INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Andy Murray had to contend with the loudest grunting he has ever heard from an opponent during his 7-6 6-4 win over Carlos Berlocq of Argentina in the BNP Paribas Open fourth round on Wednesday.
The two players first exchanged words across the net during the ninth game of the opening set, which U.S. Open champion Murray eventually won 7-4 on the tiebreak.
Criticized by Berlocq for taking too long in between a few points, the third-seeded Scotsman responded by complaining to the chair umpire about the high decibel level at the other end of the court.
“He (Berlocq) complained I was taking too long between the points, and there were maybe one or two points where that could have been an issue,” Murray, 25, told reporters after sealing victory in just under two hours on Stadium Court Two.
“But when someone is grunting like that it’s every single shot. And also, when you’re doing it that loud, but you aren’t doing that on every single shot, there is obviously a reason for why you’re grunting like that.
“If I’m going to be supposedly taking too long between points on one or two points, then grunting that loud for that long is like an extended grunt as well. It’s making a noise when you’re hitting the ball. It’s annoying.”
Told that Berlocq had earlier said he had no idea his grunting would bother an opponent, Murray prompted laughter by replying: “But that’s what all of the real grunters say.
“You know, it’s like sometimes silence and then it comes out of nowhere. It’s a bit of a shock. So that’s what I don’t understand with it. To go from nothing to the loudest grunt you can do, it makes no sense.”
Murray, who broke Berlocq twice in the second set to book his place in the last eight at Indian Wells, said he had never previously spoken to a chair umpire about on-court grunting.
“When I have been on the court or off it, it’s never been something I have found to be really that off-putting,” the world number three said.
“But if it’s going to be suggested that I am using gamesmanship by taking too long, then you can’t be making noises like that on the court. I haven’t experienced it like that before.
“It was extremely, extremely loud, more than what I have experienced from any other player on the tour,” added the Murray, who clinched his first grand slam crown at last year’s U.S. Open after winning the Olympic gold at the London Games.
Murray, a losing finalist here in 2009, will meet seventh-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in the quarter-finals on Friday.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty