A year ago, the world of tennis was
shaken by strong criticism from Rafael Nadal of Roger Federer, but
time has gone by and a delicate issue such as doping has made the two
men see eye to eye.
"I'm glad we agree on this, it's important," the Spaniard said as he advanced late Wednesday to the quarter-finals of the tournament in the Mexican seaside city of Acapulco.
A day earlier, Federer had spoken about Nadal's proposal to make doping tests public.
"Sure, I mean, it's an idea. I'm for transparency. I'm for aggressive tests, and I have always been like that," Federer said in the Middle East.
"For me, it's just important that we make sure that the integrity of the game is, you know, kept where it's supposed to be and that the tour and everybody, the players, everybody, has to agree and that we should be trying to do that," said the current world number two.
Federer stressed that "there is a big sense of urgency that we make sure that our sport stays as clean as possible."
"It's very important," he said.
The long-distance agreement between the two former world number ones is hardly a minor issue after their tensions of 2012: in January last year Nadal accused Federer of not doing enough for players as president of the ATP's Player Council.
"It's very easy to say, 'I won't say anything, everything is positive and I'll sound like a gentleman and let the others burn out'," such was Nadal's surprising comment at the 2012 Australian Open.
Two months later Nadal resigned as vice president of the council, which Federer leads to this day, and then Nadal took a long injury break from tennis and disagreements were left behind.
Now, the fight against doping is making both men actually agree.
When he returned to the ATP Tour earlier this month in Vina del Mar, the Spaniard had said that all doping tests should be "public."
"In my opinion tests have to be public, people on the street do not know just how many tests we do or do not undergo, and I don't see why all the tests cannot be public," Nadal said in the Chilean tournament.
In fact, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) publishes in its website the statistics regarding how many tests each player has undergone throughout the year. However, the most recent data are for 2011, and they give no details as to the precise kind of tests and the dates in which they were carried out.
"It's good to see top players like Rafael be so open to debate this issue, but there are limits," ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti told dpa in an interview last week in Rio de Janeiro.
"We cannot reveal everything. Otherwise, we will not have surprise tests. We have a limit, which is confidentiality," he said. "Maybe at the end of each year we could reveal what we did. But still it depends on the collaboration of national agencies."
Federer, who said only a few days ago that he himself proves "day after day" that it is possible to be clean as a high-performance sportsman, was clear in his approach.
"I am in favour of transparency and aggressive controls. I have always been in favour," he said.
Nadal, on the other hand, questioned surprise tests for many years as an invasion of his privacy. After a seven-month injury break, he appears to have rethought his public stance on the issue.
"It's important, and the truth is that it's better this way rather than us then going out to say we do or do not undergo enough tests. Let them be public and let people know how many we undergo and how many we don't," he said when told of Federer's support.
"That's what I would do with all the hype that has arisen around the Armstrong case," he said.
"It's necessary for us all to make an effort for sport to be transparent and very clean, because there are very few doping cases."
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