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Tennis: Nadal can't blame Davis Cup for busy calendar

Rafael Nadal shouldn't blame the Davis Cup for tennis' crowded schedule after playing the competition so little in recent years, the head of the International Tennis Federation said on Saturday

AP, Saturday 17 Sep 2011
Rafael Nadal
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Nadal was again critical of the busy schedule Friday after winning the first point in Spain's 2-1 Davis Cup semifinal lead over France, which 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 said you only had to point to Nadal's recent Davis Cup playing activity to see that the second-ranked Spaniard'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 said at Cordoba's bullring.

Since helping Spain lift the 2009 trophy, Nadal has played all three games in 2011, with two of those live rubbers.

"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 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 back within the week after Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, which started in 2009.

French player Michael Llodra backed Nadal's stance after helping France cut Spain's advantage Saturday with a doubles victory alongside Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who also called on the calendar to 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 said this was "nonnegotiable." "Playing Davis Cup can't just be about money, you also have to give something back to the sport," Ricci said.

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