Coronavirus: Murray jokes with Nadal not to be a 'bad loser' and urges patience for tennis return

By Sports Desk April 28, 2020

Andy Murray joked Rafael Nadal should not be a "bad loser" after handing him a pasting at the Madrid Open Virtual Pro before urging patience for the real tennis tours to return.

Murray and Nadal had each come through their virtual openers on Monday but it was the Briton who came out on top in their duel, dropping just one point in a 3-0 win.

After their online contest, Murray gave a fist pump to the camera while Nadal gave a quick thumbs up before hastily logging off.

In a post-match interview, Murray said: "If you speak to Rafa, tell him not to be such a bad loser next time!"

On his chances of winning the whole thing, he added: "I think I have a chance, for sure."

Murray later defeated Denis Shapavolov to reach the quarter-finals unbeaten, while Nadal suffered another defeat to Benoit Paire.

Three-time grand slam winner Murray was later quizzed about the challenges facing global sports amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Tennis has been heavily affected with the ATP and WTA Tours postponed until at least mid-July, while Wimbledon was cancelled for 2020 and the French Open rescheduled for September.

Some have predicted that neither tour will recommence this year and Murray says public health and the return of normal day-to-day activities must take precedence over sport's return.

"I'm sure all tennis players want to get back to competing and playing as soon as possible. But right now that is not the most important thing," Murray said.

"First of all, we want to get our normal lives back, just being able to go out, see friends, go to restaurants and have your normal freedoms. 

"And then hopefully over time things will start to allow for travelling and sport will be able to go back to normal as well. But I don't see that happening very soon. 

"The first thing is to try and find a way to stop the virus spreading and once we've done that we'll be able to do more and more normal things rather than thinking about competing in sport. 

"A lot of people want to watch sport again, so obviously the athletes and the players want to be competing. 

"It's entertaining and it's something that lots of people enjoy. When you don't get to see it for a while, people realise how much they love playing and watching it.

"But just because it's difficult not to have sport just now doesn't mean we have to speed things up. 

"Let's just focus on getting our normal lives back first and hopefully then all of the countries can sort out the virus properly. 

"I'm obviously no expert on this but I assume the danger is when you go back to trying to do things too quickly like avoiding social distancing and then if we get back to international travel, then maybe there could be a second wave of infections and that maybe that would slow everything down again. 

"That's not what anyone wants. Let's just try and get things back to normal first and then we can think about playing sport again."

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    Birthday girl Simona Halep described her French Open first-round victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo as "the perfect present".

    Fresh from winning the Internazionali d'Italia in Rome, Halep arrived in Paris as favourite and top seed for the final grand slam of the year.

    And she marked her 29th birthday with a 6-4 6-0 triumph under the new roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

    "The perfect present was that I won, of course," said the 2018 champion. "It was a really special day playing on Roland Garros on my birthday, so it's going to be pretty unique maybe forever.

    "I cannot celebrate much, because I have to stay in the room, so I will have a bottle of water.

    "I will speak with my very close ones and loved ones. Just that. Nothing special. After the tournament, I will [celebrate properly]."

    While Halep, who now faces compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu, had the luxury of an enclosed arena the cold weather outside caused issues for others on a day that saw Venus Williams make an early exit.

    AZA-BRRR-ENKA

    It was a chilly day in the French capital and few people were more bothered by the conditions than Victoria Azarenka, who donned a jacket and leggings for her match with Danka Kovinic. 

    The former world number one triumphed 6-1 6-2 but she left the court three games into the first set claiming it was "too cold", a consequence of the tournament taking place four months later than planned.

    "I think my opponent first of all slipped in the third game, so I think she was also feeling a little bit uncomfortable," said Azarenka.

    "And I just asked like when my grip is getting wet in between points, are we going to still continue to play?

    "And then [the official] told me that if I'm willing to wait a little bit longer while the drizzle stops, because the rain was supposed to increase, and I said absolutely not because I don't see a point of sitting on the court when it's eight degrees.

    "I at the same time asked my opponent if she wants to wait on the court or she wants to go off court, and she said she doesn't want to wait on the court.

    "So, I'm not going to waste my time sitting there and getting cold."

    KONTA DUMPED OUT BY GAUFF

    Coco Gauff dumped out ninth seed Johanna Konta as the 16-year-old produced a fine display.

    Gauff came through in straight sets, beating the Briton 6-3 6-3 to secure a second-round showdown with qualifier Martina Trevisan.

    It constitutes a shock premature departure for Konta, who reached the semi-finals in 2019.

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    Venus Williams declaring she is "done" with 2020 is a statement with which many will be able to identify.

    The American veteran, a 2002 finalist at this slam, was beaten 6-4 6-4 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who will now face Azarenka.

    Asked if she had any plays to play again this year, the 40-year-old replied: "I'm going home from here. I'm done. If there is somewhere to play, I won't be there."

    One player who will have at least one more match this year is Eugenie Bouchard, who overcame Anna Kalinskaya 6-4 6-4.

  • French Open 2020: Murray suffers chastening defeat to Wawrinka on return to Roland Garros French Open 2020: Murray suffers chastening defeat to Wawrinka on return to Roland Garros

    Andy Murray tasted defeat in his first match at the French Open in three years, going down in straight sets to Stan Wawrinka on the opening day of action at Roland Garros.

    Competing in just his third grand slam singles match since the 2019 Australian Open due to hip surgery and the coronavirus pandemic, Murray could not live with the 2015 winner.

    Wawrinka held serve throughout to prevail 6-1 6-3 6-2 in a time of one hour and 37 minutes as he set up a meeting with Dominik Koepfer in the second round.

    Elsewhere on Sunday, Italian teenager Jannik Sinner eliminated 11th seed David Goffin and British number one Dan Evans lost to Kei Nishikori in five sets.


    Lethargic Murray falls at first hurdle

    Grand slam winners Murray and Wawrinka served up a treat when they met in the semi-finals here in 2017, but there was far less drama involved in this latest clash.

    Wildcard entrant Murray lacked any sort of spark and looked subdued for the duration of the one-sided match as he failed to break his opponent's service game.

    Wawrinka, who has himself slipped down the rankings, broke Murray in the third, fifth and seventh games as he eased into a one-set lead.

    It was a similar case in the second set, with the Swiss continuing to dominate and earning an all-important break in the sixth game to leave Murray on the ropes.

    And any hope of a fightback from Murray, as was the case in last month's five-set victory over Yoshihito Nishioka in the US Open first round, were soon ended for good.

    Murray squandered three break points in the second game of the final set and Wawrinka did not look back, seeing out the game with an ace in an easier victory that expected.


    Sinner stuns Goffin 

    Sinner caught the eye when becoming the first Italian to win the Next Gen ATP Finals 10 months ago and he is now making his mark in majors.

    The 19-year-old won 11 games in a row en route to a convincing 7-5 6-0 6-3 victory and will now take on French qualifier Benjamin Bonzi in the next round.

    "He maybe didn't feel that well on court," Sinner said in his post-match interview. "I felt well. I have just been trying to be focused."

     

    Nishikori sees off Evans in five sets 

    British number one Evans was seeking his first win at Roland Garros but, dealt a tough hand against former world number four Nishikori, it was a fourth first-round exit in five years.

    After a sluggish start that saw him drop the first set, Nishikori soon recovered and took a 2-1 lead in the contest, only for Evans to show good fighting spirit in the fourth set.

    Despite battling back from 0-3 in the deciding set, Evans' revival was short-lived as he went down 1-6 6-1 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-4 in three hours and 49 minutes.

    "The end result was that I lost," Evans said. "I lost another first round which is a little disappointing and now I get ready for the indoor hardcourts."

    Isner sails through, Coric falls

    World number 23 John Isner made light work of Elliot Benchetrit, holding serve throughout in a routine 6-4 6-1 6-3 victory to set up a meeting with Sebastian Korda.

    Borna Coric had less success against Norbert Gombos, though, the 24th seed exiting the tournament with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-4 defeat.

    The US Open quarter-finalist lost serve in a gruelling third game and that was a sign of things to come against his stubborn opponent.

    Gombos, who reached round three in 2017, recovered after losing the second set to get over the line and produce a big upset on an eventful opening day in Paris.

  • French Open 2020: Halep lands birthday win in chilly Paris French Open 2020: Halep lands birthday win in chilly Paris

    Simona Halep eventually warmed to her French Open task as she won her opening match on a chilly first Sunday at Roland Garros.

    Under the new roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier and on her 29th birthday, title favourite Halep stumbled through the opening stages before pulling away to beat Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4 6-0.

    From 4-2 behind in the opening set, after three consecutive breaks, Halep won 10 straight games to reach the second round of a tournament at which she won her first grand slam title two years ago.

    She landed 90 per cent of first serves in the second set, and struck 11 winners to five from her fading opponent.

    Fresh from winning the Internazionali d'Italia in Rome, Halep arrived in Paris as favourite and top seed for the final grand slam of the year.

    The second set was a stroll against Sorribes Tormo, a player who had only won one match in three previous main-draw appearances at the clay-court slam.

    Halep's early wobble may have been partly attributable to the unfamiliar conditions, with the temperature barely into double figures as the match began.

    Because the tournament has been moved back from its usual May start amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Paris will feel quite different to the players in action over the 15-day tournament.

    Romanian Halep paired a pink outfit with black leggings, and initially her tennis was as cold as the autumnal climate, but she predictably took control of matters and rolls on.

    She was serenaded to mark her birthday by former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli during a post-match interview, with Halep hoping for more to celebrate in the coming fortnight.

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    Halep took charge of this contest once she cut down the unforced errors, which blighted her performance in the opening stages. She fired 12 winners in the opening set and 11 in the quickfire second, but the error count told the story of her improvement. After racking up 15 in the first set, Halep trimmed that number to a steadier eight in the second. She was clinical on her break-point opportunities, carving out nine and taking a healthy six of those.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

    Halep – 23/23
    Sorribes Tormo – 10/16

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

    Halep – 1/0
    Sorribes Tormo – 0/2

    BREAK POINTS WON

    Halep – 6/9
    Sorribes Tormo – 2/4

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