By Ros Satar

  •  Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic & Roger Federer talk to the press ahead of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals
  • The recent WADA findings on the scale of doping in Athletics drew strong opinions from the World Top 3
  • The focus continued on Murray’s hopes for a good run here and the Davis Cup Final

LONDON, UK – What should be the culmination of a great season of tennis perhaps found itself unfairly shadowed by the recent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) findings on the Athletics doping crisis.

Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules

It is fair to say that the sporting world was rocked by the sheer extent of WADA’s findings and perhaps the more damning accusations that Athletics’ governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) were implicated in covering up the scandal.

 

But was it a surprise? Not to Roger Federer, who believes that more should be done by the sport in general to govern itself.

He told the press, during the pre-tournament press conference: “I think they are trying their best. I think we can always do more. Whenever you make the quarters, of any tournament in my opinion, where the points and money become greater, just know you will be tested. That would be very clear and simple.

“That’s how you scare off people too. The country too, I think the Swiss programme is tough and strict. Then again out of competition, that should be increased, too. I don’t see them very often. It should happen more often.”

He did think though that perhaps it was not stringent enough in competition, as it stands:

“I don’t understand that you have a run, win a couple of events and don’t get tested. It just can’t be that way. I’m always surprised I win a tournie, I walk off the court and I’m like where’s the doping guy? I don’t get that part. I hope the future’s going to be better and we preserve the good clean image of our sport.”

World No. 1 and three time defending champion Novak Djokovic concurred:

 

“Of course with Olympic Games coming up, there’s always a certain subject/controversies coming up. Obviously people are trying to discover as many information as possible. Of course I am for a clean sport, and for transparency, fair and square conditions for every athlete, because I think from the perspective of tennis we’ve been very good in terms of doping scandals.

“We haven’t had many, especially not in the high level. You know you get tested quite a lot throughout the year, on the competition and off as well, so I think in terms of that, well I don’t know how many times they test the other players, but from what I hear, it’s a pretty solid number which works/allows the anti-doping agency and the ATP to track down possible things that the athletes can do and they’re not allowed.”

 

 

Andy Murray, who has a shot at finishing at World No. 2 at the end of this season has always been forthright on his views of doping in sport, and in the past has suggested that the prize money be put towards better finding anti-doping measures in the sport.

He re-iterated: “I do think the more transparency, the better. There’s absolutely no question about that. And I do think that we as a sport could invest more money in the anti-doping process. The prize money now is so, so high that there’s no reason for us not to have [this] as perfect as possible, a process really.

“I do think that the more money that’s invested in it gives you a better chance of catching everyone that’s cheating and also gaining the trust of the public as well which I think across sport in general is fading. It seems like every week something new is coming out and across a variety of different sports and we just hope that tennis can remain as clean as possible.”

Of course for the Brit there is more at stake than just the prospect of advancing to the final for the first time, but ahead of that, Murray will be a pivotal part of the British team battling against Belgium for the Davis Cup.

After drawing some ire for stating that he might consider skipping the ATP season finale in London, and admitting that this may not be his priority, he stll gave himself a good fist of a chance of going very deep here.

He said: “I think definitely I have a chance to win here. I do think that I have to be a bit realistic in the first few days. I have just switched surfaces and balls and now I will be going back again and I might not be timing the ball perfectly at the beginning of the week but as it goes on hopefully I will start to play better tennis. I do feel I have an opportunity here. I think the conditions in Paris are fairly similar to here so it will be interesting to see how I get on. But I do think I am playing well enough to go far.”

We saw at the WTA Finals in Singapore just a couple of weeks ago that even if you lose a couple of rounds, it is not impossible to make it into the knock out stages. That probably is not the scenario that most want to entertain – in fact the mere thought of scenarios are enough to send most of us running for calculators, abaci, or just plain running!

Djokovic said: “Of course it does give you an option to survive the group stage with one and eventually two lost matches but I’m definitely not considering to lose any matches. I’m going to approach this tournament as any other and every match with the intention to win.”

Of course neither Djokovic or Federer are strangers to the challenge of playing the ATP World Tour Finals and then travelling on to play at the Davis Cup Final – so what advice could they give Murray?

Federer said: “I think you have to ask Stan. He was in good shape. He handled it very well… we played same amount of matches here, but I was dealing with a back problem from Saturday night ‘til Davis Cup. Stan handled it great, played unreal against Tsonga.

“Me, it took a match to get confident, knowing that I could play. A big relief for me. But it’s possible. I know it’s a surface change but it’s something we do on many occasions throughout the year, maybe not within a few days, but we’ve done it in juniors, the pros, many levels all the time. You know if you had more time you’d play better tennis, but it’s not a tournament, it’s just a 2-3 day thing. I think it’s a great challenge for Andy and I’m sure he’s excited about it.”

Murray’s request for a Monday start was granted and he will kick off his campaign against David Ferrer, over whom he scored a win in the Paris Masters semi-final, while Federer and Djokovic will vie once more in their rich rivalry, but for the first time this year, not in a final.

Play starts for the 2015 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday, at 2pm GMT.

Main Image Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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