• Nine-month season urged as players crumble

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    BEIJING: Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska has called for the tennis season to be slashed to nine months as tired and injured players drop like flies during the end-of-year swing.

    Among the mounting casualty list, Garbine Muguruza was unable to finish the Wuhan Open final last week and Serena Williams is skipping the end of the season for extra rest.

    And at the ongoing China Open, Maria Sharapova is out with injury and top seed Simona Halep retired in the first round with an Achilles problem.

    Eugenie Bouchard was forced out of her match with the lingering effects of concussion, and Petra Kvitova and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also lost in the first round after feeling faint.

    Radwanska, the world number eight, said players were unanimous in wanting a shorter season and suggested a September cut-off.

    “I think everybody wants that,” she said in Beijing, when asked if she would like a shortened schedule — adding that she would be willing to forfeit the prize money from playing extra events.

    “Yeah. I think nine months’ season will be good. I think a lot of people agree with me.”

    The final stanza of the tennis season is busy with 15 tournaments on the full women’s tour and 14 on the men’s after the start of the US Open in late August. Both tours end in November.

    Most events are not mandatory but players are scrambling to qualify for the prestigious and lucrative season finales, which for the women is wide open this year, especially as the injury toll rises.

    Fourth seed Radwanska was speaking late on Monday after struggling past Mona Barthel in three sets. Another senior player, Caroline Wozniacki, said many minds were elsewhere at this time of the year.

    “For sure—all of us are,” she said, when asked if she was now thinking about the end-of-year break. “We can’t wait to just get a few weeks off and recharge the batteries.”

    AFP

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