Andy Murray, currently in the midst of a singles comeback, recently drew flak from fellow tennis legend Mats Wilander, who questioned why the former world number 1 keeps getting — and accepting — wildcards for Grand Slams.
Wilander, himself a seven-time Grand Slam winner, stopped short of calling Murray selfish but did note how he ‘needs to stop thinking of himself’ and reassess whether or not he deserves these wildcards over younger players.
Murray’s close friend, Nick Kyrgios, was having none of it. Following Wilander’s scathing remarks, the mercurial Australian sprang to Murray’s defence, with the Metro reporting how Kyrgios told Wilander to ‘shut up’ in a tweet dated September 28.
Kyrgios, who gets along well with Murray off the court, also expressed his support for the former world number 1 in the same tweet, writing, ‘Muzz, just know that however long you stay, we all appreciate and enjoy your tennis and banter’.
Kyrgios might be right. Murray deserves major props for staying around this long, especially considering the major injuries he has dealt with. Most notable of these was Murray’s troublesome hip injuries that worsened just months after Scot’s memorable 2016 season. Gala Bingo reports how 2016 was a strong year for Murray, as he won his second Wimbledon title and third Grand Slam overall. He was also part of the second-place GB Olympic team that year, winning his second gold in the quadrennial event.
Unfortunately, it has been all downhill for Murray ever since due to his hips, which have so far required two surgeries — including a delicate and complex hip resurfacing in January last year.
Murray’s injury struggles these past three years are well documented. It even forced the three-time Grand Slam winner to say that he was ending his career prior to last year’s Australian Open. But Murray, showing his trademark stubbornness once more, reconsidered his retirement plans and announced his return to singles competition.
As if on cue Murray heralded his return in style by winning the 2019 European Open in Antwerp, his first singles title in over two years. The now 33-year-old tennis star hasn’t shown the same winning form since then and has endured two thorough beatings — first against Félix Auger-Aliassime in the second round of last month’s U.S. Open, then against Stan Wawrinka in the opening round of the French Open.
According to a report by The Week, that straight sets loss to Wawrinka, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, is the Scot’s heaviest defeat in a Grand Slam to date. It is also what prompted Wilander’s critique of the 111-ranked Murray, whom he rues as taking the spot of younger, possibly more deserving players.
Not everyone agrees with the Swedish great, though, and Kyrgios has been the most vocal about it. In fact, Kyrgios followed up his initial defence of Murray with another tweet, this time pointing out how he respects Murray, but not Wilander.
Others who have come to Murray’s defence include Wawrinka’s coach, Daniel Vallverdu; Murray’s former coach, Alex Corretja; and tennis legend Jim Courier. Later this month the embattled Murray will get the chance to prove doubters wrong, as he is slated to compete at two indoor events in Cologne, Germany, which will both be held at the Lanxess Arena.