Tennis: Murray defends Nalbandian for Queen's rant

By Paul Newman

David Nalbandian's fan club has probably been short of new members in recent days, but Andy Murray expressed some sympathy for the 30-year-old Argentine yesterday.

Murray said officials at Queen's Club had been wrong to organise an on-court interview with Nalbandian immediately after he had been defaulted from Monday's Aegon Championships final for injuring a line judge when he kicked and broke an advertising hoarding.

Nalbandian, who was still clearly upset, made criticisms of the Association of Tennis Professionals in his interview, which did not help his cause.

"They should have taken him off the court and protected him,'' Murray said. "He ended up saying things that he probably didn't mean to say, but you've got to protect the players. He was very angry. You could see clearly that he was still arguing. He was shaking his head when he was walking up [to the microphone] and as soon as he said 'but' they should have taken the microphone away.

"In any other sport, if someone flips out or snaps, you don't stick a microphone in their face and try and get them to speak. You're going to say something you don't really mean or regret. I think he made a mistake, but he shouldn't have been allowed to talk.

I think they should have taken him off the court.''

Murray, who was talking after playing an exhibition match at The Boodles event at Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire, was asked if he could imagine being that angry before on court.

"I've never felt like putting my foot through something, but it happens,'' Murray said. "He's been on the tour a long time. He just got very angry and got put in a very difficult situation when he was still clearly very upset. But I personally wouldn't do that. Well, I hope I wouldn't do it.''

Having lost in his first match at Queen's Club last week, Murray has been anxious to get some more time on court before Wimbledon starts on Monday. His exhibition match yesterday was against Janko Tipsarevic, who won 6-7, 6-4, 10-7 (champions' tie-break). The genteel surroundings - the biggest stir came when a swarm of bees tried to settle in one of the temporary stands - were very different to what Murray will experience next week, but he was happy to have had the opportunity to hone his grass-court game.

The world No 4, who will play Novak Djokovic at Stoke Park today, said he had been hitting the ball well in practice. "I'm moving much better than I did at Queen's a week ago,'' he said. "I've not been slipping around as much. That's going to be important going into Wimbledon.''

Murray said he did not feel under any extra pressure with his home Grand Slam tournament only days away. "The first time I played at Wimbledon, there was no pressure to do well,'' he said.

"I was 18 years old and I wasn't expected to do that well. Once I started to get to 21, 22 years old, it's fairly challenging because the expectations rise and you are putting more pressure on yourself, but I'm probably more used to it now than I was a few years ago.''

- THE INDEPENDENT

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