Andy Murray took to social media to defend himself after a number of fans criticised the Brit after he accepted a wildcard to enter the Mutua Madrid Open.
The British tennis star had previously announced his intention to skip the clay-court season in Europe – which concludes with the French Open – to use the next two months to focus on the upcoming grass season. However, the former World No. 1 has surprisingly accepted a wildcard offer to compete at the Madrid Open next week.
Fernando Verdasco was especially frustrated with the decision to award just one Spanish player – 20-year-old Carlos Gimeno – a wildcard to the main draw. The former World No. 7 compared Madrid’s wildcard choices to those made by Rome Masters officials, who awarded five wildcards to Italian players.
“Faced with the announcement today by the Mutua Madrid Open regarding the invitations they are going to offer for this year's tournament, many Spanish players cannot help but give our opinion,” Verdasco wrote. “We find it surprising, as well as very frustrating, that the biggest event of tennis in Spain shows such little (or no) support for Spanish tennis players with the invitations granted, especially to the main draw.”
Just two hours after Verdasco’s comments, Murray took to Twitter to write: “Amazing how quickly people forget in tennis” – and quickly responded to a fan who suggested the 34-year-old was taking spots away from young and upcoming talent in such tournaments.
“More than happy to play qualifying,” Murray replied. “Will most likely play qualies in Rome. If a tournament invites me to come and play in the main draw are you suggesting I should turn it down and play qualies?”
The fan replied by pointing to Murray’s own experience as a wildcard at Wimbledon back in 2005 and how ‘special’ it was for the future two-time Championships winner. He then added: “But for someone who doesn't like long toilet breaks, you take/accept quite a lot of WC’s”
What did you make of the decision to award Murray a wildcard? Let us know in the comments section.
“It was incredibly special,” Murray replied. “My point is that nobody ‘deserves’ wild cards. Me included. Just because you come from a country that happens to host major tennis events or are signed to a management company that runs tennis events you aren’t more deserving than anyone else.”
Murray once again clarified that he was keen to play challengers and qualifiers, but saw other matches in Korea and America get cancelled before he accepted the Madrid wildcard. Murray is also reportedly considering an effort at the Rome Masters in May but he is not planning to enter Roland Garros.
Murray will likely begin grass-court preparations in late May, with the Surbiton Challenger – which runs from May 30 to June 5 – serving as his first event on home soil. After two-and-a-half years dealing with hip issues, Murray has shown improved form but he has crashed out in the second round in six successive events.
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