Australian Open

Federer plays down Nadal feud

2012-01-16 15:00
Roger Federer (AP)

Melbourne - Roger Federer said on Monday he had no hard feelings towards long-time rival Rafael Nadal after the Spaniard accused the 16-time Grand Slam winner of not doing enough to back fellow professionals.

Federer said there was no rift with the world No 2, with whom he has enjoyed a close relationship over the years despite their fierce rivalry, and he respected his right to voice his own opinions.

"Things are fine between us, you know. I have no hard feelings towards him," said the Swiss superstar, bidding for a fifth Australian Open title.

"It's been a difficult last few months in terms of politics within the ATP, I guess, trying to find a new CEO and chairman. That can get frustrating sometimes.

"But for me, obviously nothing changes in terms of our relationship," Federer added. "I'm completely cool and relaxed about it. He seemed the same way - or at least I hope so."

Nadal believes Federer, who is president of the ATP Player Council, needs to do more to support players over issues that concern them and made a surprising attack on the Swiss on Sunday.

But on Monday Nadal said he regretted making his comments to the media, insisting he still enjoyed a close relationship with Federer.

"Probably I am wrong telling that to you, especially because these things can stay, must stay in the locker room," Nadal said.

"I always had a fantastic relationship with Roger. I still have a fantastic relationship with Roger."

Players met new men's tour chief Brad Drewett in Melbourne on Saturday and are reportedly unhappy over Davis Cup scheduling and their share of prize money at the Srand Slam tournaments, among other issues.

Andy Murray last year spoke of the possibility of a strike with Nadal refusing to rule out the move, and talk of downing tools has again swirled at the season-opening Grand Slam in Melbourne.

In his hard-hitting remarks to Spanish media, Nadal, a vice-president of the player council, said: "It's easy to say I do not say anything, everything is positive and I stay 'a gentleman' while others burn."

"We each have our opinion and perhaps he likes the circuit. I like it too and it is better than the majority of sports. But that does not mean it can't be better and that things which are bad cannot be changed."

Russia's former world No 3 Nikolay Davydenko weighed in on Monday following Nadal's surprising broadside, saying that "perfect" Federer was distancing himself from problems in the men's game.

But a calm Federer said on Monday said it was impossible to agree on everything and he welcomed Nadal's strong opinions on the issues affecting the game, insisting he was fully behind his fellow players.

"I completely understand and support the players' opinions. I just have a different way of going at it. I'm not discussing it with you guys in the press room. It creates unfortunately sometimes negative stories," he said.

"I think of the players first," he added. "Usually when I take decisions, I think of the lower-ranked players first. I hope they know that."

And Federer, who eased into the second round along with Nadal on Monday, said that while strike talk was dangerous, if it came to the crunch he would support his fellow professionals.

"If there's no avoiding it, I'll support the rest of the players. But I just think we have to think it through how we do it, if we do it, can we do it, whatever it is, instead of just going out and screaming about it. That's not how I think you're going to get results."

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