Andy Murray to practise with Novak Djokovic in Rome before return

By Russell FullerBBC tennis correspondent
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray
Djokovic and Murray know each other's game well

Andy Murray will practise with Novak Djokovic in Rome on Sunday and hopes to return to action in 10 days' time.

The former world number one has not played since early March, having withdrawn from the Miami Open with a groin injury.

But a series of scans have not revealed any serious problems, and the 33-year-old sounds increasingly confident he will be fit for the French Open.

The second Grand Slam of the year begins in Paris on 30 May.

Murray will fly to Rome on Saturday so he can practise with those competing at next week's Italian Open.

"I want to get out there to be around the top players and top tournaments," he says.

"On Sunday I've got a court booked with [Diego] Schwartzman and then Novak in the afternoon.

"I want to play against the highest-level players possible because I think that will help me improve my game quicker."

Murray then hopes to receive a wildcard to play a tournament in either Geneva or Lyon from 17 May.

He has entered French Open qualifying the following week as he does not yet know whether he will be offered a wildcard for the main draw.

He says the French Tennis Federation wants to see him competing before making a decision.

Murray has only been able to play three tournaments this year. He contracted Covid-19 just before the Australian Open, and the groin pain has taken a frustratingly long time to go away.

"It's difficult for me to look too far into the future," he says.

"I need to try and find a way of staying on the match court for longer. It has been extremely frustrating.

"When I had the operation on the hip I knew it was going to be unbelievably challenging. It just feels there are a couple of things that have happened this year which have been very unfortunate, that have been hard to take.

"But I didn't expect it to be easy. I'm trying to do something that has not been done before."

As Murray and his metal hip stepped up practice at the National Tennis Centre in London, there was a familiar figure with him on court.

Mark Petchey, who was Murray's coach when he first broke into the top 50 in 2006, is currently helping Jamie Delgado with some of the coaching duties.

"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," Murray says.

"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.

"Having someone extra with all the quarantine situations that can come up makes sense. I know him really well, so we are looking at doing something longer term, but nothing has been agreed at this point."

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