I would never be tempted by Saudi millions

Andy Murray: Unlike golf rebels, I wouldn’t be tempted by Saudi millions – GETTY IMAGES

Andy Murray reiterated that he would never play on a Saudi Arabia-driven tennis tour like the controversial golf defectors of the LIV golf series.

Golf has been shaken in recent months by the launch of the £2bn breakaway series and last week the Telegraph Sport revealed that Saudi Arabia is also trying to attract a women’s tourism event to its country.

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

But two-time Wimbledon champion Murray rejected a £1.5m offer to play friendly matches in Saudi Arabia over human rights concerns. When asked if he would follow in the footsteps of these golfers and accept a “bag full of money” to play on a different circuit, he was unequivocally against the idea.

“They did, they organized an event in Saudi Arabia a few years ago and offered me to play there,” he said. “I know several other guys from the tour were offered to play there. I don’t think the field of players it was was what they expected. And I personally wouldn’t play there.”

Murray’s comments came on the eve of Wimbledon, where he hopes to make an impact after several years frustrated by injury.

He appears to have recovered from the abdominal problem that hampered his preparations for the past two weeks, and will open his campaign on center court on Monday against Australian James Duckworth.

Andy Murray Wimbledon Ivan Lendl - GETTY IMAGES

Andy Murray Wimbledon Ivan Lendl – GETTY IMAGES

His coach and eight-time champion, Ivan Lendl, was by his side during practice at the All England Club last week.

Lendl was part of Murray’s team during his most successful period, including all three of his major wins. They teamed up again in March in a last-ditch effort to reinvigorate Murray’s career, which was hampered by a hip injury that kept him sidelined for extended periods between 2017 and 2020 and forced him to undergo resurfacing surgery.

Lendl’s enduring belief in Murray was a boost to his game, he said, seeing him defeat world number 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas and reach the final in Stuttgart earlier this month. “I showed a few weeks ago that I still had a good shoe in me,” he said. “I know tennis is 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. There aren’t a lot of coaches, people there. out they’ve made during this last period, and he has. It definitely helps me.”

During those years in the tennis desert, Murray revealed that several coaches turned down offers to work with him – a sore point he uses as motivation. “It didn’t hurt me. In many ways, it’s been a motivation. [I] was rejected by many coaches. This was obviously difficult to deal with. That’s also why I’m grateful that Ivan has come back to work with me and help me try to achieve what I want to achieve.”

Djokovic uses US Open ban as Wimbledon motivation

Meanwhile, reigning champion Novak Djokovic said he was using the fact that he wasn’t allowed to play at the US Open – because he wasn’t vaccinated – as extra motivation for Wimbledon.

Currently, US law states that no unvaccinated person can enter the country, and Djokovic said on Saturday that he had no intention of changing his vaccination status. That means Wimbledon could be your last chance to win a major tournament this year.

“Yes, of course, I’m aware of that. That’s extra motivation to do well here,” he said. “I hope I can do a very good tournament, like I did in the last three editions. Then I just have to wait and see. I would love to go to the United States. But as of today, that’s not possible. There’s not much I can do anymore I mean, it’s up to the US government to decide whether or not to allow unvaccinated people into the country.”

Seed Djokovic is chasing his fourth straight All England Club title this year. He will face some tough competition from Rafael Nadal, who has confirmed he is waking up pain-free after undergoing radiofrequency ablation treatment on his chronically injured foot earlier this month.

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

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