(Reuters) - Seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander came under fire from Nick Kyrgios on Monday after the Swede suggested Andy Murray should consider whether he has the right to accept wild cards into majors at the expense of emerging young players.
Swede Wilander’s comments came after three-time Grand Slam champion Murray’s first-round defeat by Stan Wawrinka at the French Open on Sunday in which he won only six games.
It was former world number one Murray’s joint-worst loss at a Grand Slam and came on his return to the French Open after a three-year absence, during which he has had two hip surgeries.
“I keep getting a little disappointed, is it his right to be out there doing that? I did it and I shouldn’t have, it was the biggest mistake I did in my career,” Wilander told Eurosport.
“I think Murray needs to stop thinking of himself and start thinking about who he was. Does he have a right to be out there taking wild cards from the young players?”
Australian Kyrgios, who has skipped the French Open because of the coronavirus pandemic, quickly jumped to the defence of the 33-year-old British player on Twitter.
“Just read what Wilander said about @andy_murray... shut up Mats, no one cares. Muzz, just know that however long you stay, we all appreciate and enjoy your tennis and banter.
“Also I’ve never watched a point of Mats Wilander.”
Murray returned to singles action last year and won the title in Antwerp where he beat Wawrinka, a result that raised hopes he could again challenge at the top.
However, the three-time Grand Slam winner looked a pale shadow of himself on Sunday and admitted after the match that he would have a good hard think about his game.
“It’s tough to quit, for sure. By giving us all hope by playing, it’s just not right,” Wilander said. “I love the fact that he is back and trying.
“Hopefully he’ll figure out why he’s doing it.”
Wilander’s Eurosport colleague Alex Corretja, a former coach of Murray, said he respected Wilander’s opinion but said Murray needs to be given a chance to enjoy the rest of his career.
“My advice is to retire one year too late rather than one year too early,” Spaniard Corretja said. “I believe that once the indoors season starts he will feel much better.”
Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru and Martyn Herman in London; Editing by Tomasz Janowski
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