The news from Miami this week that Rafael Nadal has stepped down from his role as vice-president of the ATP Player Council was a surprise to some but in truth, it had been coming. The Spaniard was upset about a number of issues, loosely labelled as feeling a lack of support from his fellow members.
The presence of Nadal – alongside Roger Federer – on the council has been a boon for the men’s game for some time but the two men disagree on some of the things that need doing and just as crucially, how to get them done. Nadal’s reported desire for Richard Krajicek to get the job as CEO of the ATP didn’t get the Dutchman anywhere once Federer had pointed out his lack of business experience and the Spaniard’s desire for a two-year ranking system is not supported by players outside the top 10, for obvious reasons.
But Nadal had five years on the board and has done his bit; now it’s time for someone else to take the role and from what I can see, Andy Murray is the only obvious candidate. The Briton is well entrenched in the world’s top four and more importantly, at the US Open last September, he emerged as an unlikely firebrand as the players took their concerns to organisers.
The Scot is among those who believe that the players’ prize money at grand slam events – as a share of total revenue – is too low and has been involved in the talks to get things done. New CEO Brad Drewett is understood to be keen to make progress on this issue and with Djokovic having also stepped down from the council last year, the board needs someone of Murray’s stature within the game. With the exception of Andy Roddick, who is approaching the end of his career, is there really anyone else with the gravitas to get things done?
Now having said that Roddick is approaching the end of his career, there is clearly life in the old dog yet. Most people took his claims that he was hitting the ball better than ages as sheer bravado in Miami but then he went and turned reason on its head with victory over Federer in the fourth round. It was as impressive as it was surprising but the proof will be in how long he can sustain it.
Throughout their careers, the Williams sisters have managed to produce outstanding performances after long breaks but the return of Venus, seven months after revealing that she is suffering from Sjogren’s Disease, is truly remarkable. Doctors at the time said that the constant fatigue and joint aches would make it difficult for Venus to train, let alone compete, but here she is, smashing her way through the Miami draw. Brilliant. A clash with world No 1 Victoria Azarenka is potentially just one win away and it would be just like Venus if it was her who finally ended the Belarussian’s unbeaten start to the year.
And just a word about Kim Clijsters, who took to Twitter to reassure everyone that she is not quitting yet, at least not until after the Olympics. Good. The Belgian has another grand slam in her if she stays fit and will be going all out for gold at Wimbledon in August.