LONDON (AFP) - Australia's Marinko Matosevic has insisted his criticism of women's tennis doesn't mean he is sexist.
Matosevic, who beat Lukas Lacko to move into the third round at Queen's Club on Wednesday, sparked controversy on Tuesday when he became the first male player to publicly disapprove of Wimbledon champion Andy Murray's surprise decision to hire Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach.
The 28 year-old admitted he did "not think that highly of the women's game" and said he could never hire a female coach. His compatriot Sam Stosur, in action on the women's tour in Birmingham this week, labelled Matosevic's comments "pig-headed", while he was also subjected to abuse on social media.
Yet the world number 60 refused to alter his stance on Wednesday and claimed he was surprised by the fuss his comments had caused. "I was surprised because I thought my comments were pretty innocent," said Matosevic, after his 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 victory over Lacko.
"I like Sam (Stosur), she's a lovely girl, we have the same manager, and that's a shame. Women are a big inspiration to me, I didn't mean it to be sexist at all. I didn't mean for that at all to come across like that, but it's a shame it did."
"I've seen Andy today, but I didn't say anything against him, his mum did a great job with him, I was just talking about what I thought of women's tennis. He's a great guy, his mum did a great job with him and I'm sure Amelie will do a great job with him."
When asked if he stood by his original comments, Matosevic again made it clear he isn't a fan of the women's game.
"I think you should ask the general public," he said. "You guys ask us players, but I think TV, crowds at their tournaments, stuff like this, that's your answer. That's the difference between men's and women's tennis."
"Ask the people. Go by TV audience, go by attendance. See what people want to go watch, then that's your answer."