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ATP swimming in lawsuits as tennis hits troubled waters

ATP swimming in lawsuits as tennis hits troubled watersGeneva - Legal issues look to be clouding the immediate future of the ATP with up to three lawsuits - one already moving ahead - set to complicate life this spring for the men's sanctioning body.

Officials from the spurned Hamburg Masters event are confident as they push ahead with their lawsuit protesting demotion from the elite ranks and a 2009 date change into what they feel are the desolation days of late July.

The matter will be heard in a Delaware court post-Wimbledon, according to those familiar with the case.

German tennis boss Georg von Waldenfels is planning an all-out legal attack to save the traditional May date at the Rothenbaum venue.

"The fight David vs Goliath continues," he said. "I expect justice from the United States of America."

ATP boss Etienne de Villiers is also under fire from Top-20 players, most of whom have reportedly signed a petition asking the board to look long and hard for a successor when the former Disney executive's contract comes up for renewal at the end of the year.

Among those reported to have signed: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, with Nadal voicing complaints at a crowded schedule which pitches clay-courters into their element only days after the end of spring hardcourt play.

"It's not fair to have one month, two (US Masters hardcourt) tournaments, and after to go back to Europe and we have to play three Masters Series (Monte Carlo, Rome, Hamburg) on clay."

"We only have three clay Masters Series during all the season, and we have three in four weeks. For us it's terrible.

"And three Masters Series in the middle of the biggest tournament on clay in the world: Barcelona. So if you see the calendar, that is unbelievable."

In addition, the five Italian players suspended over past months for minor betting on matches - not their own - are also said to be considering their legal options.

With the ATP losing its long-standing Mercedes contract worth a reported 10 million dollars per season, the body may not be well- placed to be spending vast sums on the lawyers it looks like it will be surely needing.

To round off matters, Miami champion Nikolay Davydenko, still under a probe eight months after a match he lost in August attracted unusual betting interest, has hinted through his legal team that he may have his own issues to solve with the ATP when his agonizing case is finally concluded.

"Cases can be long," said the Russian number four. "I can wait, no problem, because I can still play tennis. I can wait three, four years - no problem.

"I haven't heard anything for a long time. So I can just play tennis. My lawyers are dealing with the ATP."

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