Less than a fortnight after Andy Murray upset tournament organisers in Marseilles with his late withdrawal, the title sponsors at the Barclays Dubai Championships yesterday expressed disappointment with the Scot's remarks following his second-round Dubai defeat by Janko Tipsarevic.
Murray said he had used the match to test out a more attacking strategy, saying he wanted to be in the best shape for next month's Masters tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami. "I would have liked to have won, but it's not the end of the world," he said. "If it was a Slam or something, my tactics and my game style would have been a bit different."
Dubai is a "World Tour 500" event, the next level down from a Masters, though it offers good prize-money and is said to pay big appearance fees. Dubai Duty Free, the owners and organisers, go out of their way to look after the players. Murray and Novak Djokovic were put up in the Burj Al Arab, which bills itself as the world's most luxurious hotel.
Colm McLoughlin, managing director of Dubai Duty Free, said that Murray had shown "full respect" for the event. "The tournament has a very good relationship with Andy," he said. "We know Andy thinks very highly of the tournament."
The title sponsors, however, were less impressed. John Beddington, Barclays' tennis consultant, said: "We are disappointed he lost because we felt he had a good chance and we are also disappointed that he made remarks that were not really necessary. While we appreciate that the top players value Grand Slams above others because of the points and prestige, this is one of the top events at '500' level on the ATP Tour. Dubai Duty Free looked after him very well. If he is going to be testing out new strategies then a match of this significance was probably not the place to do it."
After beating Ivan Ljubicic in the quarter- finals, Djokovic was asked whether he would use a tournament to experiment. "You cannot just go out there and practise," he said. "You carry certain responsibility when you are top five, top 10 in the world."