Andy Murray's wildcard decision pushed back

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 04/01/2014
Andy Murray
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WILDCARD: Andy Murray has the opportunity to play in Auckland.

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An announcement on whether Andy Murray will play at the ATP tennis tournament in Auckland has been put back to later today.

If Murray does not take up the offer of a wildcard, it will be given to New Zealand's Rubin Statham.

Tournament director Karl Budge has got until 10am today to make a decision. He waited last night to hear from Murray's agent once they had landed in Melbourne from Doha but the flight was delayed by the time the draw for qualifying was made. But as the field for qualifying is weak, Statham has been given a bye in the first round, so he can be pulled out of this draw and bumped up to the main draw if Murray does not come.

If Murray does come, it will mean there is the greatest ever field coming to the tournament, with world No 3 David Ferrer already locked in.

Statham's ranking is up to 290 and 2013 was a career best year for him.

However, he admits he faces the same issues as Marina Erakovic does in that all the pressure goes on him at one tournament at the beginning of the year.

All of the Futures tournaments have been dropped by Tennis NZ, so there is nothing else he can play in in this country other than this tournament.

"It is quite a strange situation, we have such a huge event for New Zealand," Statham said.

"It is the biggest international sporting event in New Zealand and then nothing for the rest of the year.

"Tennis is a well played sport here, so the passion is there and that's why these two events go off for the two weeks, but then it goes dry for the rest of the year.

"A player from America might play a tournament there and if he loses, there are another 15-20 tournaments in his country," he added.

"But if I don't perform here, that's it for the year, so it's one shot.

"I didn't play a professional singles match in New Zealand last year and I'm the No 1 player in the country – that's a pretty scary stat."

But one player from America who will be here next week is 21-year-old Jack Sock, who was given a main draw wildcard a few weeks ago.

Sock is the latest next big hope from America, following on from Donald Young and Ryan Harrison, who both failed to live up to their hype.

The average age of a top 100 player is 27, so there is time for Sock, the world No 102, to break through but he says he is hungry to get there now.

"I want to get up there as soon as possible and stay there," he said.

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"There is definitely a trend now of a lot of older guys doing well and the average age at the top now is older.

"But I think I can move my way up and be up there sooner than later."

One claim to fame he has though is that he has already won a grand slam, albeit the mixed doubles at the US Open with Melanie Oudin in 2011.

"It was a surreal moment for me in my career," he said.

"I was 18 when it happened and both Melanie and I would say it was pretty unexpected.

"But there was an unreal feeling playing on Arthur Ashe Stadium at night at the end of the tournament, it's definitely pretty cool."

- Fairfax Media

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