's complaint "is a good one." Stich said, "I didn't complain -- and I played in tournament singles and doubles. ... I don't think it is a big issue. They are not playing more than we did 10 or 15 years ago and they have shorter seasons than we used to. When people like Stefan Edberg played in singles and doubles at Grand Slams, they (just) did their job. Andy Murray doesn't even play four rounds of Davis Cup each year." He noted today's players "should never forget this is a partnership." Stich: "If they were to go on strike, they should think what would happen if the tournaments went on strike. They would have no career, no income, no profession. It (striking) is not a good solution" (BBC.co.uk, 9/20).
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