Former World No.1 Andy Murray has hit back over suggestions that he should not have been awarded a wildcard entry to the upcoming Madrid Open.
The three-time Grand Slam champion, who is a two-time Madrid Open winner in 2008 and 2015, was due to skip the clay-court season to focus on training for the grass-court swing and Wimbledon after reuniting with Ivan Lendl as his coach.
Although Murray is yet to decide whether he will compete at the French Open in May, he has been training on clay in Florida and has now accepted a wildcard into the Madrid Masters tournament which gets underway next week. The former British No.1 was one of nine players across the men’s and women’s tournaments to receive a wildcard.
Murray responded to a fan on Twitter who suggested he has taken a spot from a home player, saying: “More than happy to play qualifying. 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 qualifies?”
Several fans have pointed out that other players may be more deserving of a wildcard spot. Spaniards Fernando Verdasco and WTA compatriot Paula Badosa have spoken out about the plight of Spanish players in particular, who they claim are missing out on a big opportunity to showcase their talent.
“We find it surprising, as well as very frustrating, that the biggest event of tennis in Spain shows such little support for Spanish tennis players with the invitations granted, especially to the main draw,” Verdasco wrote. “Commercial interests have prevailed over those of Spanish sport.”
Badosa replied to her compatriot’s tweet, saying: “Very sad to see things like this for Spanish tennis. When there is a lot of potential…
“A year ago I entered the tournament for a WC and I had one of the best tournaments of my career. A tournament that I will never forget thanks to a WC.”
“It’s a huge opportunity for everyone, and it’s a shame that the only tournament we have at a level like this, this happens… We have to give our tennis players opportunities to continue growing.”