LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray hopes to “win back” a few fans when he opens the ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday against Kei Nishikori.
The 27-year-old former Wimbledon champion received a barrage of abuse on Twitter when he publicly supported the pro-independence “Yes” campaign in the recent Scottish referendum on whether to stay within the United Kingdom.
He later said he regretted giving his opinions in public, saying his “Let’s Do This” tweet had resulted from getting caught up in an emotional day for Scotland.
It was not the first time the proud Scot had attracted criticism -- he once angered soccer fans by saying he would support whoever England were playing in the World Cup -- but he hopes the crowds in London’s O2 will be cheering for him.
“I’ve not had any problem so far,” Murray, who was the darling of the nation when he became Britain’s first male Wimbledon champion for 77 years in 2013, told reporters.
”There’s always been good support when I play here and at Wimbledon and Queen’s Club so I hope that’s the same.
“But if not I will do my job regardless, put in my best effort and hopefully win back some fans this week.”
Murray put in a marathon effort just to qualify for the London showdown, winning three tournaments in an exhausting late-season schedule that took him from a three-stop tour of China, then Vienna, Valencia and Paris.
After missing last year’s ATP World Tour Finals because of back surgery, he was determined not to miss the party again.
In cramming 23 matches in since late September, Murray has played his way back into form and could even climb back into the top four in the ATP rankings with a strong showing in London.
“It was my idea to play so many,” a jovial Murray, who had not won a title, or beaten a top-10 player, all year before Shenzhen in September, said.
“I said to (member of his coaching team) Dani (Vallverdu) after getting back from New York that I wanted to play matches and get back to winning matches. It could be Futures, Challengers, just to have that feeling again.”
Murray, who is yet to win the ATP Tour Finals title, will also be up against six-times champion Roger Federer and Canadian debutant Milos Raonic in London.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Toby Davis