Australia’s Marinko Matosevic ended Marin Cilic’s attempt to reach a third consecutive Queen’s Club final on Tuesday and then aimed a verbal volley at Andy Murray’s decision to hire Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach.
Cilic won the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in 2012 when his opponent David Nalbandian was disqualified and the Croatian made it back to the final last year before losing to Murray.
But the ninth seed’s hopes of becoming the first player to reach three successive Queen’s finals since Andy Roddick from 2003 to 2005, were shattered by Bosnia-born Matosevic in a 6-4, 6-4 first round defeat in west London.
Matosevic, 28, was still in combative mood during his post-match press conference as he became the first male player to disagree with Murray’s shock coaching appointment.
“For me, I couldn’t do it since I don’t think that highly of the women’s game,” said Matosevic, who is coached by compatriot Mark Woodforde.
“His mum coached him and she did a great job with him, so we’ll see what happens.
“It’s all equal rights these days. Got to be politically correct. So, yeah, someone’s got to give it a go. Won’t be me.”
Although he wasn’t in action on Tuesday, there was still plenty of attention on reigning Queen’s and Wimbledon champion Murray, who starts his spell working with Mauresmo in Wednesday’s second round match against France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu.
– Low profile –
Murray rocked the tennis world when he announced on Sunday that Mauresmo was his choice to replace Ivan Lendl, who quit in March, as his coach for at least the grasscourt season.
Mauresmo, a former world number one and Wimbledon champion, arrived at Queen’s to link up with Murray on Tuesday, but kept a low profile, telling reporters “I’ll see you tomorrow” when approached after watching compatriot Julien Benneteau lose to Victor Estrella Burgos.
Murray, who had lunch with Mauresmo in the players’ lounge, may have noted the first round provided mixed results for the two other leading men coached by women.
Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin, coached by his wife Anastasia, was beaten 6-4, 6-1 by Czech 15th seed Radek Stepanek, while Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, coached by his mother Klaudiya, defeated compatriot Farrukh Dustov 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.
With his wife back home in Volgograd after failing to secure a British visa, Kukushkin crashed out, but he tipped more men to employ female coaches in future.
“I see a lot of players and coaches, and I see some coaches on tour who do almost nothing on tour,” Kukushkin said.
“It’s not so important if it’s a man or a woman, what’s important for me is really working hard to build together.
“Very few players have a female coach but for me there’s no difference between a man and a woman. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more women coaching men in the future.”
The outspoken Matosevic has been in good form of late, reaching the final of the grasscourt event in Nottingham last week following his first-ever match win at a Grand Slam when the world number 60 defeated Dustin Brown in the French Open first round.
And he finished off world number 26 Cilic in impressive fashion to clinch a second round match against Lukas Lacko.
“Before, when someone would mention something to do with a Grand Slam, it would make me feel uncomfortable. Now I just feel free to play tennis,” he said.
“Like I said in Paris, it’s a huge gorilla lifted off my shoulders now. I have no more worries.”
Czech second seed Tomas Berdych was pushed hard by Australian qualifier James Duckworth before the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up edged through to the third round with a 7-6 (7/3), 5-7, 6-4 victory.
Bulgarian fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov was watched by girlfriend and newly-crowned French Open champion Maria Sharapova, as he advanced to the third round with a 7-5, 6-3 win over British wild card entry James Ward.