Mats Wilander has changed his tune on Andy Murray, saying he is ‘100 per cent sure’ the Brit still has passion for the game.
The Swede had slammed Murray after the 33-year-old’s first-round exit from the French Open in September. After Murray’s 1-6, 3-6 2-6 to Stan Wawrinka in the Roland Garros opener, Wilander questioned whether Murray should be taking wildcards to big events any more.
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Since he suffered a hip injury in 2017, three-time Grand Slam champion Murray has undergone two surgeries but hasn’t been able to get back to his best.
“I would love to hear him (Murray) say why he is out there, giving us a false sense of hope that he is going to come back one day,” Wilander had said during the French Open.
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“I think Andy Murray needs to stop thinking of himself and start thinking about who he was. Does he have a right to be out there taking wildcards from the young players?”
But the Swede, a seven-time major champion himself, seems to have backtracked from his stance.
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Eurosport experts Wilander and Alex Corretja were in conversation with Murray’s former coach Ivan Lendl during a special edition of the Tennis Legends vodcast, where Lendl staunchly defended the Brit.
“I know you (Mats) got criticised a lot for saying that, and they should not be taking wild cards and leave it to the young players, and I disagree,” the legendary Czech said.
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“I think players like Andy Murray or Pete Sampras, before he won his last US Open, everybody was asking me, ‘shouldn’t Pete Sampras retire?’, and I said, ‘Pete Sampras has earned the right to retire when he wants to retire’.
“To me, Andy Murray has earned the right to play when he wants to play, as long as he has passion for it. I do believe that Andy has the passion.”
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Wilander agreed with Lendl, who helped Murray end the British Grand Slam drought by winning the 2012 US Open.
“I’m pulling for him 100 per cent,” the 56-year-old Swede said. “I’m with you, Ivan. He has deserved it.”
“I think the interesting question is passion. Does Andy have the passion? And I think he does. I am 100 per cent sure he does,” he added.