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More stars have their say on strike talk


 

Originally published on: 22/09/11 10:23

After Andy Murray risked the wrath of many followers of the game with his comments that players are willing to strike because of their crowded schedule, Martina Navritalova has leapt to the defence of the world No.4, arguing that the men’s schedule is unsustainable.

A keen supporter of the game and winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles, Navratilova agrees that the players are right to consider action as a result of the busy ATP calendar.

“You cannot maintain that level of intensity and not put your body in hospital eventually,” she said in an interview with the BBC.

“I don’t know why Andy Murray should be criticised for taking charge of his life.

“If [striking] is the only way they can get to that point, then that’s what they have to do if they can unify themselves enough and that’s the last resort.

“Of course all tennis players want to play. That’s what you train for. But I was complaining about the calendar being too long 25 years ago, saying we need to shorten it.”

The WTA calendar has been shortened in recent years to tackle an increasing number of withdrawals from tournaments, with the season now ending in October and the top players now required to play in 11 tournaments over the year, reduced from 13.

“We have shortened [the calendar] on the women’s side and now women play about a month less than the guys,” said Navratilova. “But now, especially with the top players being involved in the Davis Cup, for a Nadal or a Djokovic or a Federer, then that schedule is just untenable. We are talking about longevity.”

Also part of the debate is the issue of pay, due in part to the events of this year’s US Open, where the top players – including Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray – felt that their needs were not being put first and, despite the fact that they are an integral part of the show, they are awarded a minor percentage of the total revenue.

“I have been trying to tell people that talent normally wins in negotiations,” said Roddick during the tournament. “If Bono doesn’t want to go on tour, then it all falls apart. But until we unite as one voice, then we’re not gonna get what we want.”

The American’s sentiments have been echoed by world No.70 Somdev Devvarman, who has claimed that players are underpaid and that he supports the idea of forming a players’ union outside of the ATP.

“What happened at the US Open just stirred things up,” said the 26-year-old Indian. “Also, we get only 12 per cent of the revenue while it is we who generate the revenue. The players should have a good say in such matters.

“Lots of players like Rafa, (Andy) Roddick, (Andy) Murray have spoken about it. Tennis is one major sport which has no players’ union but with the recent happening the game is about to see a change.”

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