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Last Updated: Friday, 3 February 2006, 11:05 GMT
ATP chief rejects schedule worry
By Caroline Cheese

Etienne de Villiers
De Villiers took on an increased role at the ATP from last month
Etienne de Villiers - the new head of men's tennis - denies a spate of player withdrawals is down to the schedule but has committed to shortening the season.

The ATP chairman said: "What happened at the Paris and Madrid Masters you might call a 'perfect storm'.

"Safin had knee surgery, Hewitt's wife was having a baby, Federer injured his ankle in training and Agassi tripped over playing racquetball.

"It is a serious and hugely complex issue but there isn't a silver bullet."

De Villiers believes the stress placed on players by new technology and the increased physicality of the game may be causing more injuries.

Tennis players don't benefit from taking steroids as athletes do in other sports
Etienne de Villiers,
ATP executive chairman/president

"We will shorten the season and will give players at least eight weeks to recover both mentally and physically but it's not the only solution," he told BBC Sport.

"We need to understand the cause of the injuries."

The South African, a former senior executive at Walt Disney, also defended the ATP's drug-testing policy and questioned the extent of the problem in tennis.

"Do we think it's a systematic problem?" said De Villiers.

"Absolutely not. Incidents are very isolated and tennis players don't benefit from taking steroids as athletes do in other sports, so the temptation to take them is much lower."

De Villiers added that video technology, such as Hawk-Eye, will be introduced "very soon, probably before Wimbledon".


SEE ALSO
Q&A: Etienne de Villiers
03 Feb 06 |  Tennis


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