Juvenile ITF needs to grow up and help Nadal and Co. with fixture pile-up
The International Tennis Federation responded to Rafael Nadal’s comments about an overcrowded calendar, compounded by unfavourable Davis Cup dates, saying they are not to blame, opting for a defensive approach rather than looking for a solution.
Nadal has been criticising the tennis calendar for several years now and after Friday’s singles matches he hit out at the Davis Cup organisers once again.
When asked if the players would go on strike the world No.2 did not rule out a “strong action” if necessary. It’s not the first time the Spaniard has complained but it is the first time we’ve see him use this threatening tone.
Which is probably why ITF president Francesco Ricci publicly lashed out at him saying: “Nadal has all the right to feel tired after playing 70 matches this year, but that’s not the fault of the Davis Cup, which he has played only three times in the past two years.”
Ricci also referred to the fact that the current dates of the Davis Cup quarters and semis were lobbied by Nadal himself together with Roger Federer and Andy Roddick amongst 20 players who petitioned in 2009 that these fixtures be moved from two weeks after Wimbledon and the US Open to the weekend after the two Majors.
The fact is that drastic change is needed and the ITF and ATP need to work together instead of being at each other’s throats all the time. Until the two can come to an agreement to make proper room for the Davis Cup, then the players will continue to suffer.
Pointing out that Nadal – who is known to be one of the most enthusiastic Davis Cup players – has missed several ties these past few years is simply proving the Spaniard’s point that the players want to play but they often can’t.
Ricci ruled out the idea of making the Davis Cup a biannual event, an idea which has been favoured by some players including Nadal, and although I myself am a big fan of the competition, frequent withdrawals from the top athletes often make it hard to take some of the results seriously.
This weekend Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga couldn’t step in for Serbia and France, which definitely had an effect on the bad results both nations suffered on opening day.
Players like Federer have been constantly criticised for missing out on his Davis Cup duty and the problems get even more complicated when players need to travel crazy distances depending on the country they are playing.
No player would intentionally miss out on the chance of playing for their country and being part of a team in such a solitary sport, especially the top stars. I think it’s time the ITF stopped looking for someone to blame and started coming up with a solution.
Switching the Davis Cup to a biannual event can help give it a greater stature since people will look forward to it and viewership might increase but the calendar during Davis Cup years would be just as problematic as the current situation.
I think the ITF’s attack on Nadal was juvenile and they should be busy searching for a fix with the ATP rather than trying to lay the blame on exhausted players.