Ivan Lendl: ‘Andy Murray earned the right to play when he wants to play and has the passion to continue’

Andy Murray swinging

Ivan Lendl believes Andy Murray still has the passion to play competitive tennis, insisting that the former world No 1 has earned the right to receive wildcards into big tournaments.

On the back of a disappointing first-round exit from the French Open, Murray’s future on the ATP was thrown in to question with Eurosport commentator Mats Wilander saying he is “giving a false sense of hope” and also suggested he is receiving wildcards at the expense of youngsters.

“I worry about Andy Murray,” Wilander said. “I would love to hear him say why he is out there, giving us a false sense of hope that he is going to come back one day.”

He added: “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?”

Mats Wilander questions why Andy Murray is still playing on what feels like his farewell tour

However, the tennis community rallied around Murray with Chris Evert, Jim Courier, Nick Kyrgios and Jamie Murray, among others, all hitting back at Wilander.

And now Murray’s former coach Lendl has also come to the three-time Grand Slam winner’s defence.

“I know you [Mats] got criticised a lot for saying that, and they should not be taking wildcards and leave it to the young players, and I disagree,” Lendl said on the Eurosport Tennis Legends podcast.

“I disagree. 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 the passion for it. I do believe that Andy has the passion.

“Let’s go back a little bit into the history of wildcards. The wildcards, in general, were given to the sponsors to get attractive players for the tournament.

“It kind of turned somewhat towards young players, which is fine as well. But it’s not written anywhere that it needs to be a young player and not somebody older.

“What happened at the French I think was not normal. Something else happened and I don’t know what it was, but I think Andy has the passion.

“I think Andy is trying to prove that he can come back after a serious hip surgery, and all I can say is we should all be pulling for him and wishing him the best.”

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