Skip to main content

Nadal and Federer at loggerheads over ATP World Finals

By Ravi Ubha, O2 Arena, London
November 5, 2013 -- Updated 0026 GMT (0826 HKT)
Since moving to London in 2009 more than one million people have attended the World Tour Finals, making it the world's biggest indoor tennis tournament. Former world No. 1 Roger Federer has won a record six World Tour Finals titles. Since moving to London in 2009 more than one million people have attended the World Tour Finals, making it the world's biggest indoor tennis tournament. Former world No. 1 Roger Federer has won a record six World Tour Finals titles.
HIDE CAPTION
The magnificent eight of men's tennis
The magnificent eight of men's tennis
The magnificent eight of men's tennis
The magnificent eight of men's tennis
The magnificent eight of men's tennis
The magnificent eight of men's tennis
The magnificent eight of men's tennis
The magnificent eight of men's tennis
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tennis legends disagree on nature of ATP World Tour Finals
  • Roger Federer argues the case for an indoor tournament while Nadal wants an outdoor event
  • 2013 action got underway on Monday as Stanislas Wawrinka beat Tomas Berdych
  • Juan Martin del Potro rallied to beat Richarg Gasquet in the evening session

(CNN) -- Tennis' year-end championships are supposed to showcase the top eight players in the world but Monday's opening matches in London took a backseat to another butting of heads between the two biggest names in the sport.

The difference of opinion came as Stanislas Wawrinka beat Tomas Berdych 6-3 6-7 6-3 in the afternoon and Juan Martin del Potro defeated Richard Gasquet 6-7 6-3 7-5 in the nightcap.

Having disagreed about a potential two-year ranking system and a previous selection of the ATP's executive chairman, the latest dispute between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal revolves around the surface for the World Tour Finals.

Switzerland's Federer says the tournament should remain on an indoor hard court but Spaniard Nadal wants it played outdoors and on surfaces including his preferred clay.

Read: Why the ATP Finals are the best tournament of the year

Boris Becker previews the ATP finals
Tennis greats gather for ATP reunion
Wawrinka ready for singles success
Roger Federer on mental toughness
A workout with David Ferrer
Martina Navratilova speaks out

Federer and his attacking game flourish under a roof -- he was unbeaten on indoor hard courts for two years from late 2010 -- and the 17-time grand slam winner boasts a career winning ratio of over 80% when playing inside.

Nadal's indoor strike rate, meanwhile, stands at about 66% -- and the world No. 1 has even less success on carpet. Clay is undeniably his most successful surface, with eight of his 13 grand slam triumphs coming at the French Open.

Nadal has never won the ATP World Tour Finals while Federer has on six occasions, with four of those coming indoors -- Houston in 2003 and 2004 proving the exception.

Dmitry Tursunov's tour of Kuala Lumpur

"I believe it should be indoor and hard," Federer, president of the ATP Players Council, told CNN on Sunday. "I know there's an argument to have it on clay, on grass, to have it outdoors -- and I did play outdoors in Houston.

"I just feel indoors doesn't have enough play. The indoor season is small. I believe indoors deserves a huge event, which this one is."

Playing the tournament in such fashion is a natural extension of the European "indoor swing" that begins in the middle of October.

Prior to London, Shanghai staged the year-end showpiece on an indoor carpet and then on an indoor hard court from 2005 to 2008.

Read: Can London keep men's tennis showpiece?

The last time it was contested on a surface other than hard or carpet was way back in 1974, on grass in Melbourne, and Nadal insists it is time for a change.

The ATP, he says, should be "fairer" with the players.

"I know it's not going to happen for my generation," Nadal, who stepped down as vice-president of the players council last year, told reporters on Monday.

"I'm talking for the future generations, something that will be a little bit fairer for the players. And I think for the fans it will be interesting to change the surface every year to the surfaces we qualified on for the (World Tour Finals).

"A good player has a chance to qualify for the (World Tour Finals) four or five times in his career, so if during this four years you have a different surface every year, a minimum one time he will have the chance to play on his favorite surface."

In an interview with CNN last week, Andre Silva, tournament director of the World Tour Finals and the ATP's chief player officer, said changing surfaces would make for an "interesting concept" but presented some problems.

"If it's something the players want and can be done logistically, it's something we can explore," said Silva.

"Even in the same place it would be pretty unique if you have all of a sudden one year on a hard court in London and the next year on a clay court.

"But it's hard for players to switch surfaces. I think guys who haven't played on clay for six months wouldn't be comfortable going back to a surface they haven't experienced in six months.

"I'm not opposed to it but I just think it becomes hard because of the logistics."

Read: Djokovic wins back Paris Masters

When asked about the issue by reporters, Novak Djokovic -- the third most successful active player in the men's game -- didn't "know what to say rightly."

The Serbian, however, said the championships shouldn't be held in the same city for more than three years.

London's stint will hit seven seasons come the end of its term in 2015 and Silva said there was "definitely" a possibility of a further extension. Federer told CNN he wasn't opposed to the idea.

On Tuesday, the Swiss enters the action when he meets Djokovic in the evening session with Nadal facing compatriot David Ferrer earlier in the day.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
At the 2009 Australian Open, French men's tennis was the talk of the town.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 14: Rafael Nadal of Spain sails a boat during day two of the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Tennis at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 14, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal may be most at home on a clay tennis court, but he has always found comfort on the sea.
March 21, 2014 -- Updated 1107 GMT (1907 HKT)
Tennis star Venus Williams reveals how she is beating the autoimmune disease that derailed her career.
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
After two decades dedicated to the game, Amelie Mauresmo wants a second life -- one away from tennis.
Rafael Nadal of Spain wipes his face after losing his men's final match against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland during day 14 of the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.
Almost five years to the day after reducing Roger Federer to tears at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal shed a few in his own loser's speech.
February 2, 2014 -- Updated 0248 GMT (1048 HKT)
Li Na outperformed Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open, but can she now surpass the Russian as the world's richest female athlete?
Roger Federer may have lost again to Rafael Nadal in the business end of a grand slam, but he can take some heart from yet another record says CNN's Will Edmonds.
January 21, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg, Novak Djokovic and Boris Becker -- today's tennis stars are teaming up with past legends of the game.
January 15, 2014 -- Updated 1859 GMT (0259 HKT)
Can't stand the heat of the first tennis grand slam of 2014? Then you clearly haven't been doing enough Bikram yoga.
After nearly a decade without any real change at the top of men's tennis, CNN's Will Edmonds looks at next generation of future stars.
January 9, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
Ana Ivanovic is still seeking to rediscover the form that took her to the top of the rankings -- but she has found a new lease of life.
January 6, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
As a teen sensation, Bernard Tomic had the tennis world at his feet -- but he's in danger of blowing it, says Australian great Pat Rafter.
ADVERTISEMENT