Tennis ATP World Tour Schedule Must Change for the Good of the Sport

Michael PettiferContributor ISeptember 18, 2011

A sight witnessed too often in the modern game
A sight witnessed too often in the modern gameAlex Livesey/Getty Images

The Davis Cup is a an event steeped in history, and one that has held an important place on the tour calendar for over a century. The tournament is meant to offer the fans the chance to see the best players in the world compete for their countries, to the best of their abilities. Unfortunately, this was not always the case at this weekend's semifinal matches.

Only one week after their hard fought US Open final, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were back on the court, fighting to take Spain and Serbia through to the final of the Davis Cup. Too early, you say? That's what they thought.

Djokovic was forced to retire from his match against Juan Martin Del Potro with a back injury. The result meant that Argentina went through to the final with a 3-2 win over Serbia.

Although, Nadal eased through his matches against Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, he was unusually vocal about the overcrowded scheduling of tournaments.

"They don't want to change anything," said the World's No. 2. "You can't always just think about the personal benefit. It seems as though those in charge aren't aware."

"We're not machines, we're at the limits of our physical ability," added Nadal's teammate, David Ferrer. "No doubt something has to change," he insisted.

The ITF are responsible for the scheduling of the Davis Cup Tournament, with the ATP responsible for the rest of the season's calendar. It would seem that the two organisations will need to come together sooner or later to discuss the problem.

One clear example of the current problem was seen at the US Open, two weeks ago. By Thursday, in the first week, 14 players had been forced to retire from their matches, with 11 of those suffering from musco-skeletal problems

Whether those injuries came as a result of bad scheduling, or just the sheer number of tournaments throughout the season, is unclear. What is clear is that the situation is now becoming detrimental to the game itself. Something must be done.

Andy Murray chose to blame the ATP, after a draining Davis Cup weekend. "The mandatory events is the worst thing," Murray said, referring to the four minor tournaments the players have to play, along with the grand slams and the Masters 1000 events. 

"I'm being quite open about it, some of the smaller events, because the ATP's messed up the smaller tournaments by giving them 250 points, it doesn't really make much sense to play in, because 250 points isn't going to make hardly any difference."

The relatively low number of ranking points available in the mandatory, smaller ATP tournaments is another issue that must be addressed. These events do not hold much meaning for the top players when such low rewards are offered—the fact that they're mandatory can only hurt the sport, and possibly the players themselves, in the long run.

Unless, something is done about the clearly overcrowded schedule, expect the players to take matters into their own hands in the not too distant future.