CINCINNATI: Andy Murray endorsed the Tuesday decision of the US Open to award a wild card to Juan Martin del Potro, who gave the Scot a severe weekend test in the Olympic tennis final.
“You give wild cards to deserving players,” the Rio gold medallist said as he prepared to take his place as top seed at the ATP-WTA Cincinnati Masters. “Juan Martin deserves to be in the slams.
“If he had not been injured (wrist operations) he’d be comfortably seeded. He deserves that wild card for sure.
“He draws good crowds and will be an asset to the tournament for sure,” he said of Argentina’s silver medallist and 2009 US Open champion.
Double Olympic winner Murray took the opportunity to lightly scold his fellow players — some of whom skipped the Olympics due to scheduling problems or perceived fears of the Zika virus.
“Every Olympics I’ve been to, I’ve loved it,” said the world number two. “I’ve had amazing experiences.
“Unfortunately some players did not see it that way. I hope they regret the decision not to go and hopefully next time we have a good turnout again — like we had in London (2012).
“Perhaps the event should be just a few days longer, that would have helped. Fans would have enjoyed watching major men’s players in the mixed doubles, that doesn’t happen anywhere else.
“Once every four years it’s huge for tennis to be a part of the Olympics. It’s a great event to showcase our sport to the whole world.”
On another rainy day, match play moved at a slow pace.
A pair of French seeds blew through with opening victories as number nine Gael Monfils overcame Rio travel fatigue to dispatch Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-4. His 13th-seeded compatriot Richard Gasquet, who missed the Games with an abdominal injury, found his form over countryman Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 6-1.
There was a win for Belgian 11th seed David Goffin over Nicoloz Basilashvili 7-5, 6-3 while Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny schooled US teen Taylor Fritz 6-1, 6-3
Two Australians advanced: Bernard Tomic beat Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-3; John Millman had more of a struggle before overcoming Malek Jaziri 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.
On the women’s side, France’s Alize Cornet beat Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 while Tsvetana Pironkova defeated Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 6-1.
First into the third round was Czech 15th seed Karolina Pliskova, a winner against Latvian Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 6-1.