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ITF: Nadal can’t blame Davis Cup for busy calendar

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CORDOBA, SPAIN (AP) - Rafael Nadal shouldn't blame the Davis Cup for the crowded tennis schedule after playing the event infrequently in recent years, the head of the International Tennis Federation said Saturday.

Nadal was again critical of the busy schedule Friday after winning the first match in Spain's 2-0 Davis Cup semifinal lead over France. It came four days after he lost the U.S. Open final in New York to Novak Djokovic. Asked if players could strike over the convoluted calendar, Nadal did not rule out "strong action."

But ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said Nadal's argument was "inconsistent."

"Nadal has all the right to feel tired after playing 70 matches this year, but that's not the fault of the Davis Cup, which he has played only three times in the past two years," Ricci Bitti said at Cordoba's bullring.

Nadal helped Spain lift the Davis Cup trophy in 2009.

"Nadal says we don't listen to the players but the date of the Davis Cup was changed against the wishes of the ITF and its president," Ricci Bitti said. "We still feel the dates, especially those in September, are not right."

Nadal was among a group of top players _ including Roger Federer _ which lobbied the ITF to move Davis Cup dates to the week after Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2009.

French player Michael Llodra backed Nadal's stance after pairing with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to trim the deficit to 2-1 against Spain. Llodra also said the calendar should be reviewed.

"It makes us have to change and adapt to a new surface very quickly," Llodra said. "I know Rafa loves playing here and representing his country, but the ITF should probably think about it and change some things."

Nadal said organizers only cared about money and not the players' health in remarks Friday. Talk has emerged about making the Davis Cup a biannual tournament, but Ricci Bitti said was "nonnegotiable."

"Playing Davis Cup can't just be about money, you also have to give something back to the sport," Ricci Bitti said.

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