Big four want Australian Open shifted to February

January 17th, 2009 - 9:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Roger FedererMelbourne, Jan 17 (IANS) The big four of the tennis world have joined forces in asking for rescheduling the year’s first Grand Slam, Australian Open, to February. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have stepped up pressure on the Australian Open organisers to move the tournament from January. The latest to lend his voice to Federer’s call for a February start is World No. 1 Nadal who said that the players required a longer period of preparation if they have to perform at their best at a Grand Slam after a season-end short lay-off.

“I think the conditions here are not bad but the tournament is very early,” Nadal was quoted as saying by The Age.

“It seems like you always arrive here without knowing exactly how you are. I am OK, I am practising well but you don’t know how you are. It’s the same for everybody.

Murray, the fourth-best player in the world, held the same view.

“There’s a few things with the calendar I think all the players would like to see happen,” Murray said. “Having the Aussie Open a couple of weeks later and having one of the (next tier down) 500 events in Australia beforehand would make sense. It makes for a better lead-up to the slam, I think.”

Nadal said Federer’s suggestion of a move to February was “a very good option”.

“The feeling for everybody is the same,” Nadal said. “You start the season and after one week you are playing one of the most important tournaments. It’s been like this for a long time. If this can change, perfect. If not, we fight.”

Tournament director Craig Tiley declined to discuss the scheduling but declared Friday that the tournament would not be moving. Australia’s Open, then, seems destined for a showdown with growing player power at some future point.

New ATP president Adam Helfant has recently met Federer and Nadal, seeking their opinions on possible changes to the tour. The ATP has input into the calendar and can add to the pressure to change dates, but does not determine the timing of the grand slams.

Murray, who will face Romania’s Andrei Pavel first up, said the Open’s timing meant players hoping to do well at Melbourne got little chance for a break over Christmas. “If you take a bit too much time off and don’t train in a warm climate in December, it’s tough to play the five-set matches,” he said.

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