Andy Murray gave his qualified support to David Nalbandian on Wednesday night as police continued their investigation into the Argentinian's meltdown at Queen's on Sunday.
Murray, who was speaking at The Boodles in Berkshire after losing a light Wimbledon warm-up against Janko Tipsarevic, did not condone the wild kick by Nalbandian that broke an advertising box and injured a line judge at the end of his final against Marin Cilic.
But Murray said: "I'm sure he probably thinks he made a mistake but why were they letting him speak? He was clearly angry. He snapped – which many people have done over the years. They should have taken him off the court and protected him."
Sue Barker interviewed Nalbandian on court immediately after he had been disqualified when a set up and a break down in the second set. He railed at the ATP incoherently, criticising the scheduling and the pressure to play on unsafe surfaces, while barely apologising to the official, Andrew McDougall, who was treated on site later for a minor cut to his left leg. He forfeited his £36,500 second-place prize money, was fined £8,000 and police subsequently responded to a complaint of alleged assault, although no charges have been laid.
Murray, who looked relaxed and moved freely after worries about back spasms during the French Open earlier this month, lost the champion's tie-break, 10-7, after winning the first set 7-5 and losing the second 6-4. He plays the world No1 Novak Djokovicon Thursday and declared himself fully fit for Wimbledon.
Murray, the defending Queen's champion, was watching highlights of Sunday's Queen's final while working out in the gym at Wimbledon, having lost to Nicolas Mahut in his opening match. "I looked up and I saw the match had been stopped," he said. "He ended up saying things that he probably didn't mean to say but you've got to protect the players. He was very angry – you could see clearly that he was still arguing before ... he was shaking his head when he was walking up [to Barker]. As soon as he said 'but' they should have taken the microphone away. "In any other sport, if someone flips out or snaps, you don't stick a microphone in their face and try and get them to speak. You're going to say something you don't really mean or regret.
"I've practised with him many times. I played him in my first Wimbledon. I've known him a long, long time. I don't know why he did it. I've never felt like putting my foot through something … but it happens. He's been on the tour a long time. He just got very angry and got put in a very difficult situation when he was still very upset, clearly. I personally wouldn't do that … Well, I hope I don't do it."
Nalbandian played Nicolás Almagro in the afternoon at The Boodles and was greeted with polite applause by an audience that might have been imported en masse from upmarket Queen's to the tranquil Berkshire country setting. He even stopped to sign autographs before going on court with Almagro.
Elsewhere in the buildup to Wimbledon, neither Heather Watson nor Laura Robson could build on their opening performances at Eastbourne, going out in straight sets in their second-round matches. Watson lost 7–6, 6–1 to the seventh seed, Lucie Safarova, and Robson was defeated by Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 7-5, who had knocked out the Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the first round.There were also two withdrawals from the Wimbledon singles draw, Gaël Monfils, the World No15, has pulled out with a knee injury while in the ladies draw the Dutch player Michaella Kraijcek has withdrawn due to a viral illness.
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