• ATP Tour

Nadal apologises for taking Federer complaint public

ESPN staff
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Rafael Nadal could meet Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open © Getty Images
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Rafael Nadal has admitted he was wrong to voice his criticisms of Roger Federer in public after saying the Swiss star needs to be more active in his support of fellow ATP Tour pros.

Rumours of a potential strike simmered beneath the surface during the 2011 season, which saw Novak Djokovic and Nadal - in particular - struggle physically in the latter months. A significant group of the players on Tour would favour a lighter schedule, and it was Andy Murray who revealed strike action had been contemplated to bring matters to a head.

Federer is president of the ATP Player Council, and he has been accused of not leading the way for change. As a 16-time grand slam winner, his reputation carries most clout, and his acceptance of the current situation sparked an angry response from Nadal over the weekend.

"I say a lot of good things about tennis, because thanks to this sport I have had experiences in my life I could never have dreamed of, but to finish your career with pain in all areas of your body is not positive," Nadal said.

"He (Federer) finishes his career as fresh as a daisy because he is physically privileged, but neither Murray nor [Novak] Djokovic and I are fresh as a daisy."

However, after winning his first-round match against Alex Kuznetsov at the Australian Open, Nadal confessed he should never have taken his grievances with Federer into the public spotlight.

"Probably I am wrong telling that to [the media], especially because these things can stay, must stay in the locker room," Nadal said.

"I always had a fantastic relationship with Roger. I still have a fantastic relationship with Roger. Just I said we can have different views about how the Tour needs to work. That's all."

The players are expected to meet at the Indian Wells Masters tournament in March in order to assess the need for action against the ATP Tour's exhausting calendar. Nikolay Davydenko agrees with Nadal that Federer needs to do more, but the Swiss has attempted to play down the public row.

"[Strike] is such a dangerous word to use," Federer said. "It's not good for anyone really. We've seen it in other sports happening in the States. That's why I'm always very careful about it.

"If there's no avoiding it, I'll support the rest of the players. But I just think we have to think it through how we do it, if we do it, can we do it, whatever it is, instead of just going out and screaming about it."

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