Great Britain

Andy Murray to practice with Novak Djokovic in latest injury comeback with French Open in sight

Andy Murray is ready to go again in another bid to regain his place at the top of the sport and finally put his injury woes behind him.

The Scot will use the help of Novak Djokovic, with the world No 1 set to hit with the three-time grand slam winner eyeing a place at the French Open.

A newfound groin problem was discovered during his sleep ahead of the Miami Open in March, with the 33-year-old unable to play since.

Scans were inconclusive but Murray has been able to train in London for most of the last few weeks and will travel to Rome on Saturday for a week of practice with the top names in the sport.

He is then hoping to receive a wild card for either of the ATP tournaments in Geneva or Lyon the following week before playing the French Open, while Murray has booked a practice session in Rome alongside Djokovic and Diego Schwartzman to spark his latest comeback.

Murray said of his injury: “When I got back from Miami I went through a process of scans. They didn’t show anything serious but I was still having pain.

“I had to do quite a lot of work in the gym to address some imbalances and lack of range of motion. I’ve been working on that for a few weeks but the positive thing was that I was able to practice pretty much since I got back.

“The last five or six days there has been a definite improvement. I’ve played points the last four days and there hasn’t been residual pain when waking up.”

Murray has been very short of match play over the past 18 months because of a series of niggling injury problems and an ill-timed bout of coronavirus on top of the break in the tour last year.

He has won only one tour-level match since last September but hopes that being among the leading players next week at the Italian Open, even though he will not be in the tournament, will prove beneficial.

“On Sunday I’ve got a court booked with Schwartzman and then Novak in the afternoon, and then (I’m) trying to sort some more after that,” he said.

“I want to play against the highest level players possible because I think that will help me improve my game quicker. When you are practicing against the best guys it shows up better the things that you need to improve on.”

His schedule after that is conditional on whether he receives a wild card for the French Open. If he does, he could seek a wild card into the ATP tournament in Parma. If not, he will have to go through qualifying at a grand slam for the first time in his career.

Murray received a wild card at Roland Garros in 2020 but suffered a one-sided loss to Stan Wawrinka in the first round.

He said: “I don’t mind if they don’t want to give me a wild card, that’s fine, they can give them to whoever they want to.

“It just makes it a bit tricky with planning, but we should find out in the next week or so.”

Murray was practising at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton on Friday with young British talent Jack Draper in front of new team member Mark Petchey, who will work alongside the Scot’s long-time coach Jamie Delgado.

Murray worked with former British number one Petchey when he was a teenager, and said: “I spoke to Petch a few weeks ago having chatted to him in December pre-Australian Open.

“Over the last few years my team and I have spent a lot of time together and there have been a lot of difficult moments because of what’s happened with the injuries and uncertainty. I felt it would be good to have a fresh voice some weeks.

“Obviously I did a lot of work with Petch when I was younger, I thought he was a very good coach, and because of his TV work he is very current with his knowledge.

“We are looking at doing something longer term but nothing has been agreed at this point.”

Murray‘s main target on the court will be to try to be in good form for the grass-court season, where he will hope his experience can make him competitive with the leading names.

But the top priority will be staying fit for weeks or months at a time, which has proved a major challenge since his hip resurfacing operation more than two years ago.

“I need to try and find a way of staying on the match court for longer and being on the court more,” said the former world number one, who turns 34 next week.

“It has been extremely frustrating. I never expected that things were going to be easy. When I had the operation on the hip, I knew it was going to be unbelievably challenging.

“I’m trying to do something that has not been done before. So I knew there would be challenges, but things have come up which have made it even more difficult.

“I want to get out there, be around the top players and top tournaments.

“I’m really looking forward to going away tomorrow and being among those guys and having a good few months this summer, with Wimbledon and the Olympics. I feel good right now.”

PA

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