• ATP Tour

Murray warns ATP that top players could strike

ESPN staff
September 19, 2011

Andy Murray has confessed there is a "possibility" that the sport's top names could eventually go on strike if they are not given a sufficiently influential voice on how the game is run.

Murray recently expressed his frustration at the "messed up" ATP Tour schedule, highlighting issues with the volume of mandatory events, as well as the unfairly balanced points system attached to smaller tournaments. The world No. 4 stated: "The schedule's messed up and we need to change it."

Now Murray has summed up the seriousness of the matter, following a recent injury suffered by Novak Djokovic, whose back gave up on him during a weekend Davis Cup tie. Murray has been forced to pull out of Davis Cup matches himself in the past to avoid a similar scenario, and he revealed players on Tour will stick together if things do not change.

A forthcoming meeting in China will see the players discuss the future of the sport and, asked by BBC Sport if the prospect of a strike will be discussed, Murray replied: "Yes I think so.

"I know from speaking to some players they're not afraid of doing that," the Brit continued. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that but I'm sure the players will consider it. 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.

"We'll sit down, talk about it with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and International Tennis Federation (ITF), see if they will come to a compromise and, if not, we'll go from there. 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."

Murray believes that, after many years of requests, the players on the ATP Tour are finally making their point. In the Scot's eyes, the ITF is beginning to become sympathetic to the plight of the likes of Murray, Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who regularly reach the semi-finals of tournaments.

"I've spoken this week to a couple of guys who work at the ITF and I think they understand players now are quite serious about doing something," Murray said to BBC Radio Five Live.

"We're competing in the biggest events against the best players, it's pretty gruelling. There is extra stress on the body... we work hard and don't get much of a break. We need to have some say in things that go on in our sport, which right now we don't at all really."

The ATP responded by reminding Murray and Co that the schedule is already set to improve, beginning with the 2012 season. "The players should and do have a major say in how the game is run, which is one of the key reasons the ATP Tour was formed as an equal partnership between players and tournaments," the ATP said.

"As you know, the calendar has long been a topic of conversation and just last year we announced that we would be lengthening our off-season by two weeks beginning in 2012, meaning players will have seven weeks in between ATP World Tour seasons.

"The health and wellbeing of the players is paramount, and the ATP has implemented a number of changes to address player health concerns in recent years - including reducing draw sizes of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, giving byes to the top eight seeds, and eliminating five-set finals."

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