Why Does The ATP And WTA Shorten The Season When All These Players Still Want To Play?
by Sean Randall | December 5th, 2014, 2:49 pm

Here’s my annual rant of players who bitch and moan that the tennis season is too long, too arduous and too taxing on the body only to KEEP PLAYING ONCE THE SEASON IS OVER!!!

I won’t name names, but you know who they are. And admittedly some don’t complain. But there are those who are continuing to play long after the season is over, many of whom have been and still are playing in Asia in one of two if not both lucrative exo leagues that have sprung up thanks to the shorter seasons:

Roger Federer
Maria Sharapova
Caroline Wozniacki
JW Tsonga
Gael Monfils
Jelena Jankovic
Andy Murray
Serena Williams
Kirsten Flipkens
Marcos Baghdatis
Lleyton Hewitt
Ana Ivanovic

And there are more. Point is, the off season is supposed to mean resting, not flying – for many – halfway around the world to play exo matches in India or some other country in Asia. So these players lose any right to complain.

I also understand that the money must be great for a guy like Federer who likely will pocket a few million bucks for this weekend, right? But look how good Roger did this season after he passed on the lucrative exo circuit last winter compared to Rafael Nadal’s 2014 after going on that South American junket last fall. Coincidence?

Just hope it’s all worth it in the end.

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38 Comments for Why Does The ATP And WTA Shorten The Season When All These Players Still Want To Play?

Ben Pronin Says:

Kinda like NBA players participating in FIBA and risking snapping their legs. They’re young and they play a freaking sport for a living. There’s no stopping them. The complaints about a long season come from the requirements. It’s the rules they don’t like.

elina Says:

I don’t think anyone on that list has complained about the length of the season so I don’t see the contradiction.

Even if there was, the effort is far from tour level and most just play a single set per team match and, for example, Roger will only be playing 2-3 single sets the whole IPTL event. Same for Murray and Djokovic.

Like all off-season exhos, I doubt there will be any effect on their results in 2015.

Don’t see a problem TBH.

the DA Says:

The players love this new format, the fans love it and it’s bringing tennis to new markets. Most fans in Manilla had never seen any of their idols or a even professional tennis match. Same in Singapore and likely the same in New Delhi.

Sharapova was only there for 2 days, Andy for 3, Roger just 2 days and Serena/Nole for 4. I see more of a potential problem for Monfils, Tsonga & Berdy who committed for all 12 days. But we’ll see.

I don’t see a problem with the IPTL, actually I think it’s great. Serena didn’t want to leave and tried to extend her stay for the Delhi leg but was prevented due to visa issues. Maria & Andy said they’ll commit to more appearances next year. Judging from these player responses (wait for Roger’s & Nole’s this week) this league is a winner and is destined to grow.

Thangs Says:

Whoeover has great season ends up playing exhos or travelling lot in Dec….

2011 – Nole was scheduled to play some exhos i think..not sure.
2010 – Nadal was all over asia for various reasons.

jane Says:

Thangs, in 2011 after the season Nole had a minor surgery on his neck so I don’t think was scheduled to play exhos. He had a strong season this year though and is playing the ITPL, and in 2013 Nole was very close to taking YE#1 versus Nadal, and the two of them went to those glaciers at the end of the season, so your theory does seem to make some sense.

Wog Boy Says:

@the DA,

Agree, spot on, it is lot of fun for the players, relaxing atmosphere, good for promoting tennis in the parts of the world with more than one billion people who wouldn’t have a chance to see the best of the best in tennis if it wasn’t for ITPL. Pity I can’t see any of the matches, they don’t show them where I live:(

Wog Boy Says:

It doesn’t really look like a hard work..but where is Grisha, not in Manila with Masha?


Rod Says:

Ok playing tennis for fun is not like playing for the wta or atp. Please be quiet and stop making up news.

kamret Says:

Don’t exaggerate. The IPTL matches are only 1 set long (actually even shorter) and are often over in 30 minutes. The players are having fun hanging out together and playing in teams, plus they are not feeling the same kind of pressure they do on the ATP tour.

the DA Says:

@Wog Boy – They’re not showing it here either but I’ve been able to follow the matches on livestreams. Oddly enough, an Italian sports channel – SuperTennis – has covered it all. Someone has been kind enough to do highlights and uploads the matches to YouTube on a daily basis.

Try it out. You’ll see some really good points but also lots of smiles and laughs – good overall camaraderie. I find it quite refreshing and a nice contrast from 10 months of intense competing.

Wog Boy Says:

@the DA, thanks, I checked YouTube and saw Murray/Kyrgios, some really good points and I loved the other members of the team cheering players from the bench like it is basketball match:)

Giles Says:

The IPTL seems to be a whole load of fun but I’ll be damned if I can understand the format or the scoring. Sounds like its on for 2015 as well.

jatin Says:

Its Novak vs roger today in ITPL
Should be a fun watch :)

Michael Says:

For me, formats like ITPL are pure waste of time serving little purpose except to cash in on the charisma of players and laugh all the way to Bank. There is already a hue and cry by players that the Tennis calendar is too long and needs to be shortened and on this rationale, how this format is justified at the end of the year and how come leading Players like Novak, Rafa (his injury prevented his entry) and Roger who took the place of Rafa stake their career to participate in this event ? All in the name of making quick bucks and ofcourse they are entitled to what they earn but their participation betrays their earlier stand. Tennis is one of the better organized Sport in business and concepts like ITPL have invaded Tennis inspired from other Sports and they may not be needed at all. Already, ITPL is finding it difficult to sustain public interest and this is manifested by sparse crowds at the venues. So, the time has come to take a relook at this format and if possible, rescind it in the best interests of the sport.

Sirius Says:

“their participation betrays their earlier stand”

Who’s “they”? Not including federer, right? Because I can’t remember Federer complaining about the season being too long

Tennis Island Says:

Because they want to keep them healthy. Exhibition leagues are not demanding for the body as also they provide more money so players will always want to play there

Michael Says:

Well to keep them healthy they need a customary break at the end of the Season and cannot over tax their body in the name of enjoying fun. I think they can best use the practice sessions to hone their game as well as do a little bit of exercises to keep their body motivated and strong in shape for future battles. Exhibition leagues are also demanding in the sense that players need to travel long distance and jet lags may come to haunt them. The primary motivation for players participation in such league encounters is money. Well, these players considering the hard way they fought to the top overcoming stiff competition have all the right to make hay while the sun shines. But the nagging question is can they over expose their body and their career to mint some quick bucks ?

Wog Boy Says:

I think you are a bit too harsh. At the end of the the day, they are just young people who need a bit of fan and time to relax, and that is exactly what they are doing ..and they are even paid to do that. From what I have seen on YouTube it is great fan and Singapore was sell out, India full house too. I watched Tsonga/Nestor against Nole/Ziki today, thoroughly enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, but the way you put the things, it looks like they don’t have right to have fun and to be paid to do that, don’t forget, somebody is making alot of money right now thanks to thrm playing it. Even in the Army (I was corporal in army) after Prussian drill that our soldiers had to go through during a week, we gave time soldiers to let loose and enjoy saturday night out, in the town, so give them a brake and check couple of matches on YouTube, you’ll have fan.

elina Says:

Roger is getting $4M for two “reduced format” singles matches and 3-4 doubles matches over two days admittedly not including travel and associated career threatening jetlag. This is $1M moer than he’d receive for winning the US Open having to play seven best of five matches over two weeks.

For that rate on return, I’d say IPTL is the professional tour and the ATP Tour is the “exhibition”.

Besides, please quote (not misquote) one player in IPTL that has complained about the need for a longer off season.

Much ado about nothing.

elina Says:

Sorry, should have said two “reduced format” singles SETS and 3-4 doubles SETS, not (even) matches, lol!

He’s barely playing the equivalent of a single 5-set match spread over two days for $4M and you think he should turn it down?

sienna Says:

exhibition matches and charity work jas cost federer plenty during his long career. the mono clearly gained footh in his body after exhausting his fatique body at the end of 2007. without the mono he clearly would have won Au open and wimbly 2008.
also his travelling to africa after winning 2010 au open gave him pneumonia thereforhindering his fysiek during 2010 midseason which holds 2 slams. so that wade another 2010 wimbly gone.

Roger is stupid to even concidering playing those career threathening events that clearly are not meant to prepaire for next season. or is it scheduled in training sessies?

nomoney in the world can bring those 3 slams back where he would hve been clear favorite to win when his body was fit.

Giles Says:


the DA Says:

@Michael -Not so, Manila was sold out and there were 16,000 spectators for tonight’s match.

jane Says:

true da, it’s also been all over twitter how crowded the venues have been. it’s too bad it’s been largely ignored at this site. i posted a link last week and a few of us asked the week before that if we’d have a thread on this event. i mean, since there is no other tennis news, we might as well follow this, right? andy, fed, wawrinka, nole, tsonga, all these guys were playing, not to mention a number of past players. it’s fun for the sport and by the sounds of it, some took the matches very seriously.

elina Says:

Very entertaining! Fed’s single set win over Novak was top drawer in terms of effort and excitement. No different than “tour” level. Same for the doubles set they played against each other.

This league is a winner for fans, players and owners alike!

Giles Says:

Er, was Wawa playing?

jane Says:

giles, oops no; i think he was supposed to play initially when talks started early last year about the league, but i guess he didn’t get drafted to any of the teams after all. thanks for the correction.

Michael Says:

Wog Boy @ 6.26 am,

Whatever I said was with good intent in the best interest of the top players who I perceive are over exposing themselves and risking their future by participating in such glorified exhibitions. I have already commented numerous times that whatever the Tennis players earn through their Sport, they are truly entitled to it and deserve every penny of what they earn. There cannot be two opinion about it.

Michael Says:

DA @ 2.29 PM,

But there are unconfirmed news reports that the exhibitions were not such a big draw as they were touted to be. May be some venues would have bucked this trend.

Michael Says:

Elina @ 8.39 am,

Even Novak has complained about the season being too long and taxing players in many of his interviews.

the DA Says:

@Giles – No Wawa wasn’t ‘bought’ when the players were initially up for sale to the team owners. No team wanted him *chuckle*

@Michael – The Manila legs were sold out and Maria and Andy were mobbed by screaming fans. It’s all on video. Singapore looked a little less sold out. The stadium in Delhi seats 25,000 so even with 16,000 seats filed it might look undersold. But 16,000 is bigger than Rod Laver Arena, Roland Garros, etc. Bhupati said that 4 more countries are trying to get in on the action for next year but he’ll only accept 2 to ensure sustainable growth. IPTL will be around for a while.

Lastly, several of the players – including Serena – have said that this event is the perfect way to begin their training for the next season. So there is that to consider.

Michael Says:


If the players feel comfortable, then it is their choice. But they must never again complain about the season being too long or demand the ATP to cut tournaments.

the DA Says:

“they must never again complain about the season being too long ”

I’ll pass that along to the ATP and they can send it to the players ;)

elina Says:

I don’t ever recall Novak saying the season is too long in general. Nobody has demanded that the ATP cut tournaments. Player statements are too easily taken out of context and/or misquoted.

Besides, if the IPTL pays more money and draws the best players, then it seems to me that the ATP and ITF owners no longer have a monopoly (which is a good thing) and conceivably might even become some of the tournaments that players might choose to drop from their calendar in favour of the more lucrative opportunities like IPTL.

Ben Pronin Says:

Does anyone have a link for the scores? The IPTL site doesn’t tell me anything useful.

elina Says:

Ben Pronin, select the Results page on the IPTL site…


By using the arrows in the top calendar box, you can scroll through the match results showing who played each match. There are no match statistics available though and I doubt they exist online elsewhere.

Okiegal Says:

These exhibition matches could in no way compare to playing for a title. You can tell by the vids that they’re having a good time. The naysayers need to chill out, they will have a break soon. I’m just jealous that it’s not happening close to where I live. I think it would be a blast and also stress free for the fans!!

elina Says:

A tweet from Soderling…

Robin Söderling ‏@RSoderling 8m 8 minutes ago
Ppl compl on players wanting shorter season and still playing exhos, dont knw t difference physically and mentally compared to tour matches

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