Nadal: Schedule ruining tennis in Europe, endangering careers

5/1/2008 - Tennis

BARCELONA, Spain -- Rafael Nadal has made a thinly veiled attack on the ruling body of the men's game, saying that
the ATP's crowded calendar is ruining tennis in Europe and
endangering the longevity of players' careers.

The Spaniard, who next month will bid to win the French
Open for the fourth consecutive time, said he had virtually
given up hope of the situation changing for the better.

The ATP has made several changes to the calendar in 2008 to
accommodate the Olympic Games, meaning that Nadal will play
four tournaments on clay in four weeks, with just a week off
before the French Open.

Three of those tournaments are Masters Series events, which
automatically count toward a player's ranking.

"These people are destroying Europe and Europe used to be
the foundation of the tour," Nadal said in Barcelona, where he
is defending his Barcelona Open title.

"I think it's completely impossible to play at one's best
level for all four tournaments -- Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome
and Hamburg.

"You just have to accept this situation, all the players
will be the same, they will not be able to play at their high
level for all four, I think it's totally impossible."

Nadal said tournaments would have to accept that more top
players than usual were likely to suffer early defeats.

"I think that when a player loses in the first round or
pulls out -- and they get criticized -- the tournament should
ring these people [the ATP] and tell them that it is their

"I have some e-mail conversations with these people but it
is true that they end up doing what they like and I am getting
tired of it all."

Nadal's comments were backed up by American James Blake,
who said the whole calendar needed to be restructured.

"The Olympics is such a unique experience that we need to
make arrangements for, but the calendar is too packed and maybe
we should take out the Davis Cup in Olympic years," Blake said.

"You'll see how many matches [Nadal] plays this clay-court
season, how many matches guys like {Roger] Federer, [Andy] Roddick, [Novak] Djokovic and myself play throughout the entire

"It's probably too much to expect a player to have a
lengthy career. It makes it very difficult."