Andy Murray hits back at criticism of Madrid wildcard, saying he is ‘more than happy to play qualifying’

Andy Murray pulls a face

Andy Murray has reignited the debate about wildcards in tennis with the three-time Grand Slam winner defended the decision to hand him a direct entry into the Madrid Open main draw.

Former world No 1 Murray initially said he would skip the clay-court season in order to focus on his grass campaign, but on Wednesday the Madrid Open organisers confirmed that he had accepted a wildcard.

It was later revealed that only one of the nine wildcards (four on the ATP side and five on the WTA side) had gone to a Spanish player with Carlos Gimeno Valero the only local player on the list.

There were some criticism and when Twitter user asked “Maybe ask @andy_murray why he’s taking a spot from a young Spanish talent? He feels too good for qualies?” it said off a response from Murray as he insisted that he would be more than happy to play in the qualifiers.

“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 quailes?” he replied.

Later the two-time Madrid Open champion sent a cryptic Tweet saying: “Amazing how quickly people forget in tennis 🤔”

He continued to engage with Twitter users.

“We agree that nobody is deserving of a wild card. We just disagree on the wild cards being used specifically for young local talent,” he wrote.

“Lots of people hold that view I just don’t think that’s fair on all the players out there who don’t come from countries that host tour level events. Yes British players benefit a lot from wild cards. As do Spanish players. And I don’t believe that is fair.”

He added: “Any tournament can give their wild cards to whoever they want. But just because I’m British shouldn’t make me more ‘deserving’ of a wild card than anyone else for Wimbledon. Holger Rune is less deserving than a local Spanish player?

“Nobody is saying it’s crazy and you’re entitled to that opinion. Many players don’t come from countries that happen to host big tennis tournaments. Isn’t that very unfair that those players won’t get any wild cards?”

Murray also received more than a dozen wildcards during the 2021 season, but he insisted “I don’t feel like I need to justify the reasons for why I should get wildcards”.

In 2020 seven-time Grand Slam winner Mats Wilander also question the decision to hand him a wildcard for the French Open after he was beaten in the first round.