Grand Slam winner Andy Murray believes that if the Philippines can produce world boxing champions like Manny Pacquiao, it can also come up with world-ranked tennis players.
It just needs commitment and hard work, Murray, who is playing for the Manila Mavericks team in the International Premium Tennis League which opened on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, told The Manila Times in an exclusive interview on Thursday night.
With Murray in the Manila Mavericks are Russia’s Maria Sharapova, Spain’s Carlos Moya, France’s Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, 2003 Wimbledon girls’ singles champion Kirsten Flipkens, Daniel Nestor and Filipino-American Treat Huey.
Murray had the chance to meet Pacquiao during the welcome dinner for the Mavericks at Shangrila on Thursday.
“I have no any idea what Philippines is all about because this is my first time to be here. I only know Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao,” the 27-year-old Scot said.
“If your country can produce world class boxing champions, there is no doubt your people can also excel in professional tennis. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication in training to be in the top spot. I believe you [Filipinos] can,” he said.
Murray said he did not watch Pacquiao’s latest bout in Macau, China, where the Filipino boxing icon knocked down American Chris Algieri six times to win by unanimous decision. “I did not watch it live but I saw all the highlights which he fought pretty well and convincingly won that bout.”
He said Filipinos could excel in tennis not only in the Asian and Southeast Asian regions but in the world stage as well.
“Your players need to keep their commitment in training to achieve excellence and be known in tennis,” said Murray, who won the US Open in 2012 by defeating Novak Djokovic, 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2.
Murray’s duel with Djokovic was one of the longest finals battles in tennis history, lasting 4 hours and 16 minutes.
The victory came several weeks after he won the 2012 London Olympics gold medalist in men’s singles.
Murray urged tennis clubs in the country to keep on teaching the sport to young enthusiasts. “I think in every club there are potential young players who can be a grand slammer. They should work for it,” he said.
“Just like them I’m very excited to play here,” said Murray. “There is no such tennis event in this country, so I think this [tournament]is a great opportunity for every Filipino. I came up maybe 45 minutes ago and experienced the traffic.”
Murray said he plans to stay in competitive form for a crack at another Grand Slam title.
“I’m looking for more titles and try to win Grand Slams and that’s my goal. I’m also preparing for next year’s Australian Open after this tournament,” he added. I only have two days to spend Christmas in Scotland before I return to training.”