Federer, Murray not worried over gay players

ROME (AFP) - Roger Federer and Andy Murray insisted on Sunday that any player who came out as gay would not face discrimination on the tour.

US basketball star Jason Collins recently revealed he was gay, becoming the first active professional player in the US to declare his homosexuality. Federer believes any such revelation in men's tennis would not cause problems.

"I don't think it's a problem to be honest. We are relaxed and don't play team sport and mix a lot, not with the girls, but with the guys and we're very open," said the 17-time Grand Slam title winner.

"What would happen in this event? I don't know. I don't know if there is anyone." World number three Murray said that there are probably some gay men on the professional tour. But the Scot said that if a fellow competitor decided to go public, he would find sympathy.

"I would hope there are no issues on the tour," said the US Open and Olympic champion.

"You know, there have to be some players who are probably gay but I don't think other players have any issues with it and hope tennis deals with this well.

"I saw the Jason Collins thing in basketball and the player and the owners were respectful and happy about his decision and so I think it is a good thing."

Meanwhile, Federer, now the world number three behind Novak Djokovic and Murray, goes into the Rome Masters after an early exit from Madrid last week where he was the defending champion.

"I have a little more time here and I'm doing what you have to do to get ready for the match," said the 31-year-old Swiss, who took nearly two months off from mid-march March to heal a back niggle.

Federer will make his start in Rome in the second round against either Radek Stepanek, whom he beat in Madrid, or Italian Potito Starace.

The Swiss does not deny that this season has gotten off to a worse start than 2012, when he won titles in Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells and Madrid prior to the French Open.

Although his failure to reach the final of the first two Grand Slams that year saw him come in for criticism.

This year, he is the only member of the top 10 not to have played in any final.

But critics write him off at their peril.

"I was surprised how early it (2012 criticism) was, straight after the French Open (where he lost a semi-final to Djokovic).

"When you play well no one dares attack you.

"I have six weeks to play and I chose to take seven weeks off but people sometimes don't respect. Now, it's important to focus on Rome and get used to playing on clay."

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