Novak Djokovic is not entirely convinced that the ATP tennis season is currently running at maximum efficiency. The World No. 2 has his doubts about the structure of Davis Cup events throughout the year, as well as Grand Slam tournaments, which he believes are too close together in the season.
“I think that having Australian Open as one of the four Grand Slams right at the start of the season is a little bit too early. And then having such a long gap to the next Grand Slam, and then having Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and US Open in a matter of two‑and‑a‑half months. I think that’s ‑‑you know, depends from what perspective you’re looking at, but I think that’s something that is not ideal.”
Djokovic, who avenged his semi-final loss to Roger Federer last month with a title win at Indian Wells, admit that he did not take part in the Davis Cup tournament this season because the scheduling was simply “too rough” following two weeks in Melbourne for the Australian Open. He says that it is issues such as these that have kept many of the top players away from the tournament over the past decade.
“So, yeah, scheduling can be worked around a lot. I think that also the Davis Cup is also subject for ‑‑ you know, over the years you don’t see that many top men’s tennis player being part of Davis Cup in last 15 years, which is sad, because it’s the only official team competition where we get to represent our country, aside the Olympic Games. It’s something that makes us very proud. I enjoy playing it. But like, for example, this year, sometimes I have to make a decision not to play it because the scheduling is just too rough, you know.
“I mean, Davis Cups always come after the major tournaments and after a month or month and a half of playing at a top level. So I think these kind of discussions have to be, you know, on the table and see if we can change the format or if we can change maybe not playing best of five, maybe changing playing best of three and playing ‑‑ instead of three playing two days, so that, you know, there are things that you can talk about.”
The former world No. 1 also mentioned that he senses that the tradition and legacy of the sport actually hinders the ability to make rational progressions and advancements. His involvement in the politics of tennis has made it clear to him that fear of change limits improvements in the sport.
“But, again, it’s been like that for so many years. I have a sense that, you know, spent 10 years at the professional level and was three years involved in politics of tennis and was in council. I get the sense that people are just too afraid of doing ‑‑ you know, going towards some rational maybe changes or improvements or just something that, you know, they are always afraid it can disturb the history and the culture that this sport possesses.”
Part of the issue, according to the top ranked Serb, is that there are too many governing bodies in tennis competition. It greatly complicates matters for both the athletes, as well as the causal fans and spectators, who will be hard-pressed to fully understand what is going on.
“But it’s always so complicated because it’s structured ‑‑ tennis, the structure is so complicating that it’s very difficult to achieve something, because you have to go through a different governing bodies, to different organizations. We belong to ATP, but then there are Grand Slams and there is ITF and there is WADA and there is ‑‑ you know, I think too many organizations. For people outside of tennis it’s also complicated to follow that up and really understand what’s going on.
I think we have to make it more simple in order for this sport to grow.”
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