Scottish tennis star Andy Murray has bristled at suggestions of disrespect after sending down an under-arm serve in his win over Australian James Duckworth in the first round of Wimbledon on Monday.
Duckworth was brave in defeat, taking the first set off Murray on the first day of the Wimbledon tennis championships before ultimately losing in four sets.
However, the use of an under-arm serve was questioned by many fans, especially as Aussie tennis firebrand Nick Kyrgios has been slammed for using the same tactic previously.
Murray rejected any notion of disrespect, saying the move was a valid way to catch out an opponent who was positioned too far beyond the baseline.
‘I don’t know why people have ever found it potentially disrespectful or… I don’t know. I’ve never understood that. It’s a legitimate way of serving,’ he said.
‘I would never use an underarm serve if someone was standing on the baseline because I think it’s a stupid idea because they’re going to track it down and it’s easy to get.
‘If they stand four or five metres behind the baseline, then why would you not do that to try to bring them forward if they’re not comfortable returning there? Tactically it’s a smart play.
‘No one says it’s disrespectful for someone to return from six metres, whatever, five metres behind the baseline to try to get an advantage.
‘So I used it not to be disrespectful to him but to say, If you’re going to step further back to return the serve to give yourself more time, then I’m going to exploit that.’
Murray survived an early scare against Aussie Duckworth to claim a first round Wimbledon win
Krygios has never been shy to drop the underarm serve in when his opposition has positioned themselves too far back, memorably deploying the tactic in a heated contest against no.2 seed Daniil Medvedev during the Australian Open in January.
The Russian ultimately won the match, but Kyrgios won the point when he caught his opponent napping.
Kyrgios also used the underarm serve as a psychological weapon in the Australian Open, faking the serve twice to keep British player Liam Broady guessing.
Then, after sitting out the European clay court season, Kyrgios used the tactic again in his first match at the ATP event in Stuttgart against Czech youngster Jiri Lehecka.
On that occasion he used the ‘tweener’, an underarm serve that is delivered through the legs – a trick shot that surprised Lehecka into an unforced error.
Champion tennis player Rafael Nadal has slammed Kyrgios as disrespectful before, after a match at the Mexican Open in 2019 where the Australian used a range of tactics including an underarm serve. It was a match where he also claimed to be sick, swore at the crowd and told hecklers to ‘shut up’.
Kyrgios said at the time that the only reason he used the underarm serve was because his opponent was too far back, not to be disrespectful.
‘I mean isn’t the idea to serve where the person can’t get the ball? Try to get an ace?’ he said on Facebook.