Andy Murray puts family first as he prepares to open European Open bid

Andy Murray at  the media day at the European Open.
Andy Murray at the media day at the European Open.
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Andy Murray has explained why his appearance at the European Open in Antwerp, where he has never played before, makes sense for one very special reason.

Murray’s wife Kim is expecting their third child soon, and after the 2016 Australian Open – which he spent nervously waiting to return to Britain in case his eldest daughter, Sophia, arrived early – he decided to be nearer home this time.

“The main reason is that it’s the closest tournament to home for me, and my wife is quite pregnant right now,” said Murray in his first interview at Antwerp’s Lotto Arena. “The last time I was in that situation I found myself in Australia and I didn’t want to be in that position again.”

Murray, playing his first ATP tournament in Europe for 16 months, will open his campaign today against Belgian wild card, world No 158 Kimmer Coppejans.

Murray is now No 243 in the world after four wins in China in recent weeks, but is likely to call a halt to his season after this tournament – with the exception of the Davis Cup in late November.

Dan Evans, pictured, the player who now occupies the British No 1 spot once held by Murray, beat Bernard Tomic to progress through to the second round of the Intrum Stockholm Open.

Eighth seed Evans celebrated becoming the top UK player yesterday by securing victory in three sets, prevailing 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. Australian Tomic fought back after going a set down, winning the second set comfortably in 33 minutes to take the match to a decisive set.

In the end, the world No 43 from Great Britain proved too good, with Tomic saving two match points before Evans saw out the contest in an hour and 54 minutes.

Evans is set to face Norway’s Casper Ruud or Serb Filip Krajinovic in the second round, with third seed Taylor Fritz a potential quarter-final opponent.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer has told the audience at an exhibition match in Japan that he intends to participate in next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Technically, Federer is not eligible for the Olympics, given that he has not appeared in the Davis Cup since 2015. But there is room for discretion here, and, if anyone can expect to be given special dispensation, it is surely the world’s most popular player.

Federer, a four-time Olympian, said: “At the end of the day my heart decided I would love to play at the Olympic Games again.”

Federer made the announcement in Tokyo during at an exhibition event for his Japanese uniform supplier. Federer will turn 39 shortly after the Olympic tournament. He had previously planned his schedule up to Wimbledon, which ends two weeks before the Tokyo Games. He will need a wild-card exemption because he has not played Davis Cup games to be eligible.

Federer won doubles gold for Switzerland with Stan Wawrinka at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and silver in singles at the 2012 London Games at Wimbledon.

He missed the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics with an injury.