Viability of players meeting in question

SHANGHAI -- Andy Roddick understands that nobody is about to storm the offices of tennis leaders. Yet he believes the game's top players remain intent on taking their grievances to the ATP tour.

Roddick has been among the most vocal proponents for a collective response to complaints about the tour, notably the length of the season and the number of tournaments players must enter.

The issues came to a head during the rain-soaked U.S. Open when Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roddick voiced concerns about the conditions of the courts and the condensed schedule that forced Nadal to play three matches in three days.

After his second-round win on Tuesday, Roddick said that Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic need to be involved in any discussion that takes place, but he also expected it would happen before year's end.

"You know, at this point I think the main thing is a voice. Whether one's playing the schedule, we should have something to say about it. At a certain point, how long is too long of not getting that point across?" he said. "It needs to be more than conversation and more than talk. We'll see if the time is now."

Roddick has floated the idea of forming a players' union similar to those in other major pro sports. And Murray said last month that a strike couldn't be ruled out if something isn't done to address the packed tournament calendar.

Also Tuesday, Nadal and Murray cast doubt on whether players will be able to sit down with each another this week, or perhaps anytime soon.

Nadal said "it's not the right time to talk about that," and
Murray acknowledged the players would try to get together by the end of the year, adding that it's a meeting that may be difficult to organize.

"Whether it happens or not, it's quite a tough thing to do because there's a lot of players to coordinate and sometimes guys don't go to the same tournaments," Murray said. "Tennis players aren't always the easiest people to get hold of when they're not at tournaments."

Nadal said the timing wasn't right to have a discussion about a possible next step.

"Always is better to talk about the things when you know exactly what's going to happen and when you know exactly what we are going to do," Nadal said.

Roddick also cautioned that a slow approach is the proper way to go.

"Obviously, you need the top players involved," Roddick said.

Roddick added Djokovic and Federer are just "a phone call away."

"I don't think we're storming offices, but I think the sentiment is still there," Roddick said. "We need to be smart about it and take our time and make sure that it's well thought out and not be kind of reactionary. But, you know, there is a discussion going on."

"You have to have a voice in order to get it accomplished," he added. "Whatever our individual interests are and what we want changed, nothing is going to happen unless we're on the same page."

Djokovic pulled out of Shanghai to recover from a back injury. Federer is taking a six-week break to rest and recuperate after a busy summer. The Swiss star flew to Australia days after losing in the semifinals of the U.S. Open to play two Davis Cup singles matches and a doubles match.

Roddick said the withdrawals of Djokovic and Federer show that the top players need a longer break after the U.S. Open.

"They don't get their money this week," he said. "Obviously, if they were feeling well and they weren't worn down, then they would (be here). We're not getting away with anything by pulling out of tournaments. I feel like that's the way it's presented sometimes. That's just not the case."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.