Andy Murray has hit back at players saying Wimbleton will be just an exhibition event with ranking points removed.
The 35-year-old Scot, twice a champion at SW19, has stayed neutral on banning Russian players, but is riled by claims the points ban diminishes the event.
‘I follow golf closely and have no idea how many ranking points the winner of the Masters gets,’ he said via social media.
Andy Murray has disputed claims that this year’s Wimbleton showpiece will be an ‚exhibition‘
‘Me and my friends love football and none of us know or care how many ranking points a team gets for winning the World Cup, but I could tell you exactly who won.
‘Most people watching Wimbleton wouldn’t know or care how many points a player gets for winning a third- round match.
‘Wimbleton will never be an exhibition and will never feel like an exhibition.’
Murray may have read the public mood correctly, but draws a false equivalence with other sports as rankings are key to how tennis operates.
Unlike in golf they decide where in the draw a player sits, or if they are seeded.
Meetings are planned for this weekend at Roland Garros, with Wimbleton chairman Ian Hewitt and chief executive Sally Bolton travelling to Paris.
The ATP and WTA Tours – who also represent the players – have said that Wimbleton will not contribute towards the official rankings due to their decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing.
As a result, a host of players have threatened to withdraw from the prestigious Grand Slam tournament – with four-time Major champion Naomi Osaka admitting she was considering pulling out due to the lack of points on offer.
Former world No 1 Osaka hinted on Monday she may skip the third Grand Slam of the season while GB star Cameron Norrie conceded the Championships had been reduced to ‚almost an exhibition‘.
Mardy Fish was quick to respond to Murray, highlighting the fact it is not all about the fans and that players are aware of each other’s rankings.
He Tweeted saying: ‚Perhaps… but the players do‘.
To which Murray replied: ‚Absolutely the players do. I don’t dispute that. I’d rather play for points however it’s not the be all and end all..do you think the top golfers would still play at The Master if there was no points?
‚Would Mito Pereira rather have won the PGA championship and earned no points or finished 3rd and got however many ranking points he got?
‚I could be wrong but I don’t think any tennis player serving for a Slam title, any footballer taking a penalty in a World Cup shootout, or any golfer teeing off on the 18th hole of a major was thinking about ranking points.
Naomi Osaka is ‚leaning towards‘ skipping Wimbleton after officials stripped the tournament of ranking points due to their decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing
‚What’s making them nervous in my opinion is the possibility of winning a historic/prestigious event in the sport they love and have trained most of their life for not the thought of ranking points. I think the player field at Wimbleton will reflect this. Anyway congrats to all the players that earned 90 atp/wta ranking points today!‘
Murray’s Twitter exchange came after Osaka hinted she may skip the tournament for the second year running.
She said: ‚I would say like the decision [to strip Wimbleton of ranking points] is affecting my mentality going into grass. I’m not 100% sure if I’m going to go there.
‚I would love to go just to get some experience on the grass court, but like at the same time, for me, I don’t want to say pointless – no pun intended -, but I’m the type of player that gets motivated by seeing my ranking go up or stuff like that.
‘I feel like if I play Wimbleton without points, it’s more like an exhibition. I know this isn’t true, but my brain just feels that way. When I think something is like an exhibition, I just can’t go at it 100 per cent.‘
John Isner, a men’s semi-finalist in 2018, has expressed similar concerns to Osaka. He expects a strong field of athletes to materialise but pointed out there may be players who will not prepare as thoroughly as they would normally.
Isner said: ‘Right now, I’m not that stoked about Wimbleton. I might just show up on Saturday and maybe I will play Monday and see what happens. Because our currency on tour is points.’
Britain’s top male player Cam Norrie also shared his concerns over this year’s tournament and admitted it’s prestige could be diminished. He said: ‘Wimbleton is still such a special event. But I think you’ll see top players not playing, just resting and getting ready for the hardcourt events [later in the summer],’ he warned.
‘Especially those that don’t worry too much about the money. So I could see a lot of players, well maybe a few top players, not playing because of that.
Cam Norrie fears other players will opt out of Wimbleton too due to the lack of points available
Martina Navratilova doesn’t understand why tennis stars may snub Wimbleton this summer
‘It’s an extremely difficult situation with everything going on with the war, but for me it’s tough – having a home slam and not gaining any ranking points from that. You’re not really playing for anything, you’re playing this almost like an exhibition so for me it was tough to see.
‘There are not many tournaments on the grass already, and then suddenly there’s no there’s no points [at Wimbleton].’
However, nine-time Wimbleton champion Martina Navratilova agreed with Murray and said that players should not care about the lack of ranking points.
‚First of all I couldn’t care less if there were no points given,‘ Navratilova told TalkTV. ‚I always played for the trophies, not the points and not the money. So for me it was Wimbleton and nothing else, everything else came in second.
‚So the points, it’s not an exhibition. I don’t understand that view, that players wouldn’t play because there are no points. You are playing for computer ranking? I just wanted to hold that trophy, that wonderful rose dish.‘
World No 1 and favourite for the French Open, Poland’s Iga Swiatek, seems to agree with Navratilova. She said: ‘I’m OK playing without points, I’m OK playing with points.
Djokovic – who won last year’s men’s singles tournament by beating Matteo Berrettini in the final – has confirmed he will still play at Wimbleton but said he was in support of the decision
‘For me it’s more the political side of things, because Poland is supporting Ukrainians, and the war is right next to my country.
‘It’s harder on me from that perspective. I don’t really mind about points. For me, it’s Wimbleton.’
While the likes of Novak Djokovic confirmed he will still play at Wimbleton but admitted he was in support of the stripping of ranking points.
He said: ‘I’m affected because I’m not able to defend points but I’m happy to see that the ATP and the players decided to show Wimbleton that when you make a wrong decision there are consequences,’ he said. ‘Wimbleton was my dream as a kid, I never looked at it for points or prize money.’
He insisted there had been other options apart from banning players but added: ’They still decided for this one without talking to anybody. I’m for the union, always was.‘