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Some Spanish players are protesting the wild cards given by the Mutua Madrid Open, saying that more should have been given to players from Spain as in previous years.

The tournament on Wednesday announced that it was giving men's main-draw wild cards to Andy Murray (GBR), Carlos Gimeno (ESP), Lucas Pouille (FRA) and Jack Draper (GBR), and women's wild cards to Naomi Osaka (JPN), Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE), Monica Puig (PUR), Marta Kostyuk (UKR) and Qinwen Zheng (CHN).

The change is striking. The combined ATP and WTA 1000-level event was owned by a company held by former Romanian player Ion Tiriac, but recently sold to IMG. It had usually given most of its wild cards to Spanish players since its start in 2009, though Romanian players were also regularly included. One ATP wildcard was in some years also awarded through a fan poll conducted by Spanish newspaper Marca.

Spain's Fernando Verdasco, a former Top 10 player currently No. 121, and countrymen No. 94 Carlos Taberner and No. 79 Pablo Andujar, who has reached a high of No. 32, issued a statement that criticized the amount of wild cards given to players from other countries.


"Following today's announcement by the Mutua Madrid Open of the wild cards they are going to award for this year's event, many Spanish players cannot help but give our opinion," it said.

The statement added that the players were ''surprised and very frustrated" that "the biggest tennis event in Spain shows so little (or no) support" for Spanish players, and that for practically all the main draw wild cards "commercial interests'' took precedence rather than Spanish sports and "completed deviated from the trajectory of previous years."


IMG also owns the Miami Open and other tour events, and usually gives most of its wild cards to its own players. Other than Murray and Gimeno, a 20-year-old who was a top junior, all the Madrid wild cards were given to IMG players.

The statement also claimed many Spanish players were "ignored in their requests" for wild cards into the event.

"Looking at any other tournament in the same category, local players get significantly higher support," it said, pointing to the Rome Masters, where the announced ATP wild cards have all been Italian players.

Spanish WTA player Paula Badosa, ranked No. 3, also responded to the statement on social media, saying it was "very sad" for Spanish tennis "at a time when there is a lot of potential."

"I entered the tournament with a wild card a year ago, and it was one of the best of my career," she said.


The critiquing Spanish players asked for sponsors and spectators to react to the tournament's decision, saying, "We fully trust that the main sponsors of the tournament, the Madrid City Council, Mutua Madrilena and Spanish companies—along with the Spanish sports federations, and spectators who are largely nationals—want to be supporting Spanish players and are investing in this tournament to help our sport and want the greatest Spanish presence possible, so we imagine their disappointment and hope they show it."

They added, "We felt it was important to communicate that we are sad we cannot play in our country and share the circumstances that have led to us not having the opportunity."

Murray, who has often received a wild card into tournaments since returning from hip surgery, reacted to the wave of social media criticism by asking why he should turn down wild cards if offered them. The three-time Grand Slam champion also said he would play qualifying in Rome.


Tournament officials have not yet issued any comment.