Stich serves up response to Murray's comments

Following Andy Murray's suggestion that players could strike, Wimbledon winner Michael Stich defends tennis calendar.

     Stich says the players of his era played just as much tennis and never complained [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Tennis great Michael Stich has given complaining tennis stars some stick after Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal criticised the hectic tennis calendar.

    The former Wimbledon champion says that top players threatening to strike in protest at a crowded schedule should stop living in a dream world.

    Rumblings of discontent have surfaced in recent weeks with world number four Andy Murray claiming on Monday that leading players were "not afraid" to consider strike action.

    The jam-packed calendar has long been an issue and leading players will meet at the Shanghai Masters next month to discuss their grievances.

    However, Stich believes they have little to complain about.

    "They have a shorter season than we used to have. I played singles and doubles and you look at guys like Stefan Edberg they played singles and doubles at grand slams and they never complained"

    Michael Stich

    "I don't think it's a big issue," the German, who won Wimbledon in 1991, told the BBC.

    "I think the players forget that all the tournaments out there provide them with jobs.

    "They are not playing more than 10 or 15 years ago. It's just like they are running after exhibitions, they are trying to make more money and don't even fulfil their commitments to the smaller tournaments some times.

    "They have a shorter season than we used to have. I played singles and doubles and you look at guys like Stefan Edberg they played singles and doubles at grand slams and they never complained, they loved it, it was their job."

    In response to Andy Murray's recent complaints, Stich had some firm words.  

    "Murray doesn't even play four rounds of Davis Cup throughout the year. It's not down to the tournaments and the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals), it's down to the players themselves. Perhaps they need to look out for their bodies and pick their tournaments better?

    "They seem to want to play less but have more prize money and have more influence on the schedule. It's not a dream world out there it's a job and if you take that on you have to deal with the situations you find."

    It's a partnership

    Stich, who also won the Wimbledon and Olympic doubles titles, said crowded tournament schedule allowed lower-ranked players to earn a living.

    "They should never forget that it's a partnership," said Stich.

    "If they go on strike they should think what about if the tournaments went on strike because then they wouldn't have a job, no income and no career.

    "They should get into discussions that are reasonable, which is happening, but to go on strike is not a good solution." 

    Currently, top-ranked players are obliged to play all four grand slams, eight Masters Series events, the ATP World Tour finals should they qualify and a handful of smaller ATP tournaments. On top of that they also have Davis Cup commitments to their countries.

    Stich believes players like Murray should take more responsibility over their tennis schedule [GETTY] 

    Things came to a head this month at the U.S. Open when bad weather forced players in the bottom half of the draw, which featured both Murray and Rafa Nadal, to play three singles matches in three days just to reach the semi-finals.

    While there was little any one could do to stop the rain, Murray said he felt the sport's organisers needed to listen to the concerns of the players over the schedule.

    "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. At the moment we don't," Briton Murray said on Monday.

    "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."

    Last November ATP chief Adam Helfant announced that the season would be trimmed by two weeks and a seven-week off-season will be in place from 2012.

    This year world number two Nadal could find himself playing in December in the Davis Cup final with the 2012 season beginning less than a month later.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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