Andy Murray offered a wildcard for Auckland

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:01 03/01/2014
Andy Murray
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WILDCARD: Andy Murray lost in the second round of the Qatar Open, but would be a long-shot to accept the wildcard entry offered by the Auckland ATP tournament.

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Auckland ATP tournament director Karl Budge will find out today if his audacious bid to lure Andy Murray to New Zealand has been successful.

The world No 4 lost in the second round in Doha yesterday, his only tournament leading into the Australian Open, going down to Germany's Florian Mayer 3-6 6-4 6-2.

It was his first tournament since having a back operation a few months ago and Budge is hoping that last year's Wimbledon champion may like to come to the ATP tournament, which starts next week.

"We have reached out to his agent to see if he is looking for some more match time," Budge said. "Hopefully, we hear back over the next 24 hours to see how that's tracking."

Budge has one main draw wildcard up his sleeve, with the other two having already been given to Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis and American Jack Sock.

While Budge is hopeful that Murray takes up the invitation to come to Auckland, he accepts that the chances are slim.

"I've had no conversation with him since the Australian Open last year and it's on the far side of unrealistic," Budge said.

"But hey, he's been out almost since Wimbledon last year, he's hardly hit any tennis balls and has only had one match in his return, so you never know.

"I would suggest he'd want to feel the ball on his racket again before he goes into a grand slam.

"Whether that's with us or at Kooyong, which possibly plays into his strength a bit more, I don't know. I guess we'll see."

Murray actually had two matches in Doha, although his 6-0 6-0 win over wildcard Mousa Shanan Zayed, an unranked player from Qatar, can barely be deemed a contest.

If Murray is interested in coming he might ask for an appearance fee and Budge doesn't expect this to be an obstacle.

"I am a big believer that there is always cash in the pocket for a good idea."

Murray came to New Zealand in 2006 and lost in the second round to Mario Ancic.

He found himself in hot water after his first round match for saying that he and Kenneth Carlson "played like women" in the first set.

If Murray does take up the offer it means New Zealand's Rubin Statham will miss out and have to play in the qualifying tournament.

Budge has until 7.30pm today to make a decision.

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- Fairfax Media

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