ATP schedule too taxing, warns Roddick

SHANGHAI: Frustrated Andy Roddick said Monday the ATP was wearing out its top players, warning that a men's tennis schedule without a proper off-season was asking for trouble.

The American, who is trying to recover form after losing early last week in Beijing, now has a fresh start at the Shanghai Masters, beginning in the second round against the winner between Swiss Stan Wawrinka and Pole Lukasz Kubot.

In any interview with AFP ahead of the Masters 1000 event at the Qi Zhong complex, Roddick said that the ATP could be heading for a clash with worn-out top players if something did not change in an 11-month calendar.

"It's ridiculous to think you have a professional sport that doesn't have a legitimate off-season to rest, get healthy, and then train," said the three-time Wimbledon finalist.

"We're finished -- what is it -- November 30 after the season-ending World Tour Finals in London, and have to be pretty much Grand Slam ready by January 4, year after year after year after year.

"It's tough to compete 11 months a year, and this is going on my 10th year now. We've tried to make our voice heard for a long time. And we end up finishing a little bit later now (in 2009)," added the world number six.

Roddick said that although top players were generally in agreement about an excess of tennis, only dire circumstances would warrant any type of industrial action.

He obviously prefers to talk the nagging matter out.

"That (industrial action) is the last thing that anyone wants to do, but, you get pushed against a wall ...," he said.

"I don't think any of us wants to do that, because even more so than feeling a responsibility to the powers that be in tennis, we feel a responsibility to the fans.

"The last thing we want to do is cause something, let's say, (at) the year-end championships where, (if) you bag that, (it's) the ATP tour's biggest moneymaker."

Roddick added that noone was suggesting a breakaway over the issue.

"We don't want to have to go through setting up a new tour. Who knows how many, a year or two, we're going to lose in that process?"

With Roger Federer (resting) and Andy Murray (injured) missing Shanghai, Roddick said his point had been proved.

"I don't think it's coincidental that Murray and Roger (are) a little bit hurt now or Rafa (Rafael Nadal) missed four months in the middle of the year (knee and abdominal injuries).

"I just hope that the short-sightedness doesn't affect the length of careers, you know. I think in tennis you definitely want your stars around as long as possible."

On court at the Qi Zhong complex Monday, a pair of Spanish seeds dismissed French opposition as both made a case to be included on December's Davis Cup squad facing the Czech Republic in Barcelona.

Number 14 Tommy Robredo beat Michael Llodra 6-1, 6-4, while David Ferrer, seeded 16th, put out Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-3.

Unseeded James Blake advanced into a meeting with Nadal despite 27 aces from Croatian Ivo Karlovic while Brazil's Tomaz Bellucci beat fellow qualifier Marco Chiudinelli 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.