Andy Murray has welcomed the ATP’s investigation into domestic violence allegations made against Alexander Zverev.
The governing body announced on Tuesday that it was looking into the claims by Zverev’s former girlfriend Olga Sharypova that the world number four punched her in their hotel room during the Shanghai Masters in 2019.
The Russian former junior player first went public with a series of allegations against Zverev last October, to which the 24-year-old issued a blanket denial.
He continues to maintain his innocence but pressure had been growing for the ATP to take some form of action, with Murray one of the few male players calling publicly for something to be done.
The ATP’s announcement also revealed that an independent safeguarding report commissioned to recommend steps forward in the way the organisation handles such issues has been completed.
Speaking ahead of his first match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Murray said: “I think now you have to try to look at the positives of what’s come from that and, yes it’s taken a little bit too long, but now there is going to be a process in place and protocols in place when allegations like that are made.”
Zverev hopes the investigation will allow him to prove his innocence, saying: “Bloody finally, to be honest. I’ve been asking them myself for months now. Because it’s very hard for me to clear my name and only with something like this I can completely.
“It’s very difficult in my situation because a lot of times the man is not really believed. I have proven that I’m innocent in a lot of different ways and I think now, with this investigation, I hope this can be done and dusted and we can move on with everything else.
“I’ve had one of the most incredible seasons a young guy has had in the last probably 10 years. And that is kind of forgotten a little bit.”
Indian Wells represents the latest in a busy period of tournaments for Murray, whose body is finally allowing him to compete week-to-week on the tour.
— LTA (@the_LTA) October 6, 2021
What he has not been able to do yet, though, is string wins together, with a quarter-final appearance in Metz last month the only time other than Wimbledon where he has been able to win two matches in a row.
The 34-year-old is still ranked down at 121 in the world, and he said: “The matches that I’ve lost, barring Winston-Salem, are (to players) in the top 15 in the world – (Stefanos) Tsitsipas, (Hubert) Hurkacz, Casper Ruud.
“They’re top players and have been this season certainly. I have also had a number of opportunities in those matches and not quite taken them.
“Partly that’s down to playing against top players, they’re going to snuff out some opportunities you create, but also there’s been some stuff in those matches that I certainly feel I could have done better.
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) October 5, 2021
“The positive I guess is that I’ve not been losing to guys I should definitely have been winning against at this stage.”
In the first round in Indian Wells, Murray will take on tricky Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, with a possible meeting against Zverev looming in the third round.
It is the Scot’s first appearance in the Californian desert since 2017 but, even in his heyday, it was not a venue he particularly enjoyed playing at, with Murray citing a combination of the dry air and light balls.
He is optimistic for this year, though, saying: “I did have some good wins and stuff here, it’s not like I played badly every year, but overall I’ve been pretty inconsistent here and struggled with that but the balls are getting much heavier, which I really like. I’m finding it a lot easier to control the ball in comparison to other years.”
Murray is once again playing after receiving a wild card, as has been the case for virtually all of the main tour events he has contested since returning from hip surgery.
Mats Wilander was heavily criticised at the French Open last autumn for saying he did not think Murray should keep taking wild cards, but the former world number one has no qualms about it.
He said: “Obviously I’d rather get in by right. But I could also argue that the three years I was out injured, I would have rightfully been entered into all of these tournaments.
“I think, after what I’ve gone through the last three or four years and what I’d achieved in the game beforehand, I don’t feel like I need to justify the reasons for why I should get wild cards.
“The tournaments are obviously making those decisions, I don’t make the call. I’m very grateful they’ve given me the opportunity to play here again and to play in the other tournaments this year but do I feel bad about it? No, I don’t feel bad about it.”