Put Australian Open back, urges Djokovic
Defending champion Novak Djokovic joined the chorus of players calling for the Australian Open to be pushed back a fortnight after crashing to a shock semi-final loss to Jarkko Nieminen at the Sydney International on Friday.
Backing up Roger Federer's plea earlier this week to delay the start of the season's first grand slam, Djokovic said players needed more time to prepare for a hot Australian summer campaign.
"I think players need more attention because health is coming in the matter of question, really," Djokovic said after succumbing 6-4 7-6 (7-3) to Nieminen.
"You have a lot of pull-outs (in Melbourne each year) and you don't want to see that as a sponsor of the tournament or as a fan, that some of the top players in the top 10 are not coming to your events.
"Tennis is by far the longest season in sport and I think we should do something about it in the future.
"But, still, it's not only about the players. It's about the tournaments.
"It's about a lot of things. Hopefully we can make an agreement."
The world No.3 acknowledged a complete overhaul of the season schedule was not realistic.
"I don't think you can change everything from the start, from the bottom, because it takes a lot of energy and work," Djokovic said.
"As I said, it's not only about the players - tournaments - there is a lot of tradition and history everywhere around the world.
"The thing is that if you want to see the top players performing on the high level on every tournament, then we have to make an adjustable schedule."
Djokovic, who will open his title defence in Melbourne against a qualifier, said he was naturally disappointed to have lost to Nieminen but remained hopeful he could rediscover his form in time.
"It's always great to win a tournament prior to a grand slam, but he was better today," the top seed said.
"You have to give him credit for that. I just hope I will maintain my high level of performance.
"It wasn't really what I expected, especially today.
"My forehand didn't really work today and you could see in all the important moments he served to my forehand and I couldn't put the ball in.
"Just a bad day. But we keep on going."
Federer on Thursday questioned Djokovic's decision to switch racquet types from Wilson to Head in the off-season, but the Serb declined to enter debate over his reasoning.
"I don't want to talk about it now," said Djokovic, who framed several shots, especially volleys, against Nieminen in an error-ridden performance.
"I'm just trying to focus on Australian Open. I have to, well, accept the pressure of (being) the defending champion.
"This is a first-time experience. Try to accept it as a positive challenge."
So, my comment is, have the dates changed? Couldn't Nole have done what Andy did - play last week and have a rest this week? Or is he just having a bad couple of weeks, like another certain person?