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Players flex muscles at US Open

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Originally published on: 08/09/11 22:48

After all the midweek drama, you could feel player power building on Thursday and fed by the questions posed at his press conference, Andy Murray was particularly outspoken on some of the issues facing the US Open and tennis in general.

Murray reminded us that at tournaments run by the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals), the players have a representative who looks after their interests. “We have an ATP Tour manager, like ATP referees, so looking out for the players is what they’re obviously there to do,” he said.

At Grand Slams, run by the ITF (International Tennis Federation) the player representation is different. “Here we have an ATP Tour manager who was in the locker room with us beforehand yesterday,” explained Murray. “He was saying, ‘it’s still raining out there, guys’. You shouldn’t go out there and play. And then the referees here, it’s different. You know, it’s the ITF. They want us to go out on the court. If it was at an ATP tournament we wouldn’t have been on the court, but because it’s not, the ATP don’t run the Grand Slams, then it’s not always up to us.”

Murray went on to talk about the issues here, caused not just by the lack of a roof (unlike in Melbourne and at Wimbledon), but also the scheduling.

“Having a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday first round doesn’t help,” he said. “Having the semis on Saturday and Sunday I don’t think helps [either].”

His suggestion to resolve some of these issues is that the players sit down and discuss them, particularly in view of the fact the ATP is currently searching for a new CEO, caused by the announcement earlier this year that the incumbent Adam Helfant is stepping down. Murray also went as far as to say that the discussions should include the women as well. He suggested a meeting could happen after Davis Cup, (16 -18 September), perhaps during the Asian swing. “I think the sooner it’s done the better for everyone,” he finished.

Nadal expressed similar views, but he was quick to point out that talking in English is difficult for him and he did not want to be misquoted. “The problem, in my opinion, is not the organisation of the US Open. The problem is we don’t have enough power in these kind of tournaments. That’s what have to change very soon.”

Andy Roddick made a surprise appearance on Court 13 today when his fourth round match against David Ferrer was moved from Louis Armstrong due to water leaking through a small crack in the court. Asked after sealing his quarter-final place if perhaps he is the man to represent the players, he said: “At this point in my career, I would jump at the chance to leave the sport in a better position for the players moving forward.”

The American has a view of what is needed for the job too. “It’s just tough to come together,” admitted Roddick. “I think you have to have the right person involved who might understand the business side of it, might actually understand numbers, the way something works.”

The rain at the US Open has been pivotal in opening up this discussion and it seems we are on the cusp of a power shift in the professional game. The players are looking to have more of a say in how the tour’s work and have been quick to go public with their thoughts in recent days.

It will be fascinating to see how this story develops over the next few months. It seems as if the ‘power game’ in tennis has taken on a whole new meaning.

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