Billy Joel didn't start the fire, but Andy Murray sure did on Tuesday.
Noting that his ATP colleague, Sergiy Stakhovsky—a frequent WTA and equal-pay detractor—was up to his usual ways on Twitter, Murray opted not to hold back and went after the instigator. In truth, the conversation was started by another tweeter, Donnie Sackey, whose bio notes that he is an assistant professor of English at Wayne State University. Sackey tweeted the link to an ESPN story in which Murray and Serena Williams were quoted as differing with Novak Djokovic on the subject of equal pay between men's and women's touring pros.
Among Murray's comments: "The crowds are coming to watch the women as well. The whole thing just doesn't stack up—it changes on a day-to-day basis depending on the matches you get."
Therein, Murray rather obviously took a dig at (or "shaded") Stakhovsky in making a point.
"One of the things Novak said was that if women are selling more seats and tickets they should make more," Murray said, "But at a tournament like [the BNP Paribas Open], for example, if Serena is playing on center court, and you have a men's match with Stakhovsky playing, people are coming to watch Serena."
Sackey tagged the Twitter handles of Murray, Williams and Stakhovsky, which certainly alerted all of them of the deluge to come. Cue a rare protracted exchange between players on the medium, let alone one dripping with sarcasm and spite: