Move Open back, says Federer
By Robert Grant
January 10, 2007
WORLD No.1 Roger Federer has bought into the annual debate about the scheduling of the Australian Open, saying he would prefer it took place in March.
Federer agreed today with a number of the game's elite who believe the Open, which starts on Monday, should be pushed back in the calendar.
This would give touring pros a proper break instead of forcing them into a frantic never-ending chase after ATP points and leaving many unrefreshed for the first grand slam of the new season.
Federer today shook some rust from his game to squeeze past Czech Radek Stepanek at the Kooyong Classic 7-6 6-7 7-6 before launching into a push for an ATP calendar overhaul.
"Honestly, I don't want to start anything here, but it would be nice if the Australian Open would be a bit later ... we would have a bit more time in the off season," Federer said.
"But because the first grand slam is just around the corner, basically that's why we don't have any rest.
"If it would be in March, people could take a rest all January and February as well."
But he admitted the perennial problem would probably never be solved to everybody's satisfaction.
"You are going to have to clean up the entire schedule to make everybody happy and then people will still be not happy, so it will never really work out," he said.
Federer said that while the players' association, the ATP, was agitating for an earlier end to the season, he believed that moving the Australian Open back was a better idea.
"Then you would have more room for a break and everything, play more exhibitions if you want and stuff," he said.
"Look, I'm not complaining, I'm playing all the four slams.
"I usually play as many tournaments as I can so I like it when the season is kind of long and it gives me a choice.
"But that seems to change as well, with the Masters Series coming along, wanting me to play all of them and getting punished when you don't play."
Federer said the closeness of his match today was a result of his decision to bypass the Qatar Open, which he has won the past two years.
"Obviously I'm trying to make my way into the new year and everything. I think, win or lose, it wouldn't have changed very much," he said.
"I was so close to losing, but it still feels better to come off as a winner."
Federer said today's clash served as a good basis for data collection ahead of the Australian Open.
"Playing such a long match gives me a lot of information for what I could do better, what's already in place.
"Concentration is the biggest factor, it's kind of tough to get into things entirely.
"Match by match it's going to get better...but I just tried to keep it together," he said.
Earlier former US Open champion Andy Roddick breezed past German Tommy Haas 6-2 6-3 but woke up to the news that his new coach, Jimmy Connors, might not be joining him in Melbourne.
Connors' mother Gloria died overnight in Illinois at the age of 82.
Meanwhile, Russian Marat Safin warmed up with a win over Argentinian David Nalbandian, seizing the match 5-7 6-1 6-2.