According to Milos Raonic, the tennis season should end in September.
“I think we should start in January because you’ve got the [Australian] summer and finish up at the end of the [American] summer. Have the final eight tournament preceding the US Open. I think it gives it a nice storyline,” he told tennismash.com on Thursday.
Raonic opened his 2017 campaign at world No.3 and made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open before feeling pain in his abductor. It didn’t get any better with left wrist surgery forcing him to miss the US Open and Laver Cup, and a calf strain eventually saw him call time on the season. He finished the year with no titles and a 19-place slip to world No.24.
“You’ve got the top five guys from 2016 – nobody finished the season this year. Three of the guys were out pretty early on. Murray, Stan and Novak were out since Wimbledon. That’s half the year gone. Myself, I played because I was hoping I was able to do something but I wasn’t in the shape to play. And Kei also stopped quite early one,” Raonic said.
“We play 11 months. It would be a very different circumstance if we played in one continent for 11 months, but we’re all over the world. That also has to go into consideration. I think there’s a lot of space where tennis loses its continuity and the attention of the fans. There could be a little bit more of a consistent storyline.”
Raonic is not alone in his criticism of the ATP schedule.
“It’s getting extremely difficult to maintain a high level of consistency throughout the year,” Boris Becker said in 2011. “…We don’t want our best players burning out at a young age. There has to be less tournaments.”
Rafael Nadal shared similar thoughts in 2009. “It’s impossible to be here playing like what I did the last five years, playing a lot of matches and being all the time 100 percent without problems,” he said.
And earlier this month, in an exclusive interview with Tennismash, former world No.4 Robin Soderling said, “There were so many guys that were injured [in 2017], and tennis can only blame itself for that. The season is way too long, it’s not like other sports where you have a three, four-month off-season where athletes can rest and recover. In tennis, we have a few weeks in December and that’s it. You start again the day after New Year’s Eve. The sport would really benefit from having a longer break.”
After two months off, Milos Raonic is now back to ‘100%’ health. The big-hitting Canadian, who has won a title in Brisbane and reached two quarterfinals and one semifinal at the Australian Open in the past three years, is pain-free but not yet match-fit.
“I’m 100% healthy but only 80% through my offseason. I would have liked to have a bit more training in the offseason but my injuries kept me delayed. The priority was to get healthy – I was sort of chasing too much so I couldn’t get healthy,” he said.
“I feel better than last year because I’ve had more time to prepare. Last year the season finished late for me and so time was limited and everything ended up being a rush. Now I’ve had time to take off and recover.”
He is part of a big group of high profile players returning to the tour after lengthy hiatuses in 2017 and, in his view, the favourite to win next month’s Grand Slam is very much up in the air.
“It’s hard to know, it’s really hard to know. If you look at it from how things ended last year it’s Roger and Rafa, but it’s hard to discount guys when they’ve had time to train – I think Roger proved a lot of people wrong in that sense.”
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