Andy Murray: A Voice Of Reason In Troubled Times

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Andy Murray makes his return to competitive tennis today in the Schroders Battle of the Brits. It’s an exhibition tournament Murray’s older Jamie organized and the three-time Grand Slam champion will be front and center as he plays his first match against Liam Broady on Tuesday. British No. 1 Dan Evans, ranked 28th, and No. 44 Kyle Edmund are also entered in the tournament which runs through Sunday at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, England.

During a pre-tournament press conference on Monday, the 129th-ranked Murray refrained from criticizing his friend and long-time rival, World No. 1 Novak Djokovicin the wake of controversy surrounding the abandonment of the Adria Tour final in Zadar, Croatia on Sunday that followed the announcement of World No. 19 Grigor Dimitrov testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. Dimitrov competed during the first weekend of the Adria Tour in Belgrade and played one match in Zadar before withdrawing Saturday. Characteristic of both sites was a lack of social distancing among both fans and players and a perceived lack of health and safety precautions. Murray said: “Once you start having mass gatherings with people coming in from all sorts of countries, it’s a recipe for it to kick off. 

“So it’s kind of a lesson for all of us – if we weren’t already – to take this extremely seriously, and to have as many safety measures in place as possible.”

Murray suggested that last weekend’s events in the Balkans could weigh in his decision to fly to New York for August’s US Open if there are further outbreaks of the coronavirus virus in the U.S or smugness shown by other players.

“Once you start to bring international travel into it, with players and team members from all different parts of the world coming in,” Murray said, “you need to make sure you’re taking all the correct measures, safety measures, all the precautions that you can, to try to avoid a situation like they got into over there.

Battle of Brits taking precautions

Amid the Adria Tour kerfuffle, the Battle of the Brits will be focused on health and safety and there are plenty of precautions being imposed as competitive tennis returns in the United Kingdom. Chiefly, there will be no fans attending at Roehampton, but plenty of hand sanitizer available for players to use. There will be temperature checks and social distancing measures will be in place among the competitors. Expect a completely different atmosphere than exercised by the Adria Tour in Belgrade and Zadar the past two weekends.

The Schroders Battle of the Brits will be televised in the UK on Amazon Prime, in Europe on Eurosport and in the U.S. via Tennis Channel.

What were they thinking?

• Christopher Clarey, New York Times tennis correspondent: “The Adria Tour situation means a lot of things but above all it’s a reminder that tennis and all sports need to return to action responsibly and with an excess of caution. Not just to keep athletes safe but to send the right and smart signals that help keep others’ safe.”

• David Law, co-host, The Tennis Podcast: “The fact that Novak Djokovic has said nothing in the last 24 hours bothers me immensely. He is the head of the (ATP) Player Council, he is the World No. 1. From what I understand, he is the organizer of this tour, the inspiration behind it. He has brought all of these people together and they have flagrantly disregarded all social distancing advice on the understand that everything will be fine. It isn’t fine. So, you’ve got some explaining to do right there. To have radio silence for 24 hours is really disturbing to me. I hope when (Novak) does speak – and it will probably be more to his fans than to the media – I hope he gets this right and understands the gravity of the situation. He needs to send a message that this was the wrong thing to be doing. Let’s hope all of these people make a recovery and that we don’t see a spike all the way through the region.”

With Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and – now – Viktor Troicki all testing positive for the Covid-19 virus after playing in the Adria Tour, the new episode of The Tennis Podcast discusses “the inevitability and seriousness of the situation, Novak Djokovic’s role and responsibility in all this, and the possible implications for the sport.”

The Way Back Machine – U.S. Davis Cup – 1968

Pushing for progress: Donald Dell on why the U.S. chose to host a Davis Cup tie in Richmond, Va., Arthur Ashe’s hometown.

What they’re photographing

Radka Leitmeritz, renowned fashion photographer who fell in love with tennis: “I love ‘shooter’ Federer, he’s a ballet dancer. He’s so perfect. The way he plays is so photogenic.”

Wimbledon / Sometimes, grass courts come in all shapes and sizes.

What they’re writing

In their weekly “Rally“ column, Tennis.com’s Steve Tignor and Joel Drucker discuss Sunday’s troubling day in tennis following the positive Covid-19 test revealed by Grigor Dimitrov, after he competed in Adria Tour events in Belgrade, Serbia and Zadar, Croatia, and how it may affect sport going forward.

What they’re sharing on social media

Christopher Clarey / You cannot be serious …

Garbiñe Muguruza / Making Stan the Man sweat for it!

Longest match in tennis history / Isner-Mahut, Wimbledon – 2010