Novak Djokovic raises fears over new tennis schedule as he shares ‘complaints’
Novak Djokovic has shared his concern over the new 12-day Masters 1000 format. The world No 1 revealed that players had “complained” over certain issues in Madrid and Rome after the draws were extended to include 96 players. While Djokovic thought it was good news for the lower-ranked stars, he raised fears over the impact of spending two weeks at each tournament.
The tennis calendar saw a significant change this year when Madrid, Rome and Shanghai joined Indian Wells and Miami as Masters events staged over two weeks. Canada and Cincinnati will also do the same from 2025 and players have already been quick to voice their opinion on the new format – with Andy Murray not a fan while Aryna Sabalenka enjoyed the extra days between matches.
Although Djokovic missed the Madrid Open, he has already played his first two matches in Rome and gave his verdict on the new schedule – raising multiple concerns. “It depends really from which angle you’re looking at it,” the 22-time Grand Slam champion started, before explaining why the format wasn’t for him.
He continued: “I mean, I’m personally overall not a fan of that because I feel like we already have four Grand Slams a year that take two plus one week eventually if you go all the way with training. You spend 10 to 12 weeks only in Grand Slams. Now we’re going to have eight out of nine 1000 events be the same for next year: pretty much a two-week event.”
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While the Serb could see the fan appeal, he explained that the extended format was probably worse for recovery long-term despite allowing players to have a day of rest between matches. “If you’re a fan, of course an extra day of seeing the top players is great because you have more tennis in your city. I understand from that point of view,” he explained.
“You mentioned that it might be advantage because of the recovery. Yes, it could be the case in that given tournament. But then if you play all the big events on clay, for example, you played Indian Wells and Miami, that is also kind of a month duration for two events, then you play Monte Carlo, Barcelona, then back to back Rome and Madrid, if you play really well and go all the way, you’re maybe not the freshest for Roland Garros.”
The world No 1 explained that – on the clay – the French Open was his priority and he would still try to be ready despite the longer lead-up. “It really depends what you as a player value the most, what are your goals. For me it’s Roland Garros on clay, for sure, the most important event. I’m trying to do everything in terms of the schedule to set up so that I can play my best there,” he said.
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“It’s not a guarantee that I will, but I’ve had some experience over the years, and I know what I need to do with my team and my preparation in order to peak in Slams. As I mentioned, those are the most important tournaments for me.” Djokovic then said he didn’t want to get into the finances before discussing the technical side of things.
And he revealed that some players had complained about the organisation with the tournaments now looking after more stars. “I think the positive thing is you’re giving more players the opportunity to be in the draw, the main draw. Obviously they expanded the draw so you have more players,” he said.
“For organisation, I see it is a big challenge. It’s a big hustle to welcome so many additional players with their respective player staff members for transportation and everything. It just puts the organisation to even a bigger task.”
As a former president of the ATP Player Council and now the co-founder of the Professional Tennis Players Association, Djokovic revealed that there had already been some teething problems. “There’s been complaints about Madrid and Rome tournaments from players, with their accommodations, transportation,” he said.
“It’s challenging. Obviously the first year if you’re not expanding your facilities even more, you’ll have struggles. When you have two raining days, you’ll have problems with the practice courts. All these things maybe the regular tennis fans doesn’t know about or care about much. We as players, it’s very important for us to have those particular conditions that we’re able to practice and to prepare ourselves the best possible way.”
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