Murray ‘sure deserves’ French wildcard

May 17, 2021
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    Andy Murray and Novak DjokovicAndy Murray (right) practised with world number one Novak Djokovic (left) in Rome this week

    Andy Murray "sure deserves" a wildcard for the French Open, tournament director Guy Forget says.

    Former world number one Murray has entered qualifying for the Grand Slam because his ranking is not high enough to gain direct entry following injury.

    Forget watched the Scot practise with Novak Djokovic in Rome this week and will decide whether to award him a wildcard after talking to him.

    Organisers also announced plans to have more fans attending the last five days.

    The centre court at Roland Garros will be allowed to have 5,000 spectators from 9 June but before that the limit will be 1,000 spectators on any one court with a maximum of just over 5,000 allowed into the grounds.

    Fans will need to show a negative Covid test or a vaccine certificate to enter.

    The prize money pot for the Grand Slam, which starts on 30 May, will fall slightly to 34m euros (£29m) from 38m euros in 2020.

    Omens look good for Murray wildcard

    Murray, who reached the French Open final in 2016, will be told next week whether he has a wildcard into the main draw and the Scot says "there'll be no hard feelings" if he does not get one.

    "I don't want to make a big deal about this," he told BBC Sport after winning his doubles opener alongside fellow Briton Liam Broady in Rome on Wednesday.

    "It's the French Open's decision what they want to do – I'd love the opportunity to play there but I also respect they have lots of good players, lots of players ranked between 120 and 160, and I haven't been fit for the last three or four months.

    "I appreciate for them they would want to see me play matches. I've done all the training and physically I'm fit but it is different playing matches and that's where I obviously need to prove myself."

    Murray has entered qualifying at Roland Garros but hopes to prove his fitness after a groin injury by playing in the doubles in Rome and in singles in Geneva or Lyon next week.

    The omens look good for him.

    "Andy has tried his best to come back, and his knowledge and experience is so big that if he feels physically fit, and he can afford to play a few matches before Roland Garros, I believe that he can beat probably half of the people in the main draw," said Forget, a former world number four.

    "Andy's not going to pretend to play a tournament if he doesn't feel he can compete with the best guys.

    "You can give me all the wildcards you want, I will never ever play a Grand Slam or any other tournament again because I will get killed and I will feel embarrassed to be on the court, and Andy doesn't play for that.

    "I believe that if he asks for one, it is because he believes he can perform and win a few matches."

    Djokovic said after practising with Murray this week that the 33-year-old Scot had "played very well".

    More fans, less money – how does this year's event look?

    French Open crowd for women's final in 2020A crowd of 1,000 watched last year's French Open women's final between Iga Swiatek and Sofia Kenin

    Although prize money is falling slightly, it will remain the same for qualifying, the first two rounds of the singles and the wheelchair events.

    The mixed doubles event will return, having been cancelled in 2020, although it will feature 16 teams rather than the usual 32.

    There will be night sessions for the first time at the French Open, but most of these will be behind closed doors because of a 21:00 (20:00 BST) curfew in place for the first 10 days of the championships. Only one – on Wednesday 9 June – will be open to fans.

    It will be only seven months after the postponed 2020 event that this year's edition is taking place.

    Last year Rafael Nadal won the men's singles title – his 13th at Roland Garros – while Polish teenager Iga Swiatek won her first Grand Slam title in front of a crowd of 1,000 fans, which was the maximum permitted at the time.

    This year's championships were pushed back a week in the hope of being able to admit more fans, something which will now happen in time for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals of the singles events.

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