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ATP Chief ‘Optimistic’ Board Will Favor Shorter Tennis Season

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Adam Helfant, executive chairman and president of the men’s tennis tour, is “optimistic” the ATP board will vote in favor of plans to shorten the season.

Heeding pleas from players for a longer offseason so they can get more rest, the ATP World Tour board will meet in London over three days starting Nov. 20 to vote on plans to trim its tennis calendar starting in 2012 by as much as three weeks.

“I do believe the board will take action on this,” Helfant said in an interview at the draw ceremony for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals that start in London on Nov. 21.

Cutting the week in between the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris - which this year ended on Nov. 14 - and the start of the ATP Finals is “one of the options” being looked at, said Helfant, a former Nike Inc. vice president who joined the tour at the beginning of 2009.

Should the season be shortened by two weeks or more, then the Davis Cup finals may “move up,” Helfant said. The finals of the elite men’s team competition, which is run by the International Tennis Federation, will be held Dec. 3 through 5, when Serbia plays France in Belgrade.

Players including top-ranked Rafael Nadal of Spain have been calling for a shorter season for years to give their bodies time to recuperate and prevent injuries. The men’s tennis tour consists of 62 events in 32 countries and runs from January until the end of November.

Some tournaments “have to be a little bit flexible,” Roger Federer told a news conference in Paris last week when asked about the plans. Federer is a member of the ATP’s Players’ Council alongside Nadal.

“I just think it’s time that we shifted back a bit and we get a proper offseason,” Federer, the winner of a men’s record 16 majors, said. “Because four weeks is just not an offseason, really. Six weeks is much better. Already at least you can take two weeks off, practice for four weeks, which is a lot for us in our world. That’s why we’re talking about it. I hope tournaments understand it’s in their best interest as well.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Danielle Rossingh at the London sports desk at drossingh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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