Andy Murray expressed disappointment about crowds at the China Open tennis, where some of the best players in the world have competed in front of swathes of empty seats.
Poor attendances have been in the sporting headlines because of sparse turn-out at the World Athletics Championships in Doha.
And at the ongoing China Open in Beijing, the biggest matches have played out to rows of unoccupied seats at the cavernous Diamond Court, the main arena.
“I think as the tournament goes on you tend to get better crowds towards the end of the week,” Murray said after his last-16 match on Wednesday.
“Last couple of days in terms of atmosphere it’s been not as good as you would like,” added the former number one, 32, who is on the comeback trail from career-saving hip surgery.
The three-time Grand Slam champion praised the tournament as a whole, but said: “I don’t know if I’m complaining about it, but I’d like it to see bigger crowds and nicer atmospheres. That normally comes as the week goes on.”
The China Open did not immediately comment on Murray’s remarks when approached by AFP.
At last week’s inaugural Zhuhai Championships in southern China, a senior ATP official said that the country would not be given more and bigger tournaments until it produced “top” players.