Federer is latest big name to skip Paris Masters

Monday, October 30th 2006, 3:24 pm
By: News On 6

PARIS (AP) _ Roger Federer pulled out of the Paris Masters because of fatigue Monday, and tennis officials promised to take steps to make sure the game's elite players abide by their commitments to the top tournaments.

The withdrawal by the game's No. 1 player came a day after he won the Swiss Indoors for his 11th title this year. No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal said Sunday he would not compete in Paris because of an abdominal injury. Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian also have withdrawn.

``Roger phoned this morning to say he is suffering from a general fatigue,'' tournament co-director Alain Riou said. ``He's scared of pushing too hard, so he'd rather not take the risk.''

ATP chairman Etienne de Villiers promised changes to ``assure the future of this fantastic tournament.''

``This reinforces my determination to introduce significant reform of the calendar, of its structure, of bonus payments, and the necessary sanctions needed to permit the best players to play ... our biggest tournaments,'' De Villiers said.

In first-round matches, Robby Ginepri defeated Max Mirnyi 6-4, 5-7, 6-2; Nicolas Almagro beat Jonas Bjorkman 6-7 (4), 7-6 (7), 7-6 (2); and Olivier Rochus downed Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 7-5. Also advancing were Daniele Bracciali and Michael Llodra.

ATP rules allow players to skip two of the nine Masters events without a fine or suspension. Federer also missed the Hamburg Masters in May.

``This is devaluing our product,'' Riou said. ``It does not meet the expectation of the fans.''

Cedric Pioline, co-director and a former top 10 player, added: ``The only sanction that can work is a suspension. That's the only argument a player will understand. Financial penalties don't make much of an impact on earnings.''

Riou said the Paris Masters is vulnerable because of its place on the tennis calendar and the move of the Masters Cup (Nov. 12-19) to China.

``It is a lot harder to go there than Europe after a long season,'' Riou said.

Federer, Nadal, Roddick and Ivan Ljubicic have qualified for the Masters Cup in Shanghai. Nikolay Davydenko is the only player competing this week assured a spot in the season-ending event. Three berths are still open.

Federer won his fourth consecutive title Sunday and the 44th of his career. The Swiss star had been hoping to make his first appearance at the Paris Masters since 2003, when he lost in the quarterfinals to Tim Henman.