Exclusive – Mats Wilander admits battling Andy Murray proved him wrong

Andy Murray

Mats Wilander came in for criticism when he questioned why Andy Murray was still accepting wild cards for major events after his French Open exit in late 2020, but he admits the two-time Wimbledon champion has proved him wrong.

Speaking exclusively to Tennis365 ahead of Eurosport’s coverage of the Australian Open, the eight-time Grand Slam champion now believes Murray is ready to enjoy a successful 2022 after showing good form in recent months.

Many questioned why the former world number one was continuing in the sport after he underwent hip surgery three years ago, but Wilander suggests Murray could be a player to watch this year.

“He has come around and is doing much better now,” Wilander told us. “He took that wild card at the French Open and didn’t really show up against Stan Wawrinka and he has proven his point after that.

“He put me on the spot when I said what I said about him getting a wildcard in Paris and I told him, ‘no I don’t think you should get them if you are not motivated’. Now he looks fully focused again, so I have no problem about him taking wild cards now.

“He is playing good. Andy Murray is never going to be that player who will beat players off the court if they play well, but he will make them play worse and that’s the sign of a great player.

“Andy Murray has a great mind, he is motivated and for me, it is all physical. His game style may be slightly old-fashioned, but the brain is not, he is a problem solver.”

Mats Wilander will work for Eurosport at the Australian Open

When assessing what Murray can aim for in the next 12 months, Wilander sets the bar a little higher than many might expect ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year in Australia that gets underway on January 17th.

“He can get to quarter-finals at Grand Slams, for sure, if he is healthy,” added Wilander. “I’m pulling for Andy. It is great to see someone who plays tennis matches with the inside of his brain still winning tennis matches among the big hitters.

“He is one of the smartest players on tour. You make a lot of decisions with your heart when you are a player like Andy Murray. You have to die to win and then you make good decisions.

“It will be tough for him to get his ranking back up into the top ten, but he can certainly have good runs at big events and players know they are in for a real battle when they step on court with Andy Murray.”

The Australian Open will be on Eurosport from January 17th.