Roger Federer right to call for blood passports in tennis, says Barry Cowan
Barry Cowan blogs on Roger Federer's call for blood passports and the Rotterdam Open.
Last Updated: 17/02/13 12:50pm
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray agree that there is a clear case for more blood testing to take place and it can only be good for tennis when its top players take such a firm stance.
The Lance Armstrong scandal in cycling should serve as a wake-up call for tennis, which needs to be seen to be doing everything it can to address the issue because there can be no room for complacency.
Even if there isn't an existing problem, it's imperative that the outside world perceives that tennis is whiter than white.
That means increasing the anti-doping budget, introducing more out-of-competition tests and reversing the trend by increasing the number of blood tests that are carried out.
If you catch just one person trying to cheat the system by doing so, it has to be worth it.
I occasionally hear people say that taking drugs doesn't affect player performance in tennis, which is ridiculous because tennis is an endurance and repetition sport. The more hours you put in at the gym, or on the running track and the practice court, the better you should become.
Federer made his comments ahead of this week's Rotterdam Open, where he is top seed.
His decision not to play for Switzerland in the Davis Cup tie against the Czech Republic - a tie that the Swiss lost after Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol defeated Stanislas Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli in a remarkable seven hour and two minute slog - suggests to me that he still feels that he has a shot at reclaiming the World No 1 spot and is organising his schedule to suit.
I've no doubt that he'll enjoy being back indoors this week, where he'll be able to play his favoured brand of tennis - conditions at the Australian Open, where it is a bit slower, just didn't suit him.
The draw suggested that Federer would meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals but that is now off the cards after the Frenchman lost to Igor Sijsling.
The Dutchman is 'old-school' - he's someone who serves and volleys and comes forward; in short, he's exactly the type of player who is always likely to trouble Tsonga, particularly early on in a tournament.
The bottom half of the draw features Juan Martin del Potro, who has once again decided to miss the South American swing, and the in-form Richard Gasquet.
Del Potro continues to knock on the door in search of his next major title but if he is to beat the best, he must show a greater willingness to come forward.
The Argentine's game is still a notch above that of Gasquet, though, who now has two victories to his name this season after following up his win in Doha with success in Montpellier.
Gasquet's game has now gone full circle. When he burst onto the scene, you always felt he could light it up and beat the best on his day - just as he did against Federer in Rome in 2011.
Over the years he's become a really, really solid and consistent player but that as a result he has become less dangerous.
He now needs to get back to beating the top players and if does go deep in Rotterdam, this could be the ideal opportunity to do just that, but he can't afford to work his way into matches.
Gasquet doesn't have the ability to out-rally the top four because he's not as quick or doesn't move as well; that means he cannot play a passive game.
While he does have a shot at qualifying for the O2 because he can play on all surfaces, I see him as more of a top-eight than a top-six player.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal's comeback continues this week in Sao Paolo.
It's always a shock to see him losing on clay - and his defeat to Horacio Zeballos in the final of the Chile Open was no exception - but in this case there were extenuating circumstances!
When you take into account that he'd been out injured since June and the nature of his injury (knee tendonitis), I thought he played pretty well - even in the final.
Yes, he's a long way off from where he wants his game to be but at least he is getting matches under his belt now. He wouldn't want to play a top-10 player at the moment, so Sao Paolo should sit well with him.
Winning an event is not the be-all-and-end-all over the next three weeks.
But it would send shockwaves through the sport if Nadal was to lose to a player of Zeballos' stature at April's Monte Carlo Masters.