ATP

Murray says Osaka must 'deal with' hecklers

By Sports Desk March 14, 2022

Andy Murray has expressed his sympathy for Naomi Osaka over the abuse she was subjected to at Indian Wells but says athletes must deal with it.

Osaka was reduced to tears as she crashed out of the Indian Wells Open with a 6-0 6-4 third-round defeat to 21st seed Veronika Kudermetova on Saturday.

A member of the crowd could be heard shouting "Naomi, you suck" after the four-time grand slam champion had been broken in the first game of the match.

Osaka approached the chair umpire to report the incident and held further discussions with the court supervisor after being insulted again.

Murray says there is no place for such conduct, but believes players must be able to ignore it.

He said: “It's a difficult one. I've often thought watching certain sports, I wouldn't say I've often seen it loads in tennis … but if I watch a football or a soccer match and a player's going to take throw-in or a corner kick and the crowd are just hurling insults at those individuals.

"I always think, how is that allowed? Like, you can't do that. If you're doing that to someone when you're walking down the street or in any other sort of work environment, that's obviously not tolerated.

"I've played in certain atmospheres as well myself in tennis, like Davis Cup atmospheres, away from home, especially where the atmosphere's intense, and sometimes things are said and it's not that comfortable.

"The people that come to watch, you want them to be there and supporting the players and not making it more difficult for them. I don't know, but it's also something that's always just kind of been part of sports as well."

He added: "If you go and watch a basketball match, for example, and a player's taking free throws, I would say like almost every basketball match I've been to one of the players has been heckled by the crowd as well

"While it's wrong for those individuals to be doing it, the athletes obviously have to kind of be used to that as well or be able to deal with that too, even though it's not pleasant.

"I feel for Naomi, that obviously it upset her a lot, but it’s always been something that's been part of sport, I guess, as well.

"You have to be prepared for that in some ways and be able to tolerate it because it does happen regularly across all sports."

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