Andy Murray on Naomi Osaka being heckled: ‘I feel for Naomi, but it’s always been part of sport’

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Naomi Osaka at the changeover

He is often bewildered by the fact that heckling is allowed in sport and he “feels for Naomi Osaka”, but Andy Murray says it is sadly part and parcel of sport.

Four-time Grand Slam winner Osaka was reduced to tears during her second-round defeat at the hands of Veronika Kudermetova at the BNP Paribas Masters on Saturday.

A spectator shouted “Naomi, you suck!” during the early stages of the match and the Japanese star complained to the umpire and was seen wiping away tears.

After the match the former world No 1 said the incident reminded her of 2001 when Venus and Serena Williams were booed at the tournament.

Murray was asked for his thoughts about the Osaka encounter and replied: “It’s a difficult one,” he said. “I’ve often thought watching certain sports, I wouldn’t say I’ve often seen it loads in tennis … but if I watch a football or a soccer match and a player’s going to take throw-in or a corner kick and the crowd are just hurling insults at those individuals.

“I always think, how is that allowed? Like, you can’t do that. Like, you can’t do that. You know, if you’re doing that to someone when you’re walking down the street or in any other sort of work environment, you know, that’s obviously not tolerated.

“I’ve played in certain atmospheres as well myself in tennis, like Davis Cup atmospheres, away from home, especially where the atmosphere’s intense, and sometimes things are said, you know, and it’s not that comfortable.

“The people that come to watch, you want them to be there and supporting the players and not making it more difficult for them. I don’t know, but there’s also, it’s also something that’s always just kind of been part of sports as well.”

Although he is uncomfortable with heckling, the three-time Grand Slam winner says players need to be able to “deal with it”.

He added: “If I you go and watch a basketball match, for example, and a player’s taking free throws, you know, I would say like almost every basketball match I’ve been to one of the players has been heckled by the crowd as well, and whilst it is wrong for those individuals to be doing it, you know, the athletes obviously, I guess, have to kind of be used to that as well or be able to deal with that too, even though it’s not pleasant.

“I feel for Naomi, that obviously it upset her a lot and, you know, but yeah, it’s always been something that’s been part of sport, I guess, as well. So, you know, you have to, I guess, be prepared for that in some ways and be able to tolerate it because it does happen regularly across all sports.”

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