- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 11, 2011

SHANGHAI (AP) - Just weeks after raising the possibility of a strike in protest of the crowded tennis calendar, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal acknowledged Tuesday that bringing the top players together to formulate a plan might be difficult.

Last month, Murray said a meeting might take place during this week’s Shanghai Masters, but the withdrawals of Roger Federer and top-ranked Novak Djokovic from the tournament made that unlikely.

Murray said Tuesday that co-ordinating players’ schedules wasn’t easy.

“Whether it happens or not, it’s quite a tough thing to do because there’s a lot of players to coordinate and sometimes guys don’t go to the same tournaments,” Murray said. “Tennis players aren’t always the easiest people to get hold of when they’re not at tournaments.”

Second-ranked Nadal said the timing wasn’t right to have a discussion about a possible next step.

“There is something there, but is not the right moment to talk about it,” he said Tuesday. “Always is better talk about the things when you know exactly what’s going to happen and when you know exactly what we are going to do.”

Murray, Nadal and Andy Roddick have been among the most vocal in urging changes to the packed tennis calendar and the number of events the top players are required to enter each year.

Last November, the ATP decided to extend the tennis offseason from five to seven weeks in response to years of complaints from players about the length of the season and the toll it takes on their bodies.

But other issues came to a head during the rain-soaked U.S. Open, when Nadal, Murray and Roddick voiced concerns about the conditions of the courts and the schedule that forced Nadal to play three matches in three days.

Since then, Roddick has pushed for the creation of a players’ union similar to those in other major pro sports that could act on players’ behalf in negotiations with ATP officials.

After his second-round win on Tuesday, Roddick said that Federer and Djokovic need to be involved in any discussion that takes place, but he also expected it would happen before year’s end.

“You know, at this point I think the main thing is a voice. Whether one’s playing the schedule, we should have something to say about it. At a certain point, how long is too long of not getting that point across?” he said. “It needs to be more than conversation and more than talk. We’ll see if the time is now.”

Murray was quoted by the BBC last month saying that a strike was a “possibility,” but he appeared to be in more reconciliatory mood on Tuesday when he said that neither he nor any of the players he had spoken to wanted that outcome.

“It’s so far away from being at that level. The players haven’t even sat down and spoke,” he said.

Murray also stressed that the players only wanted a minimal change to the calendar.

“It’s just a matter of one or two less mandatory events during the year. That’s it,” Murray said. “Doesn’t really need to be a huge change in the calendar or huge change within tennis or the rankings or anything like that.

“It’s just very small things that seem so difficult to get done. I think sometimes the players find it difficult to understand why that is.”

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