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Andy Murray: Let women play five sets for equal pay

Picture: Getty

Picture: Getty

  • by ELEANOR CROOKS
 

Andy Murray believes women should play best-of-five-set matches to justify equal prize money at the grand slams.

Although there seems no prospect of any of the slams taking a step back after the hard fight for equality, it is an issue that continues to rumble on.

It hit the headlines last year at Wimbledon when French player Gilles Simon argued the women’s game was not as entertaining as the men’s, and he added: “It’s not only my point of view, it’s the point of view of everybody in the locker room.”

Murray does not think it is about entertainment but about fairness and, for him, that means women playing the same format as men.

Talking to the New York Times, the Scot said: “It isn’t about it being inferior. As I see them, they’re two different sports. It’s not like the 100 metres at the Olympics, not because they’re not running the same speed as the men. It’s just because we play five sets. I’m not saying the men work harder than the women, but, if you have to train to play five sets, it’s a longer distance. It’s like someone training to be a 400m runner and someone training to be a 600m runner.

“I think the women should play best-of-five sets. I don’t see why they couldn’t do it.

“It would mean the days in the slams are a little bit longer. And maybe it doesn’t have to be from the first rounds. I think either the men go three sets or the women go five sets. I think that’s more what the guys tend to complain about, rather than the equal prize-money itself.”

There is another debate about whether the men’s game is now too physically punishing. The US Open, where defending champion Murray was due to play his fourth-round match against Denis Istomin in the early hours of this morning, is the only one of the slams that features a tie-break in the fifth set.

A lot of people think that should be the norm, while there is another group, including Martina Navratilova, who believe the men would be better off playing best-of-three sets, as they do at every other tournament apart from the Davis Cup.

Murray said: “I’ve always played five sets at the slams. It’s what makes them different. I would rather want the five-set rule for the men and the women. They did it before. They used to do it in finals, I think in the Tour finals.

“Steffi Graf and Navratilova and those players were unbelievable over five sets, and in great shape. So it’s not that, that isn’t the issue.”

The final of the end-of-season WTA Tour Championships was a best-of-five set match between 1984 and 1998 before reverting to best-of-three. Only three matches went the distance, with Monica Seles beating Gabriela Sabatini in 1990 and Graf winning five-setters in 1995 and 1996.

Murray, meanwhile, has put himself forward to play on all three days in Great Britain’s Davis Cup World Group play-off against Croatia next week.

The Scot is set to play his first Davis Cup tie in two years after being named in the British team with Dan Evans, James Ward and Colin Fleming. He is likely to partner Fleming in the doubles.

Captain Leon Smith said: “We are delighted to be sending our strongest team to Umag in what will be a very tough tie. Croatia are former winners and ranked No 11 in the world but we can upset the odds.”

Croatia named an understrength team as No 1 Marin Cilic has been off the tour since Wimbledon, while Ivo Karlovic retired from Davis Cup last year.

World No 38 Ivan Dodig will lead the Croatia team.

 

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