PARIS (Reuters) - Roger Federer has backed calls to shorten the tennis calendar to protect players from burnout by creating a six week off-season.
World number one Rafa Nadal, who has also said the season is too long, and top French player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are among the high-profile absentees due to injury at the Paris Masters this week.
“I think it’s time we shifted back a bit and we get a proper off-season really,” Federer, who has never gotten further than the quarter-finals, told reporters.
The ATP is to finalize its proposed calendars for the 2012 and 2013 seasons at a series of board meetings in London during the World Tour Finals in November. The governing body has said it was looking at a “meaningful way” to reduce a punishing schedule.
“Four weeks is just not enough off-season really,” Federer said. “Six weeks I think is much better as already you can take two weeks off...practice three, four weeks which is a lot for us in our world.”
Several top players are behind the appeal for a tour overhaul including world number two Novak Djokovic, who sits with Nadal on the Players’ Council.
Federer, who meets Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the second round on Wednesday, said it was in the “best interests” of tournaments which are often hit with a series of withdrawals toward the end of the tennis calendar year.
World number nine Fernando Verdasco attributed his recent poor form to the heavy schedule.
The Spaniard, who came through a tough three-setter against veteran Frenchman Arnaud Clement on Tuesday, had only won one match since the U.S. Open in September.
”Yes, maybe I am a little tired,“ the sixth seed said. ”The year is very long and for me personally it’s been an extremely long three years.
“In 2008, there was the Davis Cup final ... I had just three days holiday and last year we were again in the Davis Cup final.”
Editing by Ed Osmond