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Nadal wants different surfaces for ATP finale; Djokovic backs tournament move

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Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is looking for his first ATP World Tour Finals title. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

LONDON — Rafael Nadal, who is making his sixth appearance at the ATP World Tour Finals, has yet to win the season-ending tournament, which he has contested each time on his least favorite surface, indoor hard courts. Nadal said he would love to see the tournament change surfaces every year. After a two-year run on outdoor hard courts in Houston from 2003-04, the World Tour Finals spent four years on indoor carpet/hard courts in Shanghai and the last four years and counting on indoor hard courts in London.

Asked Monday why he struggles at the round-robin event featuring the eight best players for the year, Nadal said: “One of the small reasons was fatigue. One of the big reasons is I have not always been a fantastic player on indoor. Just a few times have I been able to play at a high level on indoor.

“The third thing is because I feel like I am unlucky,” Nadal said of the surface of choice. “During these nine years the Masters Cup was on indoor, a surface that was not the best for me. So probably for me I was a little bit unlucky in this because in the past we had the Masters Cup on other surfaces. I understand, but I think this is unfair.”

The World Tour Finals, which used to be called the Tennis Masters Cup, will remain here until at least 2015 and there’s already talk of extending the arrangement beyond that. Nadal made it clear that his critique wasn’t aimed at organizers.

“I cannot find a better place to have a Masters Cup than here because the stadium is one of the best stadiums I’ve ever played,” he said of the O2 Arena in London. “But that doesn’t mean the ATP cannot be a little bit more fair to all the players. In the World Tour Finals, we qualify on all surfaces. It would be a little bit great — I’m not talking about me because I know it won’t happen for my generation, so I’m talking for the next generations — [to have] something more fair to the players and I think for the fans it would be something more interesting to change the surface every year.”

Novak Djokovic would like to see the event moved around more often — no more than three years in any one city — but for different reasons.

“Because of the promotion of tennis,” Djokovic said at his pre-tournament news conference. “Just having the popularization of this sport in places where tennis isn’t as popular. I think that if we are looking forward to expand the success and the consciousness of our sport, which is very global, then we should look into that. We should look into allowing other cities in the world compete for this tournament.”

Nadal needs only two victories at this week’s World Tour Finals to clinch the year-end No. 1 ranking over Djokovic, who arrived Sunday night after winning the Paris Masters and improving to 17-0 since the U.S. Open. The Spaniard said the No. 1 ranking meant more to him when he earned it for the first time, in 2008, but now he’s just pleased he’s been able to play healthy and at a high level since returning from a seven-month absence in February.

“For me, the history of this year is not No. 1,” he said. “The history of this year, my year, is after seven months without any chance to compete, without the chance to play or practice tennis, I was able to be back and win from the beginning.”

Nadal opens against David Ferrer during the day session Tuesday. Djokovic plays Roger Federer in the evening.

UPDATE: Federer disagrees with Nadal about changing surfaces.

  • Published On Nov 04, 2013
  • 37 comments
    Vinny Cordoba
    Vinny Cordoba

    Just leave it alone. It was an afterthought before it finally settled in London. Now it feels like a big deal, as it should.

    MatthewNeiger
    MatthewNeiger

    The WTF ends the indoor hard court season just as Wimby and RG end their respective surface seasons.

    Seems pretty straightforward.

    KingsvilleTennis
    KingsvilleTennis

    why not try the SHELL courts of the Philippines for the ATP World Tour Finals? Am sure the change in surface would really test skills of the players.. plus you could promote TENNIS globally.. 

    it"s been ages since a top caliber player graced our shores..

    neeraj0272
    neeraj0272

    Both Rafa and Novak has extremely valid points. If this tournament has to be counted among the premier tournament along with the grand slam events it should move to varied places and most  suitable yearly. Otherwise its just another tournament. Holding it in different corners  of the world would undoubtedly be great for promotion of tennis.

    tenniscoachaaron
    tenniscoachaaron

    u guys are just mad rafa is coming up as the greatest......... the guy has won everything that matters and counting.... haters, i love it! fed and djok fans just cant handle that rafa wins everything else and are scared he is gonna win the WTF now! hilarious.....

    gopdogg
    gopdogg

    More self-serving whining from Rafa. 

    ikayodeo
    ikayodeo

    The ONLY reason Nadal has the most Masters 1000 titles is because so many of them are on clay! How about he complain about that! Lets play some indoor!

    ikayodeo
    ikayodeo

    Perhaps Nadal should stop complaining about the surface and just get use to it. Roger Federer had NEVER complained at the fact that there are NO Masters 1000 events on grass - especially during his most dominant period on the surface. Roger could easily have 10 more masters titles or more if at least 2 masters 1000 events were on grass. The ATP Tour is always listening to Nadal complaining and slowing down hardcourts shutting out the true shot makes like Roger and others for the long rally grinders like Nadal! THE TOURNAMENT IS PERFECT WHERE IT IS!

    Tom14
    Tom14

    Perhaps Blue Clay next year Rafa? Every tournament its another complaint unless he wins. Say what you want be in the end the most remarkable thing about Rogers career will be his play from 2008 will be that he played from January to November, beginning in the Far East and circled the glob twice. 

    CMassrey
    CMassrey

    Ugh!  Nadal is such a complainer!  Maybe the FO should switch surfaces so that someone else, who isn't as good on clay, can have a better chance to win RG!!  Nadal always complains when things aren't exactly perfect for him.  He also quit the ATP board as vice president because he couldn't get them to change to a 2-year ranking system (to benefit him) among other things.  Personally I hope the YEC has a permanent home just like the majors.  And since it falls in November... it should be indoors!  I personally wish it would go back to being lightening fast carpet like when it was at Madison Square Garden.

    Ace2020
    Ace2020

    As for fatigue? Everyone is fatigued and he is the fittest player out there so it's a ridiculous excuse, as usual. Not even getting into the unlucky comment.... Luckiest player out there. Can't believe I once supported this guy. Mind games with other players, complaining about things that don't suit him etc. Really talented players don't have to do that rubbish.

    Ace2020
    Ace2020

    Oh for heaven's sake. When is Nadal not moaning? It's not the ATP's fault he isn't very good on indoor hard. I am sick of him complaining about anything that doesn't suit his game and then trying to pass it off as being concerned for everyone else. Selfish and egotisitcal. Him and Toni really need to lay off making these stupid comments.


    Perhaps Murray should blame the ATP for not winning a clay title. Nadal needs to get over himself and get on with it. This year he has a joke of a draw so he might actually win. Then he might change his tune.

    CMassrey
    CMassrey

    @neeraj0272 , Why?  The majors don't move around and they stay on the same surfaces?  Why shouldn't the WTFs?  Maybe RG should have changed to something other than clay for a few years so Sampras would have had a better chance to win it?  Nadal is lucky that they have slowed the surfaces down so much. He wouldn't have any Wimbledon titles if the grass played like it did when Sampras or Borg played.

    Ace2020
    Ace2020

    @tenniscoachaaron Proof Nadal fans are about 12 years old. The greatest? Roger has 17 slams incase you didn't notice. Also hilarious comments about Novak considering Nadal fans were horrible about him after 2011.

    Whether you like Nadal or not his comments are selfish and make no sense. It would be the same if Novak, Federer and Murray complained about surfaces that don't suit their games. But they wouldn't. Truly talented players don't need everything to be in their favour. End of story. 

    CMassrey
    CMassrey

    @tenniscoachaaron Well, if he can't win the WTFs with the cake RR group he has this year, it would be pretty pathetic.

    CMassrey
    CMassrey

    @ikayodeo, the nine TMS should be varied surfaces.  There should be a few clay, a few grass, a few outdoor hard and a few indoor carpet/hard.  Nadal is lucky that he has three TMS on his very best surface.  Can you imagine how many TMS titles Fed and Sampras would have if there were three TMS a year on grass?  

    mangstadt
    mangstadt

    @ikayodeo Of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments played each year, three are on clay and six are on cement (four outdoor, two indoor). So with one third of the Masters 1000 on his best surface, I really don't see where the advantage lies for Nadal. Maybe he's just more consistent on his best surface (clay) and does quite well on his second-best surface (hard court outdoor). 

    The World Tour Finals have been played on hard court indoor, Nadal's worst surface by far, ever since Nadal first qualified for them. He has every right to suggest changes are due after eight years of WTF on hard court indoor (Fed's best surface next to grass).

    Ace2020
    Ace2020

    @ikayodeo Exactly. Slowing down the surfaces has helped him a lot. He is very lucky, considering how little winners he usually hits. Don't see Roger whining about that. Selfish and egotistical, can't believe his fangirls still buy the "Nadal is so humble" PR crap.

    TooPawned
    TooPawned

    @shackle52 So Novak thinks for the benefit on the TENNIS and you say it is self serving? He didn't ask to change the surface or to move to Belgrade, so explain, what is self serving in what he said? 

    You are biased degenerate fanboy. You are not a tennis fan, you are fed nut hugger. go away bozo.

    mangstadt
    mangstadt

    @Ace2020 As for fatigue, Nadal, Djokovic and Ferrer have played more tennis matches than anyone else this season. When you reach so many finals like Nadal, it means you have to play many matches to get to those finals. It is only natural for players who reach the final rounds so often to be tired. If you get knocked out early time and again you can complete the season with half or one third the number of matches that a top player has to withstand. 

    neeraj0272
    neeraj0272

    @Ace2020 so a guy cannot say aloud the truth. Isn't it not natural for fatigue to set in at the year end? That is why there is a break from the sports. To get rid of this fatigue. All the players feel it. Also there is mental fatigue also. Some are more dazed than others. Maybe Rafa is one of them. He is just saying what he feels. 

    Also you  do not find Rafa talented? Please compare Federer's achievement with Rafa's since Rafa burst on the scene. I have been following tennis for the last thirty years and I can say that Rafa has been the best player of these last thirty years. Only Novak's unbelievable run of last year could surpass that. That run of Novak was the best tennis any tennis player played ever. If Novak can sustain that for the next three-four years then he would deserve to be counted among the greatest.

    CMassrey
    CMassrey

    @Ace2020 , as you say, they are all fatigued at this time of year, so no excuse.  But Nadal is hardly the 'fittest' guy out there.  Why he gets the 'warrior' moniker is beyond me.  There are plenty of guys who don't miss nearly as much time as he does - Federer and Ferrer to name two.

    CMassrey
    CMassrey

    @Ace2020 , true that Nadal got a 'cake' RR group.  He should easily make the semis.  

    neeraj0272
    neeraj0272

    @CMassrey @neeraj0272 do you think there can be more than four majors? Never. However there can be four majors and a special year end tournament. Now to become great like a major, this tournament will have to distinguish itself otherwise it would always remain just another tournament. One solution can be to put insane amount of money. Other can be to put insane amounts of ranking points in it. But the best solution can be to make it so testing that audience are thrilled like at no other tournament and players will also play their best at such a tournament. Changing surfaces seems a good idea as players having grasp on all the surfaces should be given bonus points. After all only agassi, nadal and federer has the distinction of winning grand slams on all the surfaces in the open era. Not even the previous all time great Sampras could do it. 

    Reg between federer and nadal , its no match and Nadal is better than Federer. I would rank maybe Agassi also higher than federer because agassi came back from zero and won again and also agassi won on all surfaces. Federer's French open victory is courtesy soderling and we all know federer has been just chancing his luck for the past few years and indeed he had gotten lucky. For these last years everybody knew that Federer will always lose to first Nadal and then Novak. And Now everybody can beat Federer. Can you say this about Novak or Nadal? Nadal has sustained his top game over a very long period, he has confidently won on all surfaces, he has made a great comeback, he has consistently beaten federer and most importantly he has showed the character of a true champion. I don't think federer is a match for nadal  in the all time greatest.

    Prometheus77
    Prometheus77

    @CMassrey @neeraj0272 

    Apples and oranges. There are 4 grand slams on 3 different surfaces. There are several other tournaments on different surfaces which players play to qualify all year. Since the WTFs is the culmination of the year, why should it remain on the same surface year in and out?? Since there is only one WTFs and not 3 or 4 for every surface, it would be only fair to change surfaces frequently.

    JoseGonzalez
    JoseGonzalez

    @CMassrey @neeraj0272 And maybe Federer would've lost some of his Wimbledon titles to Andy Roddick or some other big server, as the mixture of grass which slowed the surface down was implemented before he won any of his seven titles there.  There's a real lack of intellectual honesty in all the hypotheticals being thrown around by the righteously angry Federer fans (and possibly Novak fans, but it's the Federer ones who seem to be most insecure these days) around here.  Rafa, Novak, and Roger have all made fair points.  I think, as I said in the companion article, that the fair thing to do would be to have the WTF change surfaces and two change one of the two hardcourt outdoor majors be changed into and indoor tournament.  That would be more balanced than what we have now.

    Carlos1103
    Carlos1103

    @CMassrey @ikayodeo  Also, it is interesting that you say Nadal is lucky to have 3 masters, when HC should be a better advantage for Fed and there are 6 of them... Seems to me that wtth the number of HC masters 1000, Fed should be ahead in the department...

    Carlos1103
    Carlos1103

    @CMassrey @ikayodeo  To be honest, it wouldnt be that different, since the like masters to change would be hard (there are 6 of them, 4 outdoor and 2 indoor), and Fed has won a ton of the HC ones. So the only thing that would change would be the distribution, not the total.

    CMassrey
    CMassrey

    mangstadt...poor Nadal.  Whaa whaa whaa!  In Fed's 2006, he made the final of every tournament he played but one.  He made the finals of every major, winning three.  He went 22-0 AFTER the USO, including the WTFs.  I'm guessing he was pretty tired but he won, didn't he?  So don't give me this sob story about Nadal.

    CMassrey
    CMassrey

    neeraj0272, I've also been following tennis for over thirty years and no way is Nadal the best player, imo.  Both Novak and Nadal are great players.  But neither of their best years compares to Federer's best years.  Fed had the best 3-year period of anyone in history.  Nadal and Djoker have both had one 3-major year.  Fed has had three and in two of them he also was in the final of the fourth (neither Rafa nor Djoker did that).  And in a few of those years, Roger also won the WTF.  In 2006 when Roger won three, made the final of the 4th, Roger also went 22-0 AFTER the USO, winning the WTF.  Those guys can't hold a candle to that.

    Carlos1103
    Carlos1103

    @neeraj0272 @CMassrey  Are you crazy? I wont get too much into the whole Nadal vs Fed argument. My favorite is Rafa, but I truly believe Federer is the most complete player and greatest of all time. Best in GS and Weeks at #1, second in Masters 1000, Most number of slams in a single tourney (4 at AO, 5 at USO, 7 at Wimby are all first place, although AO and USO are ties), most consecutive Finals, Semis and QF of slams, etc. Nadal also has his points, like H2H, career GS win percent, best ever on a single surface, most consecutive years with a GS win, most ever MAsters 1000, etc. 


    However, you must be a bit drunk to say Agassi is better than Fed. Fed won his courtesy of Sod?? What do you think would have happened if Agassi had to beat Nadal for his win??? Same thing that happend to Fed 4 times (plus 1 in the semis). Agassi would have 0 French. Fed was the better overall claycourt player and all around player as well. So please reconsider that blasphemous statement. Dont get me wrong, Agassi is an all time great, but no where near Federer. In my eyes, in the Open era, it ranks this .way:


    1) Federer

    2) Nadal

    3) Borg


    The rest is up for grabs...

    JoseGonzalez
    JoseGonzalez

    @CMassrey @neeraj0272 Also, the WTF is not a major.  That's a point which a lot of folks (and possibly Roger himself) seem to be missing.  The WTF is supposed to decide the year end best out of the top eight.  The format is different and it's more like a spectacle designed to highlight the best guys of the season than it is a drawn-out competition.  That's why it isn't considered to be as important as a major and also why I think it would lend itself to Novak's idea of holding it in different places more often.

    neeraj0272
    neeraj0272

    @CMassreyey unfortunately for Federer the big question will always remain that as soon as Nadal erupted on the scene, why Federer's dominance was over? Why Federer even in his prime always lost to first Nadal(who was primarily a clay courter) and then Novak and later on every sundry player got the best over him?

    Agreed that Federer was in a class of his own and he played the most exquisite shots. But tennis is played to won matches and artistry is second to that objective. Also mental toughness is a huge aspect of the game and not even Fed fans will be doubting that Fed had been fearful of playing Nadal. And Nadal has again proved his mental toughness by making an astonishing comeback. This comeback should also give bonus points to Nadal in the race to all time greatest.

    Like someone else pointed out that if Fed, Rafa, Novak were all of the same age Fed's tally  of grand slams would have substantially dropped. Also Nadal is still playing and counting!

    gr8sou
    gr8sou

    lol...u consider 2004-07 as dominance...the competition was mind numbingly pathetic that federer faced on grass and HC's! plus the one 3 major year that rafa had is far more superior than the silly 3 slams federer won over 3 yrs...one simple reason...rafa won on 3 different surfaces...that is a humungous achievement...even ur idol knows he can never match that...give rafa the competition that roger had during that period and he may have put a Grand Slam by now...roger is by far the least impressive player in the top 20 list...but yeah he is definitely the luckiest player alive...those 17 slams look so fake...and its just 2 matches away for roger to boast of a losing h2h against 3 of his main rivals...i wonder what wud have happened if all 4 were of the same age...roger wudnt have collected even 5 majors...if i am a roger fan i wud keep my head buried as my idol is a punchbag for the other top 3! what a shame!