For an unheralded player, getting a wildcard into a big tournament can sometimes be a life-altering experience.
When a 16-year-old Lleyton Hewitt, ranked 550 at the time, was invited to play Adelaide in 1998, the Australian went on to win the title – the first of his career. The rest is history as they say.
While a wildcard did not have the same effect on James McGee, who became the first Irishman to compete at the Dubai Championships when he accepted an unexpected invitation to play the ATP 500 tournament, the world No. 210 still had an incredible experience here.
Playing in the main draw of an ATP tournament for the first time in his career (his only other tour-level main draw match was at the 2014 US Open), McGee lost easily to Joao Sousa in round one yesterday.
— Dubai Tennis Champs (@DDFTennis) February 23, 2015
And while the result is forgettable, his practices with Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych leading up to it here in Dubai were certainly not.
“Brilliant to be playing at this level and to meet these guys. You realise they are normal lads. Sometimes you watch them on TV and they seem… they don’t look human but they are,” said McGee of Murray and Berdych.
Turning down the Burj
Murray is certainly a normal lad. The world No. 3 was offered to stay at the seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel like his fellow top-three seeds Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, but Murray opted to lodge at the on-side Jumeirah Creekside Hotel instead.
While other players may go for luxury over convenience, Murray apparently is not one of them.
“It (the Jumeirah Creekside) is convenient, very close to the courts. It’s a very nice hotel here and you don’t waste any time. Sometimes getting to the Burj can take 30-40 minutes. Here you can literally walk out of the hotel to the courts, practice, go to the gym… everything is very easy. So it saves time,” said Murray.
“I stayed in the Burj a couple of times but I’m fine here,” he added with a laugh.
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