Marinko Matosevic may not be too keen on his ‘Mad Dog’ nickname but Andy Murray believes it suits his next opponent perfectly.
The name appeared on Matosevic’s Wikipedia page in 2012 and he became so incensed by fans calling him ‘Mad Dog’ at the Australian Open this year that he asked for the umpire to tell them to stop.
In an expletive-laden press conference after losing to Kei Nishikori, Matosevic called the nickname “stupid” and criticised his coach, former doubles great Mark Woodforde, for not offering enough vocal support.
Matosevic said: “I really don’t care any more. It started off I thought it was a joke in Sydney. And then the way I reacted to it obviously fed you guys and fed the crowd or whatever and then it got worse. I can’t change it now.”
Matosevic has a cult following in Australia, largely because of his tendency for on-court histrionics, and asked if ‘Mad Dog’ was a good description, Murray said: “From the time I have spent with him, I’d say that’s a good name for him.
“He’s an interesting character, that’s for sure. He’s a good guy and good fun around the locker room. He always makes everyone smile, makes everyone laugh. That’s nice.”
It was perhaps not surprising Matosevic reacted badly after going down in five sets to Nishikori in Melbourne given it was his 12th attempt to try to win a main draw match at a grand slam.
He finally made it lucky 13 at Roland Garros on Tuesday, coming from 5-1 down in the fourth set to defeat Dustin Brown, and celebrated exuberantly by rolling around in the clay.
Bosnia-born Matosevic and Murray have played once before, in the third round at Queen’s, which the Scot won 6-2 6-2 before going on to clinch the title.
Murray said: “He’s a good ball striker. He’s had some good wins on the tour. He’s maybe been a bit up and down but he can play good tennis. He’s a strong guy. It will be tough.”
Matosevic revealed the pair became friends through Murray’s former coach, Ivan Lendl.
He said: “I like Ivan Lendl’s sense of humour, so started speaking to him when he start working with Ivan. We’ve shared some fun times in the locker room since then.”
Also in second-round action on Thursday will be Heather Watson, who faces a tough task against fourth seed Simona Halep.