Roger Federer’s reticence to join other players in voicing complaints about issues affecting the men’s game came under fire again at the Australian Open on Monday.
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Former No. 3-ranked Nikolay Davydenko said he didn’t understand why the 16-time Grand Slam champion wasn’t supporting the push to address player grievances, including the schedule and the distribution of prize money.
Davydenko’s remarks came a day after Rafael Nadal criticized his Swiss rival for sitting back while others speak out and ”burn themselves.”
Nadal said Monday he regretted airing his disagreement with Federer in public – although he didn’t back down on the views he expressed.
”Probably I am wrong telling that to you, especially because these things can stay, must stay in the locker room,” Nadal said after his first-round win.
”I always had fantastic relationship with Roger. I still have fantastic relationship with Roger. Just I said we can have different views about how the tour needs to work. That’s all.”
Nadal spoke out following a players’ meeting in Melbourne on Saturday, when rumors of a possible strike emerged for the second time in six months.
Davydenko said that while Nadal and No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic had been leading the push for changes, Federer had been reluctant to get involved.
”I don’t know why Roger is not supporting the players,” Davydenko said. ”Because he don’t want … any problems. He’s nice guy. He’s winning Grand Slams. He’s from Switzerland. He’s perfect.
”He don’t want to do anything, he just try to be an outsider from this one.”
According to Davydenko, a strike is still a distant prospect, but he said the players will meet again at the Indian Wells Masters tournament in March.
”The ATP should try to do something between now and Indian Wells,” he said. ”For sure, all the top 100 players will go there and just see what will be changed.”
The Russian said he did not support the idea of a shorter season, a change that is backed by Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray, but he agrees that prize money has not increased proportionately in line with growing profits.
Prize money also is an issue at the Indian Wells tournament, where Davydenko said those players who lose in the first round can sometimes take a loss after paying tax and travel costs to compete.
Nadal reacted strongly in his pre-tournament news conference Sunday when it was suggested that Federer disliked it when players complained openly about problems on the tour because it tarnished the image of tennis.
”No, I totally disagree,” he said in comments translated from Spanish. ”For him it’s good to say nothing. Everything positive. ‘It’s all well and good for me, I look like a gentleman,’ and the rest can burn themselves.
”Everyone is entitled to have their own opinions.”