Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) chief Chris Kermode has labelled the re-emergence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in 2017 'positive' not only for tennis but for sport as a whole.
Federer and Nadal at the moment are 2017's two best players having won a combined six titles. The Swiss ace has won three of the four tournaments he has played including his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, while the Spaniard has played in six finals, two of which - the Australian Open and Miami Masters - he lost to Federer and picked up three titles.
Both the players are coming into the 2017 campaign after struggling with injuries last season. Federer did not play for the final six months of 2016 due to a knee injury, while Nadal cut short his season in October last year owing to wrist injury problems. Despite the lack of match practice coming into the 2017 season, both players have been in top form and are leading the way in the singles race.
While Nadal decided to play the full ATP tour schedule thus far, Federer has skipped the entire clay court swing of the season including the ongoing second Grand Slam of the year at Roland Garros. The latter, who is expected to return from his 10-week break next week (12 June) at the Mercedes Cup, was criticised by the owner of the Madrid Open. Kermode, however, has defended the former world number one suggesting that they should not be forced to play all the events.
"It was a surprise for everyone to see them being back with so much energy at the beginning of the year at the Australian [Open] final that for me was one of the best ever," Kermode said, as quoted by Tennis World USA. "I think their comeback is positive not only for tennis but for sports in general, they are great ambassadors and icons."
"When you won so much like Roger and Rafa did, the most important thing is that they play well as much as possible. You have not to put pressure on them to play more," the ATP chief added, referring to Federer taking a lengthy break midway through the season.