Australia's Marinko Matosevic. Photo: AFP
LONDON Marinko Matosevic says he's surprised by the backlash to his comments about women's tennis, which have been branded "a bit pig-headed" by compatriot Samantha Stosur.
The Australian world No.60 caused a stir when he said on Tuesday he didn't "think that highly of the women's game" when asked if he would ever follow Andy Murray's lead in hiring a female coach.
Matosevic on Wednesday claimed his comments were innocent and not intended to be sexist - or critical of Murray and his coach Amelie Mauresmo.
However he appeared not to back down on his view that the women's tour was inferior to the men's.
"I think you should ask the general public," Matosevic said after defeating Slovakian Lukas Lacko to reach the third round at Queen's Club.
"You guys always ask us players. I think TV (ratings), crowds at the tournaments ... that's your answer. That's the difference between men's and women's tennis."
Matosevic was asked after a first-round win over Marin Cilic his opinion of Mauresmo's appointment and whether he could ever have a female coach.
"For me, I couldn't do it since I don't think that highly of the women's game," he said on Tuesday.
"... It's all equal rights these days. Got to be politically correct.
"So, yeah, someone's got to give it a go. It won't be me."
The comments sparked furore on social media and Australia's top-ranked player Stosur was asked about the remarks after making a winning start to her grass court campaign in Birmingham.
"I think that's a bit pig-headed," Stosur said after a 6-1 6-3 win over American Christina McHale on Wednesday.
"But I think comments like that, you've got to take with a grain of salt and think, 'OK, that's his opinion.
"Do you care about it? Not really."
Told of Stosur's response, Matosevic said on Wednesday: "I like Sam. She's a lovely girl, we have the same manager and that's a shame."
The world No.60 said he was surprised to wake up to several text messages alerting him to the controversy he had caused.
"I was surprised that it did (cause a stir) because I thought my comments were pretty innocent," Matosevic said.
"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. It's a shame it did."
Matosevic also hit-out at some reports that his comments were critical of Murray.
"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 yesterday."
Matosevic's 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 defeat of Lacko set up a third-round encounter against French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Stosur, meanwhile, will face compatriot Casey Dellacqua in the third round in Birmingham.
Dellacqua beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-4 6-3 in round two.