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Murray warns of players strike

LONDON, England, September 20 – Leading men’s tennis players could go on strike if the ATP schedule is not reformed, claimed world number four Andy Murray on Monday.

The 24-year-old Scot told the BBC that he had held several talks with other players at the US Open and they would be discussing the matter further at the Shanghai Masters early next month.

Matters came to a head at the US Open where rain forced some players such as Spanish star Rafael Nadal to play matches on three successive days then have one day off and travel to Europe to play Davis Cup.

The players were also incensed by the announcement last year by ATP chief executive Adam Helfant, who has since decided to leave the governing body, that the Paris Masters and the World Tour Finals would be played back-to-back, so two weeks have been saved in the 2012 ATP calendar.

However, Murray made clear the players’ patience was wearing thin.

“It’s (a strike) a possibility. I know from speaking to some players they’re not afraid of doing that (striking),” said Murray, who was beaten by Nadal in the US Open semi-finals.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that but I’m sure the players will consider it.”

Murray, who is still without a Grand Slam title but this year reached the Australian Open final and the last four of the other three, was adamant that their voices had to be heard and that a strike or boycott will be discussed in Shanghai.

“If we come up with a list of things we want changed – and everyone is in agreement but they don’t happen – then we need to have some say in what goes on in our sport,” said Murray.

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“At the moment we don’t.

“We’ll sit down, talk about it with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and International Tennis Federation (ITF), see if they will come to a compromise and, if not, we’ll go from there.

“We just want things to change, really small things. Two or three weeks during the year, a few less tournaments each year, which I don’t think is unreasonable.”

Murray said it was vital the issues were raised now.

“Right now it takes so long to change things.

“To get another change implemented may take five or six years at the rate things are going and then all of us will be done (retired). We want it to happen sooner rather than later.”

However, the sport’s administrators have also claimed that the players have themselves to blame for the heavy schedule.

ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said last week that complaints by Nadal over the Davis cup scheduling were “inconsistent”, saying players voted for the current dates, against the ITF’s wishes, back in 2009.

The ATP too have hit back saying they have taken into account the stresses on the players by reducing most finals to the best of three sets, allowing top eight seeds byes into the second rounds of tournaments and also increased the prize money.

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