Drop-shots against hurt player get Murray booed

Andy Murray

Scot ruthlessly exploits Frenchman's injury - is this new best friend David Haye's influence?

BY Sophie Taylor LAST UPDATED AT 10:26 ON Fri 15 Apr 2011

Playing drop-shots against your opponent because he or she is either old or injured is considered pretty unsporting at the local tennis courts. But is it okay at professional level? According to the crowd at the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday, the answer is: "No". According to Andy Murray, in ruthless form against Frenchman Gilles Simon, the answer is: "Yes, why not?"

Simon injured his ankle just before the end of the first set and spent the rest of the match with it heavily strapped.

Murray used the opportunity to employ several drop shots, forcing the Frenchman to sprint to the net in his discomfort. While it worked for Murray - he went on to win 6-3, 6-3 - it infuriated the spectators who booed the Scot every time he hit the ball short.

Murray refused to give an on-court interview afterwards but said later: "The more the booing happened, the more I wanted to keep using it, because it worked.

"I wasn't bothered at all. I was doing what I had to do to win the match as quickly and efficiently as possible. It worked... I know every single player on the Tour would have done the same thing."

As the Independent tennis correspondent Paul Newman wrote
today: "It was a wonder that Murray was not pelted with foie gras and caviar from the dining terrace that overlooks the court... It could be safe to assume that the world No 4 will not be taking his holidays in the principality in the near future."

It is not the first time Murray has been booed by the Monte Carlo crowd. Last year it was for losing not winning, when he went out too easily in their view against Philipp Kohlschreiber in his first match.

Most tennis commentators appear to be taking Murray's side this morning. The Mail admired his "ruthless" spirit, the Sun called the Monte Carlo tennis fans "boo boys" while the Independent praised him for "sensibly taking advantage" of Simon's handicap.

Murray now faces Portuguese qualifier Federico Gil in the last eight before a potential semi-final encounter with Rafael Nadal.

So where did Murray get his new ruthless streak, that's enabled him to come back from a miserable run of form in north America? It seems it could be the influence of new best friend David Haye, the heavyweight boxing champion.

"Seeing David Haye train in Miami was very important and he's at the top of his sport," Murray told reporters before the Gilles Simon match. "He told me I had beaten all the best players in the world and I had to trust myself and believe.

"I have been keeping in touch with him and spoke and texted before the Stepanek match [Murray beat the Czech 6-1 6-4] and I like the boxer's mentality. When I move well on court, I feel like I can be the best player in the world." · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.