ATP World Tour Will Extend Men’s Tennis Offseason to Seven Weeks

The men’s ATP World Tour will extend the offseason to seven weeks from the end of 2012 so that tennis players will have more time to rest and recuperate.

“The health and wellbeing of our players is a tour-wide issue and preserving and extending the playing careers of our top players is critical for the long-term good of the game,” Adam Helfant, executive chairman and president of the ATP World Tour, said in a news conference today at the season-ending championships in London. Currently there’s a five-week break.

“Our 2012 and 2013 calendars each provide for the seven-week offseason, meaning that our players will have an additional two weeks to spend away from the rigors of life on tour before taking up the cause again in the following year,” said Helfant, a former Nike Inc. vice president who joined the tour at the beginning of 2009.

The change to the calendar was achieved by removing the free week between the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris and the year-end ATP World Tour Finals in London. The ATP also rescheduled four late-season events in Montpellier, France, Bucharest, St. Petersburg and Vienna to earlier in the year. That means the players will have the additional weeks off without the elimination of any ATP tournaments, Helfant said.

Since joining the men’s tennis tour, Helfant has made the shortening of the season a key focus of his leadership.

Players including Britain’s Andy Murray, top-ranked Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have all been critical of the duration of the season. The men’s 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,” Federer told a news conference in Paris last week when asked about the plans. Federer is a member of the ATP Players’ Council alongside Nadal.

“I just think it’s time that we shifted back a bit and we get a proper offseason,” said Federer, the winner of a men’s record 16 majors. “I hope tournaments understand it’s in their best interest as well.”

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