Andy Murray has never been afraid to think outside the box so as he plots his return to the Tour in the coming weeks, perhaps it should be no surprise to see an additional, if familiar, face in his camp.

Just over two months after his last ATP Tour appearance in Rotterdam, Murray will fly to Rome today, reacquainting himself with life on the tour after another injury setback which forced him to miss Miami and the start of the clay-court season.

Though he will not be playing in the Rome Masters, which begins tomorrow, the Scot will gauge his level in practice with world No.1 Novak Djokovic and No.9 Diego Schwartzman before returning to the Tour for good later this month.

Alongside him, together with his current team, led by Jamie Delgado, will be the man who was his coach when he won his first title in San Jose 16 years ago, Mark Petchey.

“I spoke to Petch a few weeks ago having chatted to him in December pre Australian Open,” former world No.1 Murray said yesterday.

“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 fresh voice some weeks.


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“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,” Murray said.

“A lot of the younger guys he knows them because he’s commentating on them and I don’t know them so well.

“He also knows my game very well (and) having someone extra with all the quarantine situations that can come up and travelling is tricky right now. It makes sense with everything that is going on, I know him really well…we are looking at doing something longer term but nothing has been agreed at this point.”

It has been a tough four months for Murray, who began 2021 in good spirits having trained well in December, only to contract Covid-19, which forced him to miss the Australian Open.

Though he recovered quickly and reached the final of the ATP Challenger Tour event in Bielsa, Italy, in February, he lost early in Montpellier and Rotterdam before a left groin problem forced him to miss Miami.

Murray, who turns 34 on May 17, said he had been able to work in the gym while trying to fix the problem and said his recent work on court had been encouraging.

“The last five or six days there has been a definite improvement,” he said.


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“I’ve played points the last four days and there hasn’t been residual pain when waking up. It wasn’t like I’ve had lost weeks because I’ve been able to train pretty much throughout.”

Ranked No.123, Murray is still waiting to hear if he will receive a wildcard for the main draw at Roland-Garros. He’s likely to play in Geneva or Lyon in the week of May 17 and could yet play in Parma the week after, if he does not have to qualify for Paris.

Before then, though, he will test himself out against Djokovic in practice at the Foro Italico.

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

Murray will play Queen’s and Wimbledon and beyond that he hopes to play at the Olympics, which would offer him the chance to win a third straight gold medal after his 2012 and 2016 victories.

But having had a number of niggling injuries in the two years since the hip surgery which threatened to end his career, he knows he can’t take anything for granted.

“I’m trying to do something that has not been done before,” he said. “I want to get out there, be around the top players and top tournaments. I’m really looking forward to going away (today) and being among those guys and having a good few months this summer, with Wimbledon and the Olympics. I feel good right now.”