LONDON • As Rafael Nadal was described as wavering over defending his US Open title or preparing for a 13th French Open success, Britain's Andy Murray revealed his fears for the safety of top players as tennis emerges from its five-month coronavirus lockdown.
The sport has been on ice since mid-March and will not return until early August. The US Open will run from Aug 31 to Sept 13 on the hard courts of New York, with the rescheduled French Open on clay taking place just a fortnight after.
"I have spoken to Rafa and he is doubting which tournaments to play," the 34-year-old Nadal's uncle - and former long-time coach - Toni told ESPN Deportes.
"The schedule is unrealistic, especially for veteran players, who cannot compete for so many weeks in a row. I think it is a bit ugly what the ATP has done. This decision is totally against players like Rafa and Novak Djokovic."
The ATP Tour is set restart on Aug 14 with the Citi Open, followed by the Cincinnati Masters at Flushing Meadows before the US Open.
The men's clay-court swing will start on Sept 8 in Kitzbuhel, followed by Masters tournaments in Madrid and Rome on Sept 13 and Sept 20.
Murray, 33, expressed his fears over player safety in quickly switching from surface to surface. He suggested that a rankings rethink might be a solution.
"It's not safe for players to go from the semis or final in New York, quarters even, and then you're playing on the Tuesday in Madrid at altitude on the clay court, when players haven't competed for a very long time."
"None of the top players have competed a week before a Slam," added Murray, saying he will skip Cincinnati but may play the Citi Open in Washington.
"The rankings, if you can keep the points as they are, could get a bit skewed.
"It might be worth potentially looking at a two-year ranking for the time being, so that the guys who did well last year and are not able to defend their points properly aren't punished.
"There are big tournaments every single week and it's going to be very difficult for players that are winning consistently to commit to that many events."
Murray, returning from injury, went down to a 1-6, 6-3, 10-8 loss to Dan Evans in the semi-finals of the Battle of the Brits exhibition tournament in Roehampton on Saturday before pulling out of his last match yesterday.
The three-time Major champion was due to face Cam Norrie in a third-place play-off. But, after playing four matches in five days in his first tournament since November, he decided not to push his body further.
"My game is there, I just need more time to practise and prepare and I'll get there," said the former world No. 1.
"It was a big step up this week from what I've been doing, and I coped with it physically relatively well."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS