Andy Murray equals record for most wildcards received as top analyst and Victoria Azarenka defend him

Andy Murray in action Credit: Alamy
Andy Murray in action Credit: Alamy

Andy Murray is now the joint-record holder for most wildcard entries received on the ATP Tour and he is likely to break that record at some point this year.

The three-time Grand Slam confirmed earlier this week that he would compete at the Dubai Tennis Championships at the end of February after accepting a wildcard – the 53rd of his career – from organisers. Murray failed to receive a direct entry into the main draw as he is currently outside the top 60 in the ATP Rankings.

It means he has drawn level with retired German player Tommy Haas for most wildcards received on the ATP Tour since 1990 and they are two ahead of Goran Ivanisevic with James Blake (49) and Lleyton Hewitt (41) completing the top five.

There were some online grumbles over the former world No 1’s infamous record, but his former coach and tennis analyst Mark Petchy has defended him.

“The thing about Wild Cards on the tour are they are commercially driven. Less so at the Grand Slams. If you are losing your mind that @andy_murray has one it’s because your favourite is not selling a ticket,” he wrote on Twitter

Former women’s world No 1 and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka also has no problem with Murray getting entries into tournaments via wildcards.

“A bit harsh no? Maybe the sentence that Andy does deserve to get a WC after all his achievements is enough? Just my opinion…” she replied.

The debate around Murray and wildcards is not a new one as it was also in the spotlight at the 2020 French Open when former world No 1 Mats Wilander questioned the wisdom behind giving him a wildcard after he exited in the first round.

“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?” he asked

“I was 26 when I first retired, came back at 28, played until 32 and there was couple of years I played and should not have taken up the space where there were younger, more motivated players who were better than what I was.”

Murray insisted afterwards that he has no problem accepting wildcards while the likes of Alex Corretja and Dani Vallverdu also backed him with the latter stating: “He’s entitled to his opinion. Like i’m entitled to mine to think that’s absolutely PATHETIC from Mats…”

Wilander, though, did apologise for his comments as he believed Murray proved him wrong.

“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 wildcards now,” he said.

The question of wildcards came up again at the Madrid Open last year and Murray insisted he was happy to play 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 asked.

He added: “We agree that nobody is deserving of a wild card. We just disagree on the wild cards being used specifically for young local talent.

“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.”

READ MORE: Andy Murray’s potential schedule for the 2023 season.

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