Tennis

Navratilova backs moaners

2011-09-21 20:36
Martina Navratilova (File)

London - Former Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova believes the sport's leading male players are right to consider going on strike in a bid to take control of their overcrowded schedule.

Navratilova knows from experience just how draining life on the tennis circuit can be for top stars and she has sympathy for the growing discontent among stars like Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

World No 4 Murray recently revealed players have had enough of being pushed into gruelling schedules by the ATP, who govern the men's Tour, and are likely to discuss the possibility of strike action at a meeting in Shanghai next month.

The threat has been criticised by some, but Navratilova, winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles, believes the likes of Murray, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer would be right to flex their muscles should the powers that be not listen to their concerns.

"If it's the only way they can get to that point, that's what they have to do - if they can unify themselves enough and if that's the last resort," Navratilova told BBC Radio Five Live.

"Without the top players, you really don't have anything and if they band together like that then the powers that be have to talk to them and listen to them.

"They have been complaining about the long schedule for a long, long time and nothing has happened. The schedule is just as long.

"We're the only sport that does not have an off-season. For the guys who are still playing in December, or even without the Davis Cup, they have about four weeks, then they start up in January.

"It's crazy, You can't do that year after year after year. It's going to take its toll which means your career is going to be shorter, you're not going to play as well, you're going to be injured. Nobody wins in that scenario."

Navratilova had concerns about the demands on the leading players on the women's tour when she was at her peak.

But she admits the sport is far more draining both physically and mentally these days.

"I was complaining about the calendar being too long 25 years ago. We have shortened it on the women's side - I think the women play about a month less than the guys," she said.

"But now, especially with Davis Cup, for Nadal or Djokovic or Federer the schedule is just untenable.

"Nowadays the players travel much more than we did. The schedule is more spread out over the whole world.

"They're playing on hard surfaces, with metal rackets, everybody hits the ball harder, it's definitely more taxing on the body.

"When someone in as unbelievable shape as Nadal runs out of gas at the US Open, it's too much.

"You only have one body, one career, you want to make the most of it. I don't see why Andy Murray should be criticised for taking control of his life."

Read more on:    tennis  |  martina navratilova
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