Djokovic wants shorter tour


MELBOURNE, January 12 – Novak Djokovic said Tuesday he would try to use his influence as a member of the ATP Player Council to work for a shorter schedule for the men's tour.
The world number three will start 2010 in a low-key fashion Wednesday, facing Tommy Haas on the opening day of the eight-man Kooyong Classic, considered the top tune-up event for the Australian Open.

"This is a main priority," said the Serb. "But (fixing the season) is not just about the players, we have to consider everyone.

"We are trying to fight for player rights," said Djokovic, winner of five titles last season, during which he played more matches than any other competitor.

"It’s important that people understand how we feel. The season is too long, four or five weeks before the start of a new season is so little.

"We need at least two months at a minimum."

Djokovic said the controversial topic will come up for discussion in meetings during the Australian Open, with the first grand slam of the season starting on Monday.

Djokovic heads a Kooyong field that is missing regular Roger Federer, who on Sunday declined a place that had been held open for him.

Joining Djokovic are French Open finalist Robin Soderling, Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez, German veteran Haas, US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.

Croatian Ivan Ljubicic was added as a late replacement for Federer.

Officials announced that after Saturday’s final, legends Pat Cash and Henri Leconte would meet, with Briton Andy Murray also expected to play a practice match against an unnamed opponent during the four-day event.