ATP chief pledges to cut tennis season

The gruelling men's tennis tour, which traditionally leads to an injury pile-up by the end of every season, will be cut back.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2006 15:00 IST

The gruelling men's tennis tour, which traditionally leads to an injury pile-up by the end of every season, will be cut back.

That's the pledge from Etienne de Villiers, the new head of the ATP, the ruling body of the men's tour.

"We will shorten the season and will give players at least eight weeks to recover both mentally and physically but it's not the only solution," the South African told the BBC.

The ATP chairman is not convinced that the huge amount of withdrawals which affected, in particular, the Paris Masters at the end of 2005, were solely down to the demands of a calendar which this year features 68 tournaments worldwide.

"What happened at the Paris and Madrid Masters you might call a 'perfect storm'," said de Villiers.

"(Marat) Safin had knee surgery, (Lleyton) Hewitt's wife was having a baby, (Roger) Federer injured his ankle in training and (Andre) Agassi tripped over playing racquetball.

"Those were major withdrawals, but ony Marat's injury was really the result of playing a lot of tennis. It is a serious and hugely complex issue."

De Villiers believes the stress placed on players by new technology and the increased physicality of the game may be causing more injuries.

"We need to understand the cause of the injuries. There's a belief that the combination of the courts, the racquets and the tremendous strength and speed the players now have is causing a lot of the injuries.

First Published: Feb 04, 2006 15:00 IST