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'Most players want date change'

January 17, 2009 18:22 IST

The majority of men's tennis players would support moving the Australian Open from January to February, world number one Rafael Nadal said on Saturday.

Nadal joins world number two Roger Federer and number three Novak Djokovic to have publicly stated in the past week they thought the tournament should be played at a later date.

"I think the feeling for everybody is the same," Nadal told reporters when asked if the possibility of moving the grand slam was supported by the majority of players.

"You start the season and after one week you are playing one of the most important tournaments of the season.

"If this can change, I think (it will) be perfect for us. If not, we continue (to) fight like this."

On Friday, Djokovic said the tournament's current timeslot was putting players' health at risk.

The Serb said the top players could burn out because of the long season and the Australian Open was suffering as a result.

British world number four Andy Murray also pitched in on Saturday, saying there were issues with the entire calendar, not just the Australian Open.

"There's a few things with the calendar that I think all the players would like to see happen," Murray said.

"Having the Aussie Open a couple of weeks later, having maybe one of the 500 events in Australia beforehand would make sense.

"Likewise with the grasscourt season. I think that would be good if that was a week or so longer.

"I think that one or two of the grasscourt events should be 500 tournaments because it makes it fairer for all the players, and also it makes it a better lead up to the slams."

The quartet are the latest in a long line of players calling for the Australian Open to be moved to a time when the weather is cooler, also giving them a longer break.

In the days before easy air travel, the top players in Europe and the United States preferred to stay at home rather than undertake the lengthy journey.

Even now, big names are often missing and the problem is made worse by Australia's scorching summer heat, where on-court temperatures often exceed 45 degrees Celsius.

Australian Open organisers have been reluctant to move the tournament but agreed in 2007 to shift the event back a week, only to change their mind and revert back to the original dates.

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