Andy Murray shares another ‘unpopular opinion’ – ‘Sometimes players are a little bit hypocritical’

Shahida Jacobs
Andy Murray after a match
Andy Murray takes a break

Andy Murray admits he has a problem with players who complain about the long ATP Tour schedule when they use the off-season to take part in exhibitions all over the world.

The ATP Tour season traditionally starts in January with the Australian swing – sometimes it even starts on the final few days of December – and finishes in November with the ATP Finals and the Davis Cup Finals the final two events of the year.

Many a player has grumbled over the past few years about the number of tournaments on the calendar and the season being too long with some believing it eventually takes its toll on the players.

In an interview with The National, former world No 1 Andy was asked what he would change in tennis if he was the commissioner of the sport and he replied: “Probably the schedule. If I could do whatever I wanted, and there were no contracts in place that would stop me from moving the schedule around, there’s obvious things that I would do.”

Just a day after Murray posted an “unpopular opinion” about adding a South American Masters event to the ATP Tour calendar, he also questioned top players for being critical about the long season when they are all too happy to play in exhibitions.

READ MORE: Andy Murray supported by Boris Becker as he shares an ‘unpopular opinion’

The three-time Grand Slam winner added: “I think there should be a longer off-season as well.

“I don’t know if I would want restrictions on exhibitions. I just think that sometimes the players are a little bit hypocritical [over] the tennis schedule, and it’s like the tennis schedule is too long, but then players are flying all over the world in the off-season to play exhibitions, and that’s their choice.

“But it just seems hypocritical because they don’t have to play the exhibitions. And they don’t have to play every tournament on the ATP Tour; they can decide not to come here [to Dubai] or they don’t have to play Indian Wells.

“Yes, that might harm their ranking, but they can choose to miss those events. So yeah, I would probably like to see a longer off-season.

“And I wouldn’t want to ban exhibitions. I would just ask the players to be a little bit more selective with how they talk about the Tour and the schedule and everything when they’re off playing exhibitions. And now there’s going to be more in the middle of the season.”

Players have traditionally taken part in exhibition events during the off-season, but these events are now also popping up mid-season as the Ultimate Tennis Showdown was stage in February, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz will compete in The Netflix Slam at the beginning of March while the Six Kings Slam – featuring Nadal, Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner and Holger Rune – will be staged in Saudi Arabia in October.

Murray lamented the fact that it is usually the top players who benefit from these events instead of those who are in need.

“It’s the top players in the world that are able to play exhibitions, where they make lots of money, but the rest of the players they don’t have that opportunity and who should you feel more,” he said. “Well, the players that are at the top of the game make loads of money from prize money, commercial sponsorships, appearance fees and everything, and exhibitions.

“It is the slightly lower-ranked players that obviously don’t get those opportunities. So for them, they want more tournaments, because it’s a chance for them to earn more money. So there has to be a bit of a balance to that.”