Murray Embroiled in Dubai ‘Practice-Gate’, Djokovic Avoids Getting Bagged
World No. 4 Andy Murray is under criticism yet again. A few weeks after the Marseille tournament took shots at the Brit for reneging on his commitment to the French tennis event, now it’s Dubai’s turn to fire similar concerns.
The controversy centers on statements Murray made following his three-set loss to Janko Tipsarevic on Wednesday. Murray told on-site media afterward that he was “working on some things” during the match.
He went on to add that “if it was a slam or something, my tactics and my game style would have been a bit different. You know, like I said, I wasn’t necessarily coming in as well prepared as I have done in previous tournaments. You know, I was trying different things. So I made more mistakes than normal, and I went for a lot tonight. … I need to make sure I’m playing my best tennis at Indian Wells and Miami. I need to be in top shape for there.”
Basically, he came into the match short on practice – still reeling from that crushing loss to Roger Federer in Australia? – and instead of playing his normal game he tried some new things like serve-and-volley and to go for more winners. And he did it on the grounds that the event wasn’t a “slam or something”, whatever “something” means.
Well, when you are Dubai and are paying the guy a hefty guarantee, you don’t want him showing up to use the tournament as an extended practice session like Murray said he did. You pay him that kind of dough to watch him perform at the highest of levels and now the Dubai tournament feels like they got stiffed and they are not terribly happy about it.
Says Barclays tournament consultant John Beddington, “We are disappointed that he lost and also that he made remarks which were not really necessary. … Dubai Duty Free looked after him very well and put him up in the Burj Al Arab hotel and tried to make his stay here as comfortable as possible. … If he is going to be testing out new strategies, a match of this significance was probably not the place to do it.”
Even Novak Djokovic weighed in on the matter and took a dig at Andy. “I think that every tournament is important tournament. So that’s the way I accepted every tournament in my professional career. … I cannot calculate and I cannot experiment. Of course sometimes maybe you should prioritize some bigger events. … You carry certain responsibility when you are Top 5, Top 10 in the world. You cannot just go out there and practice.”
I get that players have good days and bad days, and sometimes they vary there playing styles often with mixed results. But Murray has to know better not speak about such efforts so loosely and carelessly to the press. Especially when he’s doing it at a tournament like Dubai that pays him a very good chuck of cash.
Like Novak remarked, the players, especially the top guys, have a responsibility. And Murray needs to understand that Dubai isn’t paying him six figures and putting him up at one of the poshest hotels on planet so he can show up and put on a practice-type effort. They are paying him to play his best tennis and give his all when he walks out between the lines.
If Murray hasn’t got that message by now I’m sure he will once tournaments like Dubai start reducing their cash payouts for the Brit. Until then with Murray, it’s buyer beware.
As for the matches, Djokovic overcame a set and a break to fend off the nicely improving Marcos Bagdhatis who was just 3 of 16 on break chances. Novak got up an early break on Marcos early in the third and hung on in a match that just finished. Mikhail Youzhny also won earlier defeating Jurgen Melzer in straights setting up the final tomorrow against Novak.
Djokovic and Youhzny have split their six previous meetings with the Russian winning all three indoor meetings including a victory just a few weeks ago in Rotterdam. Djokovic is the defending champion in Dubai.
In Acapulco, top seed Fernando Verdasco was beaten last night by Juan Monaco. In the semifinals today, Monaco locks up with the red-hot Juan Carlos Ferrero while in the other it’s a good one between David Ferrer and Fernando Gonzalez.
And in Delray Beach, today’s quarterfinals feature Ben Becker v. Jarkko Nieminen, Ernests Gulbis v. Leonardo Mayer and a couple decent night matches with James Blake v. Ivo Karlovic and Mardy Fish v. Jeremy Chardy.
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