Andy Murray: I would never be tempted by Saudi millions

·4 min read
Andy Murray: Unlike golf rebels, I would not be tempted by Saudi millions - GETTY IMAGES
Andy Murray: Unlike golf rebels, I would not be tempted by Saudi millions - GETTY IMAGES

Andy Murray has reiterated that he would never play on a Saudi-run tennis tour, like golf's controversial defectors to the LIV golf series.

Golf has been rocked in recent months by the £2 billion launch of the breakaway series and last week Telegraph Sport revealed that Saudi Arabia is also trying to entice a women’s tour event to their country.

There have been previous examples of exhibition tennis events planned in the gulf state. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had been due to play a showdown in Jeddah in 2018, before it was called off due to their respective injuries.  

But two-time Wimbledon champion Murray rejected a £1.5million offer to play exhibition matches in Saudi Arabia over concerns about human rights. When asked if he would ever follow in these golfer's footsteps, and accept a "sack full of cash" to play on a different tour, he was unequivocally against the idea.

"They did, they put on an event in Saudi Arabia a few years ago, and I was offered to play there," he said. "I know a number of the other guys on the tour were offered to play there. I don't think the player field that went was what they were hoping. A lot of the, I would say, top players and bigger names turned it down. And I personally wouldn't go and play there."

Murray's comments came on the eve of Wimbledon, where he is hoping to make an impact after a number of years thwarted by injury.

He appears to have recovered from the abdominal problem that hampered his preparations over the past two weeks, and will open his campaign on Centre Court on Monday against Australia's James Duckworth.

Andy Murray Wimbledon Ivan Lendl - GETTY IMAGES
Andy Murray Wimbledon Ivan Lendl - GETTY IMAGES

His coach and eight-time major champion Ivan Lendl has been by his side during training sessions at the All England Club this past week.

Lendl was part of Murray's team during his most successful period, including all three of his major victories. They linked back up in March in a last ditch effort to reinvigorate Murray's career which was blighted by a hip injury that kept him sidelined for long periods between 2017 and 2020 and forced him to undergo resurfacing surgery.

Lendl's enduring belief in Murray has been a boost to his game he said, seeing him beat world No 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas and reach the final in Stuttgart earlier this month. "I showed a couple weeks ago that there was still good tennis left in me," he said. "I know the tennis is in there; I just need to bring it out during the event now. Having Ivan on my team helps. We've had a lot of success in the past. We know each other well. He still believes in me. There's not loads of coaches, people out there that have done over this last period, and he has. That definitely helps me."

During those years in the tennis wilderness, Murray revealed a number of coaches rejected offers to work with him - a sore point he uses as motivation. "It hasn't hurt me. In many ways it's been a motivation. [I] got turned down by a lot of coaches. That obviously was difficult to deal with. That's also why I'm grateful that Ivan has come back to work with me and help me try and achieve what it is I want to achieve."

Djokovic using US Open ban as Wimbledon motivation

Meanwhile reigning champion Novak Djokovic said he was using the fact he is not permitted to play the US Open - due to being unvaccinated - as extra motivation going into Wimbledon.

At present, US law states that no unvaccinated person can gain entry to the country, and Djokovic said on Saturday he had no intention of changing his vaccination status. It means Wimbledon could be his last opportunity to win a major this year.

"Yes, of course, I'm aware of that. That is an extra motivation to do well here," he said. "Hopefully I can have a very good tournament, as I have done in the last three editions. Then I'll just have to wait and see. I would love to go to States. But as of today, that's not possible. There is not much I can do any more. I mean, it's really up to the U.S. government to make a decision whether or not they allow unvaccinated people to go into the country."

Top seed Djokovic is looking for his fourth-consecutive title at the All England Club this year. He will face tough competition in Rafael Nadal, who confirmed he has been waking up pain-free, after undergoing radiofrequency ablation treatment on his chronically injured foot earlier this month.

Meanwhile in Eastbourne on Saturday, Taylor Fritz took the men's title, while Petra Kvitova won in the women's singles.

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